Google Pulls Plug On Chrome Frame

The high proportion of people using modern web browsers means Chrome Frame is no longer needed, according to Google

Google is retiring its Chrome Frame plug-in that allows users of older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser to see newer content that wasn’t built to be displayed on older browsers.

The Chrome Frame plug-in will cease to be supported by Google starting in January 2014, wrote Robert Shield, a Google Chrome engineer, in a 13 June post on The Chromium Blog.

Leading edge browsers

Chrome Frame was unveiled by Google in September 2009 when “many people were using browsers that lagged behind the leading edge“, wrote Shield. “In order to reach the broadest base of users, developers often had to either build multiple versions of their applications or not use the new capabilities at all. We created Chrome Frame – a secure plug-in that brings a modern engine to old versions of Internet Explorer – to allow developers to bring better experiences to more users, even those who were unable to move to a more capable browser.”

chrome logoThings have changed since then, though, as more users have upgraded their computers, operating systems and browsers in the meantime.

“Today, most people are using modern browsers that support the majority of the latest web technologies,” wrote Shield. “Better yet, the usage of legacy browsers is declining significantly and newer browsers stay up to date automatically, which means the leading edge has become mainstream.”

With that in mind, Google made the decision to drop the Chrome Frame plug-in because it has become unneeded, he wrote.

“Given these factors we’ve decided to retire Chrome Frame, and will cease support and updates for the product in January 2014. If you are a developer with an app that points users to Chrome Frame, please prompt visitors to upgrade to a modern browser.”

Google has provided an FAQ page where any remaining users of Chrome Frame can find out how to make a transition to a modern web browser.

“It’s unusual to build something and hope it eventually makes itself obsolete, but in this case we see the retirement of Chrome Frame as evidence of just how far the web has come,” wrote Shield.

2009 debut

Google Chrome Frame debuted back in 2009 as an open-source plug-in that enabled Chrome’s WebKit rendering engine to run in older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. The problem with the old versions of IE was that they often didn’t adequately support newer web technologies such as HTML5 or offer the performance boost associated with JavaScript, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The plug-in was suited for IE versions 6, 7 and 8.

Frame was created at the time because back then IE had a web browser market share of 67 percent despite the steady nibbling from Mozilla Firefox and Chrome. With that solid user base, Google created Google Chrome Frame as a workaround, particularly for corporate users pinned to IE.

Not everyone was happy about the Chrome Frame project at that time, however. After the release, Microsoft claimed that Google’s Chrome Frame made the Internet Explorer less secure.

Microsoft accused Google of expanding the attack surface for IE, making it easier for hackers to make attacks. Microsoft warned users not to use Chrome Frame, citing the possibility that it could double potential security attacks from hackers.

Google countered at the time that the plug-in was designed with security in mind from the start.

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Originally published on eWeek.