Google Chrome for Business

GCN LAB REVIEWS

Google has a browser for business

Chrome for Business offers browsing austerity and management options

The Web browser has become integral to the daily tasks of nearly all computer users. But it can be extremely difficult to manage a group Internet security policy when the basic tool providing access to the Internet resides on each individual computer. That is further complicated when those same computers are being used by different users at different times.

Google Chrome for Business allows a network administrator to more closely manage version control and security policy for Web-browsing users. The program runs on the system level, so every user on every machine is using exactly the same instance of Chrome. It also allows a network administrator to easily push Chrome installation, policies and updates through to all network users.

The Chrome Windows installer was easy to download and install, as you might expect. And, as you also might expect, the first thing the program does is try to get you to make it your default browser. That tactic is used by every browser available, and it is always either annoying or entertaining, depending on the mood you are in.


GCN Lab Reviewers Choice Award 2011 Google Chrome for Business
Pros: Clean interface; fast page loads.
Cons: Some default settings might be undesirable.
Performance: A
Ease of Use: A-
Features: A-
Value: A+
Price: Free

Related coverage:

Google Chrome to guard against drive-by malware


Then it was a matter of downloading the policy templates. Google provides group policy templates for both older and newer versions of Windows. Next, we edited the templates in the Windows Group Policy editor to get the settings just the way we wanted them. Once we were done, we used Msiexec to select computers in the network. Most means for pushing installation bundles also would work. Regardless of how you get there, at that point, all your users will be browsing with the same Chrome setup.

The interface is rather austere. The space above the browser window is mostly made up of the text entry bar. That’s right, bar — as in singular. There is just one place to enter text for URL addresses and searches. Each item in the list of predictive text that shows up as you type has a symbol next to it that tells you whether it’s a link or search result.

The tabs for multiple browsing windows are neatly tucked above the text entry bar. They are about the same size as they are in other browsers, but having them up there almost makes them seem to take up less space.

That is the general feel you get from all of Chrome’s layout choices: less intrusive and more room for browsing. They have eschewed the menu line that their major competitors still have as a default. There isn’t even a tiny Chrome logo in the upper left corner taking up even that little amount of space.

Google knows that security is a major issue for network administrators who have users with Web access, and that is especially true for government. Chrome has what it calls Safe Browsing, which is an array of malware and phishing detection software. When a user tries to go to a site whose address matches one that is in Google’s known threat list, a warning screen will pop up instead of the intended page. This warning will tell the user what type of problem Google has with the site — whether phishing or malware, or even an expired security certificate — and recommend that the user should not continue to the site. If the network administrator has set the group policy just right, the option to continue to the questionable site won’t even show up.

If somehow some malware does get through or if one website crashes or loses connection, all is not lost. The sandboxing that Chrome implements will prevent whatever happens on one tab from affecting any of the other tabs in the same instance of Chrome.

Of course, the best aspect of Google Chrome for Business is its price. The fact that it is a free download shouldn’t surprise anyone, but that didn’t stop us from giving it a top Value grade.

Chrome is a secure browsing platform that is easy to implement across an entire network. Its interface might take some getting used to, but it is definitely worth the effort, especially if you don’t want your browser to get in the way of actually browsing or you feel that the perfect browser would be completely invisible.

Google Chrome for Business earns a Reviewer’s Choice designation.

Google, www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/chromebrowser.html

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