Now that Google has its Chrome browser available in beta, the question is: Will it shine in corporate environments?
Observers are reminding themselves that this is just a beta, in fact, a beta by Google's own admission that doesn't have the breadth of features to match current browsers.
But the features it does have are fuelling thoughts about where the browser is or should be headed in a time when the notion of online applications is coming of age.
Google says Chrome will provide more speed, stability and security for Web users, and combined with Google Gears, which allows users to take Web-based applications offline.
Chrome also is fuelling talk about where Google itself is headed. Some say Google's effort may be as much proof-of-concept as future product in terms of showing Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple and others what can be done, and prodding them to upgrade their own browser software.
Still others believe there will eventually be a showdown with Microsoft and a Google end-run at building an enterprise computing business. Clearly Chrome could not have been timed better to coincide with Microsoft's Beta 2 release of Internet Explorer 8, a juxtaposition that Google explained as a inadvertent leak of a comic book trumpeting the browser's virtues.
"Google has generated a lot of excitement," says Forrester analyst Sheri McLeish." But it is a beta and from an enterprise perspective it is not ready for serious consideration as a replacement for IE."
McLeish says that anybody who thinks Microsoft doesn't know what is at stake with cloud computing on the horizon and doesn't know how to compete accordingly "is not based in reality."
The infighting, however, will be good.
Google, she says, is innovative and "anyone developing a browser needs to keep pace, and that will drive better features that will benefit users and consumers alike."
On the competitive front, Google has certainly been making inroads on Microsoft's turf in the form of online productivity applications and other services such as Google Earth that are finding their way into corporate application mashups.
In addition, Google and IBM earlier this year unveiled a cloud computing environment they are working and testing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University that runs on Linux and includes Xen virtualization and an Apache implementation of the Google File System called Hadoop.
While future plans were not disclosed, the pair said the cloud would eventually be used to support an array of services and applications tailored for consumers and businesses.
Microsoft has been developing its own cloud environment called Live Mesh, which it plans to update in October at its Professional Developers Conference.
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