Can’t upgrade Internet Explorer 6 but still want to enjoy the wonders of the [modern] internet? Grab Google Chrome Frame (IE addon).

Internet Explorer 6 is the epitome of all things evil on the internet. Released in 2001, when the web was primitive compared to what it is todays, IE6 lacks the support for many new web development technologies. If you ever discuss IE6 with a web developer you may be subject to a few profane words. dotTech it self has not escaped the IE6 curse: just recently I had to do some simple hacks to make dotTech more IE6 friendly.

Now IE6 being so crappy is not really the problem; it is almost 10 years old and there are two newer version of IE out there which improve web compatibility so it is hard to blame Microsoft for the technological mishaps of IE6. The problem is IE6 is still widely used by many people around the globe. Case in point: IE6 is the second most popular browser used by dotTechies (!!!!).While some people, who use IE6, cannot upgrade because of hardware limitations on their computers, research shows most people are limited to IE6 by their workplace and/or work related activities. To put it simply, corporations are making the public suffer because they don’t want to spend the big bucks to upgrade their outdated information systems. Well Google is aiming to change that.

Google has recently released an IE addon (works on IE 6/7/8) called Google Chrome Frame. According to Google, “Google Chrome Frame brings open web technologies and a speedy JavaScript engine to Internet Explorer”. In other words, Google Chrome Frame turns IE into… Google Chrome without ever forcing the user to ditch IE6 (think of IE Frame if you have Firefox to better understand this addon).

Google Chrome Frame works in a simple, and un-disruptive, way. Web developers who believe Google Chrome Frame will generate a page much better than IE simply insert a meta tag in their pages. When an IE user, who has Google Chrome Frame installed, comes across that page, the page is automatically loaded using Google Chrome Frame instead of IE; if an IE user does not have Google Chrome Frame, he/she is given a message to consider downloading Google Chrome Frame. This developer-based approach to using Google Chrome Frame ensures Google Chrome Frame is undisruptive to those users that use IE6 for legacy systems which need IE6 to work (i.e. if a developer knows his/her website, web service, or other technology only works in IE6, he/she will not incorporate Google Chrome Frame into their website) but still enables the user to experience the pleasures of modern web technologies when applicable. This video explains it a lot better:

I don’t personally have IE6 (is it possible to even download now?) but reading around, I am told Google Chrome Frame has little to no effect on computer resource usage. In other words, you won’t see any significant increase in RAM or CPU usage when using Google Chrome Frame vs when using IE6 without it. Cool.

Now of course Microsoft does not appreciate Google planting trees in its backyard. Microsoft has publicly discouraged users from installed GFE because “Google Chrome Frame makes IE more insecure”. To backup up its claim, Microsoft has pointed to the vast security improvements made to IE8; and in their defense, Microsoft is right: IE8 is a very good browser on its own. However I believe GFE is better suited for IE6 (and to an extent IE7) users anyway; if you are using IE8 you probably don’t need/want GFE. So, if you are an IE6 (and IE7) user, I highly suggest you give GFE a try.

You can grab Google Chrome Frame from the following link:

Supported OS: Windows XP and above only

Google Chrome Frame homepage [download page]

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