Categories: applications

Google Chrome is not usable in a corporate Windows environment

Companies around the world seem to love Internet Explorer. It's the number 1 corporate browser and every web designer has horror stories to tell about how many workarounds they have to put in to support IE 6-8 and how the update cycle is not only way too long but also how new versions don't help with companies that don't want to update. Firefox and Chrome release new versions every few weeks, constantly innovating and improving, while Internet Explorer has to be supported for years.

Why don't companies switch away from Internet Explorer and use modern browsers like Firefox or Chrome?

Now, I can't speak too much about Firefox (apart from the fact that maybe the lack of an official integration into Windows Systems Management features is an issue - FrontMotion is an alternative, but it's not officially Mozilla) but as a corporate developer I can definitely speak why Chrome is not a good browser for corporate environments running Windows: Google has a long history of shipping broken releases of Chrome.

Let's back this up with facts, shall we?

One of our internal websites has an <img> tag which references an image on another internal website, both websites are behind NTLM authentication. The simplest thing in the world: The Image gives an auth challenge and the browser answers it, downloads the image and displays it. Works in Internet Explorer since forever, works in Firefox (may display a login prompt if the other website isn't in the list of trusted urls), used to work in Chrome.

Except that it no longer works, Chrome 30 doesn't load the images anymore. The main bug report for this is 303046 from October 2. Chrome 31 was released on November 12, 2013 and fixed that - 41 days turnaround time.

Chrome 23 had a bug where a failed Kerberos Auth would not fall back to NTLM. Kerberos wasn't even supported in the beginning, I think it took until version 6 or 7 and they had to solve some issues involving proxies after that.

Here's a fun one in Chrome 19 (well, duplicate of this one): A POST request with an attachment to an NTLM Authenticated site would destroy the attachment. That might even have been a regression since a similar bug was reported in Chrome 7.

Chrome 5 would fill up our IIS logs because it was requesting the favicon.ico. Thousands of times, every few milliseconds while the user was on the page.

Each of these bugs were in a stable build that was pushed to users through automatic updates, and sometimes these issues had been reported in the Dev/Canary build weeks in advance yet still made it all the way through the release process. That in turn means that it would take weeks before a fix would be available in another stable release.

Chrome might be a great browser if you're not in a corporate environment or if your corporate environment doesn't run on Windows. But if you are a Windows shop that uses NTLM authentication, Chrome just isn't stable enough to use, unless you're willing to have some of your internal sites broken for several weeks every time Chrome ships another NTLM-related bug in the stable release. It seems that Google's priority is the fancy new HTML5 stuff, not rock solid corporate NTLM support.

Feel free to complain about Internet Explorer as much as you want, but please don't wonder why companies aren't migrating to other browsers when other browsers simply don't support corporate environments with their specific management/policy and authentication needs.