Google brings Chrome rendering engine to IE6, 7 and 8

A thorn in the side of many web developers is Internet Explorer 6. It's an old browser that has many annoyances that cause those creating websites to have to add additional code just to have things render as they should. Google, being a company that develops a web browser, has taken it upon themselves to solve this problem somewhat. It has just released an early version of a project called Google Chrome Frame, which, when used, will cause Internet Explorers 6 through 8 to use Chrome's rendering engine, not their default one. This allows stubborn users (or those in a workplace environment) to continue using the browser they want to, and no longer aggravate web developers.

Google's official blog explains it in detail, and demonstrates how simple it is to get it up and running. All web developers need to do is add the following tag to their sites:

<meta-http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">
Once that's done, and everything is installed correctly, Google Chrome Frame detects the tag and promptly switches automatically to Google Chrome's WebKit-based rendering engine.

If you're a web developer and/or Internet Explorer user, head over to the Chrome Frame page and give it a whirl. Google has released a video about the feature, as they usually do, which we have included below in HD.

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This just wont be used by the masses.
IE6 users are split up into 2 groups, those who cannot upgrade (due to work restrictions) and those who simply do not care about upgrading.

Either way, it wont get installed.

If Chrome support Activex then fine, otherwise it is a bit useless form most specific ie6 websites.

And the second problem is not the render but javascript, for example the infamous ajax script: ActiveXObject('Microsoft.XMLHTTP');

The idea is you run IE6 for sites that need IE6, not Chrome Frame. Chrome Frame would be used to deploy your new site and get users testing it while still being able to use the site that requires IE6.

Eventually meaning you can migrate from IE6, to IE8 or Chrome or whatever.

I'm not sure of the implications for MS. I guess they wont like Google fixing the problems for them that people have been moaning about for ages. Namely running the IE6 renderer and IE7/8 one simultaneously (in an easy fashion); and its a handy migration route to Chrome. Interesting... =)

Mike Chipshop said,
I think this is a great idea but i can't see departments a;;owing the install of a plugin


I guess a lot of IT departments keep the continuing function of business systems that may be reliant upon IE6 available a higher priority than making Youtube or Facebook work properly.

It seems to solve one problem with the introduction of more. A standard user does not usually have the required permissions to be installing plugins on a works machine. A home user is more than likely going to either going to be oblivious to the problem completely and be using a browser that works, or if they have some nouse they wouldn't be using an out dated browser anyway. It seems that this is only going to appeal to a very small demographic of users.

well its a good idea somehow i cant find how can i change the rendering engine from trident to webkit in ie (any option), i would get this, i really hate the interface of google chrome (tabs ABOVE), its a good option also for those who only know how to use ie (i know a LOT of people like that), it would be great if they make a addon for firefox with chrome frame too,

The only browser i know that got the 3 engines its lunascape which looks like **** the UI

Simon360 says that you can by using the URL

cf:http://mysite.com

and thinks they may make this easier to use at a later date.

Actually after reading Einlander's comment I believe that Google's approach is completely different from just "replacing" IE or even as an alternative for companies. Their goal for them more than likely is to be able to stop supporting IE6/IE7's engines in their own apps and support them through Frame. Some sites have already stopped adding new features for IE6 (eg. Facebook), but this way Google can say to it's users "you still want to use IE6 and use this web app? well just download this and we'll make sure it works". It's not a bad idea, but no, it's not meant to replace IE6/IE7. However, if it doesn't support Win2000 and only XP, that might be an issue worth looking into for them.

It's the cost of deployment that is keeping users in corporate settings or schools to consistently rely on IE6. Yes, there are free solutions obviously, but a lot of people forget that these institutions still have to pay their IT guys for deployment, testing, troubleshooting, etc. Google has a good idea ... at least they are trying to unite all the browsers to web standards. Something Microsoft has failed to do in its latest iterations of IE.

So google thinks the probem is too many standard coded web sites are being rendered poorly by IE, particularly IE6. Hence, Chrome Frame is the solution.

