Google is going after one of its biggest competitors with a cannonball by announcing that its Chrome browser will support Windows XP users until at least 2015.
That's a year longer than Microsoft plans to continue to support XP, which has been one of the most popular and rugged Windows operating systems built by Microsoft to date. Many millions of business and home users are still running Windows XP on their computers, which presents them with a quandary come April 2014, when Microsoft will stop providing software and security updates for the long-lived operating system.
So what's up with Google's move? The idea is that it's all about serving users while they continue to make the transition from XP to other operating systems, Mark Larson, director of engineering for Google Chrome, wrote in an Oct. 16 post on the Google Official Enterprise Blog.
Of course, shoving a sharp stick into the side of Microsoft in connection with the oft-delayed demise of support for XP likely has nothing to do with Google's motivations.
"Since unpatched browser bugs are often used by malware to infect computers, we're extending support for Chrome on Windows XP, and will continue to provide regular updates and security patches until at least April 2015," wrote Larson. "We recognize that hundreds of millions of users, including a good chunk of current Chrome users, still rely on XP. Moreover, many organizations still run dozens or even hundreds of applications on XP and may have trouble migrating.
"Our goal is to support Chrome for XP users during this transition process," he continued. "Most importantly, Chrome on XP will still be automatically updated with the latest security fixes to protect against malware and phishing attacks."
This is an interesting move for Google, essentially firing a shot over Microsoft's bow by supporting a product that Microsoft has been trying to kill off for years so it can sell newer Windows operating system versions to generate revenue. But those desires by Microsoft have been put off by Windows XP users who have refused to give it up and who have ultimately pressured Microsoft to extend its support several times over the last few years.
The extended Chrome support for XP is likely to have fans, especially among smaller businesses that haven't really planned their next moves once official Microsoft support ends for XP.
In April 2013, Google announced upgrades for its enterprise management tools for Chrome in an effort to bolster its use and adoption by business users around the world. One of the new tools was a cloud-based management capability for Google Apps for Business and Education customers to make it easier for employers to allow their workers to bring in their PCs or devices for work. Another improvement is Legacy Browser Support, which IT administrators can configure to automatically launch an alternate browser when a user wants to run a Web app that is built for older browsers and not compatible with Chrome. By using the Legacy Browser Support option, employees on Chrome are automatically switched to a legacy browser when they begin using an older app.