Mozilla joins Microsoft attack on Google Chrome Frame

Mozilla has sided with Microsoft in an attack on Google for its Chrome plug-in for IE


Mozilla executives have joined with Microsoft in the criticism of Google for its pitching of the Chrome Frame plug-in as a solution to Internet Explorer's poor performance. one executive arguing that Google's move will result in "browser soup."

Released last week, Chrome Frame lets Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), IE7 and IE8 use the Chrome browser's WebKit rendering engine, as well as its high-performance V8 JavaScript engine. Google pitched the plug-in as a way to instantly improve the performance of the notoriously slow IE , and as a way for web developers to support standards IE can't handle, including HTML 5.

Specifically, said Google, it was pushing Chrome Frame because it decided it wasn't worth trying to make its new collaboration and communications tool, Google Wave, work with IE. Google developers spent "countless hours" on tweaking Wave for IE, but gave up.

"We could continue in this fashion, but using Google Chrome Frame instead lets us invest all that engineering time in more features for all our users, without leaving Internet Explorer users behind," argued Lars Rasmussen and Adam Schuck of Google's Wave team last week.

Mitchell Baker, the former CEO of Mozilla and currently the chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, strongly disagreed with Google's tactic to slip Chrome inside IE.

"The overall effects of Chrome Frame are undesirable," Baker said in an entry to her personal blog. "I predict positive results will not be enduring and - and to the extent it is adopted - Chrome Frame will end in growing fragmentation and loss of control for most of us, including web developers."

According to Baker, Chrome Frame's browser-in-a-browser will confuse users and render some of their familiar tools useless. "Once your browser has fragmented into multiple rendering engines, it's very hard to manage information across websites. Some information will be manageable from the browser you use and some information from Chrome Frame. This defeats one of the most important ways in which a browser can help people manage their [web] experience."

But Chrome Frame's biggest problem, said Baker, is that it cedes control to the site, not the person surfing. And that will just confuse users.

"For many people, Chrome Frame will make the web even more unknowable and confusing," Baker said. "Image you download Chrome Frame. You go to a website. What rendering engine do you end up using? That depends on the website now, not on you."

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