Chrome Frame Leaves Beta, All Set to Hijack an IE Near You

Google’s controversial Chrome Frame browser plug-in is now out of beta and ready for prime time.

Chrome Frame is an Internet Explorer plug-in that replaces the default IE rendering engine, which is lacking in support for web standards, with the more modern and capable engine that powers Google’s Chrome browser. It essentially embeds Google’s browser inside any tab or window within Microsoft’s browser, giving even the older, antiquated versions of IE the gift of enhanced JavaScript rendering and support for HTML5 technologies like embedded audio and video.

So if you’re stuck using IE6 or IE7 at work and would like to see what the latest and greatest on the web actually looks like, you can grab the official release of Chrome Frame from Google. If you’ve been using the Chrome Frame beta, you’ll automatically be updated to the latest version.

According the Chrome blog, the latest release of Chrome Frame is three times faster on Windows Vista and Windows 7, and the most common conflicts with other IE plug-ins have been solved.

While it sounds like a good idea — improving the web by bootstrapping older, less capable versions of IE — Chrome Frame has proven to be quite controversial. In the past, Mozilla Vice President of Engineering Mike Shaver has quite convincingly argued that Chrome Frame for IE muddles the user’s understanding of browser security, and in the end will create more confusion and little benefit.

Still, whether or not it’s a good idea, Chrome Frame appears to be here to stay. The Google Chromium blog reports that sites like DeviantART and Github have already added support for Chrome Frame. Google Docs and YouTube are also on board, and Gmail and Google Calendar will soon support Chrome Frame as both services begin to drop support for older browsers.

The next version of Internet Explorer will have expanded support for HTML5 and a much better JavaScript engine. It’s in beta now, but the final release of IE9 is still several months away. Our estimate on its arrival is early 2011.

If you’d like users to see your site via Chrome Frame — provided they have it installed — all you need to do is add a head tag to your pages:

<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">

Alternately, you can had an HTTP header using your Apache (or similar) webserver configuration. See the video below for more info on making sure your site triggers Google Chrome Frame when it’s available.

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