I would think that the bigger problem is most web sites are not using standard coded, but coded specifically for IE, particularly IE6. It is the non-IE browsers that has problems rendering those sites.

I'm an Firefox user and this is where IE tab plugin is useful.

This is actually quite nice. To force a page to use Chrome Frame instead of Trident, slap cf: in your address bar - for example, cf:http://www.facebook.com

Also, Chrome is far from the only Webkit browser alternative to Safari (even for Windows). There is also Arora (much lighter than even Chrome, let alone Safari, and just as free). However, the likely major driver for Chrome Frame is Google Apps/Docs, which is about to face the now wide-awake giant of Office Live Web (which Microsoft will make available for free).

This is a nice idea for anybody stuck using IE6. Sadly for Google, anybody that had the admin rights to install this plugin probably left IE6 a LONG time ago.

I'm not sure if this is the case yet, but for people without the Chrome Frame plugin installed, there should be a plugin installation functionality (similar to Flash, for example), which prompts the user to use an automated process to install the plugin to view the page or contents in an optimised manner.

BREAKING NEWS: Google Forces you to install Chrome Frame ifyou want to use Google Wave in IE. Else, they say use Firefox, Safari, or Chrome.
Dont you love how free and open Google is about choice?

Yes, since wave is supported in every browser except IE, somehow you manage to turn this around on Google, rather than Microsoft. Very nice.

Love the idea. Means IE6 users won't necessarily have to use a watered down version of any sites anymore, so long as the web developer chooses to recommend Chrome Frame. I think sites like Facebook and YouTube will.

This isn't just about IE 6 though, but 7 and 8 too. Those also lack numerous important technologies for the next generation of web services.

Future versions of Google Chrome should also include the optional setup of Google Chrome Frame.

It could help distribute the tech if the IE6/7 people at least get Chrome, because otherwise i don't think it will get a big distribution. If i were the stubborn user and read a friendly explanation in the setup, i guess i wouldn't mind installing it for the benefit of web devs without requiring a full separate browser.

Anyway, it's an excellent tool. I'd implement it in an instant.

Who cares, those are even out of Microsoft's support, much less Google's.

Those may then not be able to run this plugin. OK. But that's expected. They can also not run, jeez, the latest version and any new versions of Microsoft .NET Framework? They have far greater issues than not being able to run this plugin.

...? How does this solve the problem again? You still have to worry about people using IE6 without Chrome Frame which is the default setup. This solves the problem just as much as browser upgrades and alternative browsers have solved the problem.

It means that people using ie6, can new also view advanced web pages that support this plugin, like youtube. People will still run the huge security hole that is ie, but they maybe stuck using this.

So, no this doesn't cure world hunger, it doesn't help everybody stuck on ie6/7/8, but it helps some of them.

Why is everyone talking IE 6?

This is just as much for the more recent upgraders to IE 7 and 8. These also don't support e.g. SVG or HTML5 well or even at all, or CSS animations. IE 8 is much better than IE 7 thanks to the CSS2 support, but IE still sucks at supporting modern standards, bar no version. Google themselves run the Acid3 test in the video for this to summarize what they're talking about.

Jugalator said,
Why is everyone talking IE 6?

This is just as much for the more recent upgraders to IE 7 and 8. These also don't support e.g. SVG or HTML5 well or even at all, or CSS animations. IE 8 is much better than IE 7 thanks to the CSS2 support, but IE still sucks at supporting modern standards, bar no version. Google themselves run the Acid3 test in the video for this to summarize what they're talking about.

IE8 is compliant with CURRENTLY RATIFIED web standards. HTML5 and CSS3 are NOT ratified and are still being drafted.

I just tried it out to see if there were any advantages to it on one of my sites. I can't tell a bit of difference to be honest. My server logs recognize it as Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 8.0; Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; Trident/4.0; chromeframe; SLCC2; .NET CLR 2.0.50727; .NET CLR 3.5.30729; .NET CLR 3.0.30729; Media Center PC 6.0; InfoPath.3) so I guess it's working, but no difference really.

