Google's Chrome Enterprise Bundle gives organizations another secure web browser to choose from, pleasing end users and making management easier for IT.
Chrome Enterprise Bundle, released in May, is a downloadable application package with tools specific to business use. It lets IT administrators enforce more than 200 policies on the Chrome browser, such as enabling website blacklisting, content filtering, two-factor authentication and more. This means organizations can better manage Chrome and have a reason to lean away from typical enterprise browsers, such as Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer.
"Having control of Chrome or any browser does play an important role in terms of controlling what [users] are doing," said Dominic Namnath, CIO at Tri-Counties Regional Center, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Barbara, Calif. "Disabling the ability for users to download and the ability to track activity are big."
IT bears Google vs. Microsoft browser battle
Google Chrome is the most popular browser among consumers, according to NetMarketShare. In May, Chrome had the highest user market share of all desktop browsers at 59.36%, ahead of Microsoft Internet Explorer at 17.55%, Mozilla Firefox at 11.98%, Microsoft Edge at 5.63% and Apple Safari at 3.56%. Chrome was also the most popular on mobile devices, with a share of 54.15%.
In the enterprise, however, organizations tend to go with Edge or Internet Explorer for their security and manageability, said Jack Narcotta, analyst at Technology Business Research in Hampton, N.H.
Edge rolled out in July 2015 as the default browser in Windows 10, and it's considered to have high security standards. For example, it supports Windows Hello for secure authentication and SmartScreen Filter to prevent against phishing attacks.
Still, IT professionals have expressed issues with Edge, including freezing, failure to start and functionality problems, such as the inability to run some legacy web apps.
Douglas Grosfieldpresident and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions
"I don't think [Microsoft has] figured out Edge yet," said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Five Nines IT Solutions, an IT consultancy in Kitchener, Ont. "Edge certainly improved a lot in the [Windows 10] Creators Update, but it's not quite there."
Tri-Counties Regional Center, for instance, opted not to use Edge due to its inability to maintain settings. If a user changes a setting and Microsoft updates the application or OS, it reverts to the default settings, and the user must re-edit the setting and restart the PC. Namnath has also seen issues with Edge crashing, he said.
"It's a crapshoot if it will even start," he added. "If Microsoft updates something, it'll stop working. It's basically a travesty that they can't figure out how to retain settings."
The nonprofit delivers Chrome to Windows 10 users instead; it doesn't currently have a way to manage the browser and instead trains users on how to avoid web threats.
"The web browser ... is where the majority of malware comes across," Grosfield said. "If you can protect the browser, that is a big step in the right direction."
What's in Google Chrome Enterprise Bundle?
To help companies manage Chrome more easily, the new Enterprise Bundle includes the browser installer, administrative policy templates and a legacy browser extension. The policy templates allow IT to put the right policies in place for each situation. The extension allows the browser to support legacy web applications -- a big differentiator between Chrome and Microsoft Edge. Organizations with Edge typically have to revert to an older version of Internet Explorer to use some legacy web apps.
"Application compatibility is a fact of life," said Robby Hill, founder and CEO of HillSouth, a Google and Microsoft partner and customer in Florence, S.C. "We ... often recommend non-Microsoft web browsers when memory is a concern, such as shared computing environments, or application compatibility from a Microsoft web browser is a challenge."
Chrome Enterprise Bundle also supports Citrix XenApp, which allows IT shops to deploy the browser as a virtual application to any device.
"This is the consumer Chrome browser growing up and getting a job," Narcotta said. "Giving IT controls they ... haven't had with Chrome is a big step for Google in the enterprise to be taken more seriously."
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