Google Chrome setup

Google today released (after a bit of a comic-book pre-release, presumably due to the Labor Day holiday in the US) Google Chrome, its long-rumored open-source browser. Plenty of people will talk (endlessly) about the implications of another browser and how well Google Chrome and Chromium (the open source project) do the job. Blah, blah. Whatever. What’s really interesting is a couple of choices Google made about deployment:

  1. The Google Chrome download is a svelte 474K bootstrapper that downloads the setup bits. No offline installer is available (unless it’s well-hidden).
  2. Google Chrome is a "composite" setup: The guts of the application are installed by a non-MSI self-extractor. However, Google Chrome includes Google Gears, the browser add-in/library that adds a bunch of functionality for making apps-in-the-browser more powerful. The Gears in Google Chrome is installed by an MSI package. And yes, it’s built with WiX.
  3. The Google Updater is no longer a LocalSystem service; instead, it starts at logon from the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run registry key.
  4. Last and absolutely not least: Google Chrome is a per-user application. It even installs in the per-user LocalAppDataFolder. (The included Google Gears is marked as "UAC compliant.")

That Google Chrome is a per-user app is amazing. Even with UAC on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, it’s so easy to say that "everyone’s used to needing admin privileges to install." That Google took the extra effort to limit themselves to the capabilities of a per-user app says a lot about their desire to have:

  • a low-impact setup
  • and absolutely no barriers to entry.

I wonder if it’s the start of a trend…

10 Replies to “Google Chrome setup”

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  2. What kind of trend would we want here? Windows Installer Tao already talks about Per-User installs are difficult to service and Robert Flaming has blogged that this type of model is good for “viral applications distributed via the web” but not good if you want to “grow-up to be distributed inside a corporation.”

    This type of deployment story has it’s uses, but it’ll be problematic for enterprises that want to deploy the software. There should also be an offiline installer that supports an AllUsers install using tools such as SMS.

    (BTW I repackaged apps and pushed them with GPO and SMS for 2 years in an 18,000 seat forest so I’m not just quoting blog articles… I’m speaking from experience.)

    Eitherway, I’ve been using the browser for a bit now and I’m liking it a lot.

  3. despite the rumors, i’m finding Chrome’s speed to be inconsistent; it seems to alternate between going lightning fast and then hanging for no apparent reason…

  4. Funny you should blog about this. I’m all for bootstrap installers, but it seems Google’s does not respect IE’s proxy settings, which means that many folks will be stuck. A little ironic, I think.

  5. My company has banned Chromium from corporate computers due to the draconian EULA which gives Google too much authority over content created in the browser.

  6. I’m stunned at a couple of things.

    First, I see nothing that isn’t already in Opera, other than —

    Second, Google’s desire, ability, and intent to track all characters typed with IP frightens the hell out of me.

    Third – the thing’s an abomination in a corporate environment. Beta software? on non-priveleged users machines? Skype also did the per user install, and then there was a skype per use virus. Skype is blocked in our environment now. I’m not yet sure how we’re going to block this abomination.

  7. The per-user install was the first thing I noticed since I run as a normal user on XP.

    I’m a fan of it.

  8. The per user install is extremely stupid. I run multiple user on my home computer, so it means that Chrome has to be installed separately for each user. At 80 MB it’s not large, but with 5 user that’s over 400 MB of drive space for a 80 MB app.

    Also for a corporate environment it make deploying the software a nightmare. Instead of installing the app once on 5,000+ machines you now have to install it dozens of times per 5,000+ machines.

  9. Talking about low-impact setup: Just recently I bought and installed the X-Plane flight simulator as an alternative to MS Flight Simulator. I was amazed its default installation location is the user’s desktop! Also the installer doesn’t create any desktop or start menu shortcuts. It turns out they want X-Plane to have an low-impact setup. Because of all the problems with installing to the Program Files directory the decided on using the desktop. And creating no shortcuts and not using the registry also makes the uninstall a breeze:just delete the X-Plane installation directory. Very simple, but I like it.

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