Foxxx428 said,
Yep. It's rendering in chrome, but you can't tell any difference.

What difference are you expecting? Do you use any advanced features on your site that aren't supported by IE (like css for example:) )

The first things i noticed missing were all my bing, translate and map accelerators....

it'll be nice if Google just hijack trident with webkit and leave IE8's GUI intact. I'm sure they can cut a deal with Microsoft on this.

Because some sites are incorrectly reporting that it greatly improves rendering speeds. All it does for me is make IE crash 2 out of 3 launches.

If people aren't installing a newer version of IE than 6... what's the chance they have chrome installed? honestly please apply some logic next time Google. Its a nice idea, but its going to make no difference.

Also as the site developer has to apply this it is even less likely to make a difference. Especially considering only those who care about standards will apply it.

Its good to have IE6 breaking things... it means eventually it will get left behind. Workaround and fixes will just keep it on the shelf longer.

Come on guys what is this the citation police.... they need the plugin installed! Every time someone says "Flash" is required do you tell them it's not and that only Flash Player is required?

Correction "...what's the chance they have Google Chrome Frame installed?"

Oh and to clarify my point on why I hate this:

If they cant install things this bears no solution
... unless the company wishes to install it as a workaround to retain usability on a local interface
... this however still requires all other websites that are broken to implement it which they will be little to no take up on

If they can install software they could just install another browser
... okay they would have to switch from one browser to the other
... or use IE tab/compatibility mode? Which means all websites work better regardless of other people updating their markup.
... why install chrome plugin and extend IE 6's life, we want it gone. Next they will be having plugins to revive even older more useless software.

i have no idea how they thought there was a demand for this. it has never been a UI issue. it's an issue of NEEDING the ie6 engine.

it would be much more useful if it defaulted to chrome rendering and required an IE6 tag to switch to IE mode for backwards compatibility.

also if you can install this, just install IE8 or chrome itself.

That's what I thought. Can't think of any obvious advantages. Would perhaps be more useful if it was a bit like IETab, where you could choose to use the chrome engine within IE.

it would be much more useful if it defaulted to chrome rendering and required an IE6 tag to switch to IE mode for backwards compatibility.

Actually, that would make it more useless.

The point is that you can install the engine, and then on sites like YouTube where IE6 is, iirc, no longer supported or soon to not be supported, YouTube can tell the browser to use the Chrome engine.

It is opt-in, meaning in office environments the local web apps some offices use can still run on the IE6 engine, while other sites that simply can't support IE6, or can only offer limited support for it, can opt into the Chrome frame, if it is available.

m.keeley - it is like IEtab, except the web developer clicks the button for you

I understand it's an opposite version of IETab but can imagine more would use it if the users could choose to use it rather than the developer directing it. Better still work both ways.

simon360 said,
Actually, that would make it more useless.

The point is that you can install the engine, and then on sites like YouTube where IE6 is, iirc, no longer supported or soon to not be supported, YouTube can tell the browser to use the Chrome engine.

It is opt-in, meaning in office environments the local web apps some offices use can still run on the IE6 engine, while other sites that simply can't support IE6, or can only offer limited support for it, can opt into the Chrome frame, if it is available.

m.keeley - it is like IEtab, except the web developer clicks the button for you ;)


Wow, somebody who get it. This won't work on all websites, only those ones requesting the chrome plugin. This is a brilliant idea. It will help some people, just not those poor people stuck in a Jurassic IT department.

m.keeley said,
I understand it's an opposite version of IETab but can imagine more would use it if the users could choose to use it rather than the developer directing it. Better still work both ways.

If you have the plugin installed, you can use cf:http://mysite.com to force chrome frame. It's not final yet, so my guess is that they will make it easier in a future version.

Leeoniya said,
i have no idea how they thought there was a demand for this. it has never been a UI issue. it's an issue of NEEDING the ie6 engine.

it would be much more useful if it defaulted to chrome rendering and required an IE6 tag to switch to IE mode for backwards compatibility.

also if you can install this, just install IE8 or chrome itself.


