Google pushes Chrome for businesses with Windows management tools

Google is continuing its push for business customers by adding policy features to the Chrome browser, giving IT shops the means to manage Chrome in Windows, Mac and Linux environments.

Chrome is playing catch-up to Microsoft's Internet Explorer in the business world, forcing Google to add features that would be useful to IT pros.

Also read: Chrome OS: 10 things you can (and can't) do with the Google PC

"Businesses don't need to wait any longer to deploy Google Chrome," the company said in its enterprise blog Wednesday. "Today, we're announcing that Chrome offers controls that enable IT administrators to easily configure and deploy the browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux according to their business requirements.

"We've created an MSI installer that enables businesses who use standard deployment tools to install Chrome for all their managed users. We've also added support for managed group policy with a list of policies and a set of templates that allow administrators to easily customize browser settings to manage security and privacy."

Beyond that, Google is also adding group policy support to Chrome Frame, an Internet Explorer plug-in designed to bring some of the features of Chrome to IE users.

While Google is most prominent in the consumer market, today's announcement is one of numerous steps the company is taking to make its technology accepted by corporate IT departments. The forthcoming Chrome OS line of netbooks will integrate with Citrix to deliver enterprise applications, for example. Google also pitches disaster recovery services for Microsoft Exchange, Google Apps for business use, and has added security features to Android to make the smartphone platform comply with corporate policies.

Google said it will provide support for the new Chrome administration features to Google Apps business customers, while others can gain access to deployment and management features at a Google Apps Administrator Help page. Not all the features were available at the time of Google's announcement, however. Specifically, a Mac quick start tool was not available Wednesday afternoon, but deployment toolkits for Windows and Linux are ready to use.

Google said IT administrators who are considering Chrome OS should test drive "mission-critical web applications" by deploying Chrome and the new deployment and configuration tools in their existing environments. Whether Chrome OS becomes a viable operating system for businesses remains to be seen, however, and Chrome is playing catch-up to Microsoft's Internet Explorer when it comes to providing management tools.

For example, Microsoft already pitches an Internet Explorer 8 readiness tool for Windows. The Microsoft services let IT test business applications and internal sites with an application compatibility toolkit, and include more than 100 group policy settings.

Mozilla's Firefox also supports IT management features and controls making it more enterprise-friendly and secure, which are detailed on the Mozilla Wiki.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jbrodkin

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Jon Brodkin

Network World
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