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Google Cyber Attack Demonstrates Challenges to Chrome

A recent twist in the China v. Google (GOOG) saga ironically illustrates some of the problems the company has in getting people and businesses to adopt its Chrome browser, and that could have some interesting repercussions on its future Chrome OS.

The twist is that security vendor McAfee (MFE) says that the people who electronically attacked Google used a vulnerability in Microsoft (MSFT) Internet Explorer, and not just any version of IE, but IE 6.0. That's right, people at Google actually use a version of IE that is two major revs back from the current one. The irony, of course, is that Google, which has its own Chrome browser, must have employees using Microsoft's. Microsoft posted a security advisory about it and why not? It's not as though finding security holes in Microsoft software is that rare a situation, and it must have provided a fair amount of humor to subtly point out that some number of Google employees actually use Microsoft's browser.

That's where the business issues of Chrome come into play. As McAfee CTO George Kurtz, CTO of McAfee answered when Computerworld asked him about why Google wouldn't be using Chrome:

"It is easy to come to that conclusion, but IE is ubiquitous and is used in almost every corporation. Keep in mind, there are many enterprise applications that only work with IE--so it is difficult to just mandate an alternate browser even if you are the creator of that browser."
Anyone who has ever sold technology to corporations will agree that this is a familiar scenario. Once companies start using a product, they are slow to change again. If the software is, like IE, popular enough, pushing it out of the enterprise can be harder than trying to nudge a stubborn elephant. It's the power of incumbency, and a terribly difficult hurdle to clear. It's no wonder that Chrome has barely moved in market adoption since its first few weeks. If it doesn't work with major software, what companies can use it? And that spells potential difficulty when it comes to getting corporations -- a market Google badly wants -- to further adopt Chrome OS. If they won't use the browser, why would they use a netbook operating system sitting on top of it?

Image via stock.xchng user guitargoa, site standard license.

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