You guys with this stance seem to miss one important aspect here. Yes, usually it's because they NEED the IE 6 engine. But these users then often also just neglect all other browsers since it's too much of a hassle, even for the bulk of the sites out there were they do NOT need the IE 6 engine, thus helping to hold back the web. This plugin offer selectivity in which sites use the old IE 6 engine, and those who do not.

(also remember that this plugin is just as much for IE 7 and IE 8 -- those also suck in the department of modern standard support compared to the competition we're talking here... many of you seem to assume that IE 8 is alright, but it just recently came out with CSS2 support for christ sake.. We're talking SVG, Canvas, open audio/video via HTML5 here...)

m.keeley said,
That's what I thought. Can't think of any obvious advantages.

Powerful web services requiring better standards support than what even IE 8 can offer.

but they still have the IE6 trident engine, just when an incompatible site pops up that includes the tag, IE skips to using the Chrome rendering engine.

Jugalator said,
Powerful web services requiring better standards support than what even IE 8 can offer.

Then why not just install and use Chrome and be done with it?

simon360 said,
If you have the plugin installed, you can use cf:http://mysite.com to force chrome frame. It's not final yet, so my guess is that they will make it easier in a future version.

That makes more sense then, thanks for the info.

Jugalator said,
Powerful web services requiring better standards support than what even IE 8 can offer.

What web services? If your writing a web site in HTML5, your audience isn't going to be very large to begin with. Besides, writing a web site based on a standard that is still being drafted is a stupid move.

Hm... so it's IETab in reverse. Considering the ubiquity of the Google Toolbar, I suppose it could grow to quite an install base if Google so desires. This would be subverting the Internet Explorer market in what I could only describe as an evil manner.

If they don't distribute it far and wide, though, it's just a useless tech demo. Anybody taking bets yet?

So do you think Microsoft method of including a browser with the OS, so people who don't know any better will just use it, as an evil method for getting their numbers up as well? You know, considering their a monopoly and all.

And I am not quite sure what this has to do with the google toolbar. It is not like they are going to force it as a download with the google toolbar. They have never done anything like this before, it is more Microsoft and Apple that force downloads on you.

cakesy said,
So do you think Microsoft method of including a browser with the OS, so people who don't know any better will just use it, as an evil method for getting their numbers up as well? You know, considering their a monopoly and all.

And I am not quite sure what this has to do with the google toolbar. It is not like they are going to force it as a download with the google toolbar. They have never done anything like this before, it is more Microsoft and Apple that force downloads on you.


Oh yeh because Apple including a browser with the OS is a totally nice way for them to get their numbers up :rolleyes:

Google toolbar doesn't have to be forced on you, its just included with like every freeware app available on the internet..

All web developers need to do is add the following tag to their sites:
<meta-http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">

Such a simple request, but something tells me that web developers won't add it. And I think they're missing the point at why corporations won't upgrade their browsers - it has very little to do with GUI at all. Those corporates that won't install IE8 certainly won't give the go ahead to install the Chrome Frame, which is essentially a new browser anyway.

Well, not really. The Chrome engine will only be used if that tag is added to a page. So all other pages will render using the IE6, 7, or 8 engine.

So the IE engine is still in place. The Chrome engine can be utilized if the developer of the website calls on it.

Steeley said,

Such a simple request, but something tells me that web developers won't add it. And I think they're missing the point at why corporations won't upgrade their browsers - it has very little to do with GUI at all. Those corporates that won't install IE8 certainly won't give the go ahead to install the Chrome Frame, which is essentially a new browser anyway.

Exactly. I don't know where this would be able to be used. It seems like an interesting technology, but interesting or not it's without a viable market I think.

Steeley said,


Such a simple request, but something tells me that web developers won't add it. And I think they're missing the point at why corporations won't upgrade their browsers - it has very little to do with GUI at all. Those corporates that won't install IE8 certainly won't give the go ahead to install the Chrome Frame, which is essentially a new browser anyway.


Almost exactly what I was thinking. Also, partially because web developers think they have to add so much junk coding to their site to begin with, is what the issue is with IE6. It IS NOT that difficult to construct websites the are fully functional in EVERY browser out there.

As far as IE6, I would use that over IE7 anyday, so there probably are quite a few people out there who didn't like IE7 at all either and figure IE8 has to just as bad.

Another also is this just looks like a way for Google to get their paws into everyones computer and start phoning home like EVERYTHING of Googles does, and I will not tolerate that!

M_Lyons10 said,

Exactly. I don't know where this would be able to be used. It seems like an interesting technology, but interesting or not it's without a viable market I think.


While this will be hard to push in the corporate sector, as with any "new" plugin like Silverlight too, I definitely would call the private sector usually without this obstacle a "viable market". It's possible users with this plugin will get enhanced versions of the websites with more functinality, but those in the office or using "vanilla IE" will get more restrained functionality. A bit like Flash or Silverlight, only now for the web itself, not just animations and games.

Steeley said,

Such a simple request, but something tells me that web developers won't add it. And I think they're missing the point at why corporations won't upgrade their browsers - it has very little to do with GUI at all. Those corporates that won't install IE8 certainly won't give the go ahead to install the Chrome Frame, which is essentially a new browser anyway.


I agree. If corporations won't upgrade their browsers, then they won't install Google Chrome Frame. The corporate market for this is most likely limited.

The main reason why people still use IE6 is because they still need the old engine (old software, mainly at work) or because they don't have the ability to update (also mostly on work) and NOT because they like IE6 as a browser.

Whoever this software is designed for: they won't use it, even if they were able to...

Also: the site owner decides that the page has to be rendered by webkit instead of the user, which makes it even more useless

icooo said,
The main reason why people still use IE6 is because they still need the old engine (old software, mainly at work) or because they don't have the ability to update (also mostly on work) and NOT because they like IE6 as a browser.

Whoever this software is designed for: they won't use it, even if they were able to...

Mostly the people that still use Windows 2000, this OS does not support ie7

I kind of have to agree with this.

Although with the header, site owners can set if their site should use it (by default it'll use IE).

But it still requires the user to download or install. Which they won't do/can't do.

I think icooo missed the point that this works in IE 6, 7, and 8. And it is for those who prefer the UI of Internet Explorer, but want it to render pages using the webkit engine when that is appropriate. I'll certainly try it. I hope in the future though they add a level of user control (as well as webmaster control) over which engine is being used. Just in case you come across a site that renders better in webkit, but where the developer hasn't added the tag.

cabron said,
Mostly the people that still use Windows 2000, this OS does not support ie7

Did you RTFA?
For Internet Explorer 6, 7, and 8
on Windows Vista / XP SP2.

icooo said,
The main reason why people still use IE6...

We're talking technology on a level here that even IE 8 lacks.

But yes, IE 6 is of course the most extreme example here. But this is just as much for IE 7 users lacking CSS2 support, IE 8 lacking some HTML 5 support, and so on.

Also: the site owner decides that the page has to be rendered by webkit instead of the user, which makes it even more useless

I'm unsure of your reasoning here. The webmaster will normally know better than the user which technologies it's using. The main objective is not really to bind it to WebKit, but to higher levels of standard support, better on par with: Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. All of these.

Jugalator said,
I'm unsure of your reasoning here. The webmaster will normally know better than the user which technologies it's using.

I'm sure there are a lot of sites out there where the webmaster doesn't know or care about IE users. I just think it would be better to let the user decide as well, just like the compatibility view in IE8. Microsoft even has a list with sites that don't run in IE8, and where the tag isn't implemented, that gets automaticly downloaded by the browser.

Yes, this is awesome. I wonder how common it'll end up... Some sites are pretty ruthless about forcing Silverlight onto users after all (picking something else than Flash here, because that's so much more common and can almost be assumed to be installed). I expect at least the Google line-up of services to start using this.