Monday, October 13, 2008

Chrome - the Google vs. Microsoft War Heats Up...

After a three-month hiatus, the blog is back...

In February, I wrote a column called "The $44.6 Billion Paradigm Shift" for STC's Intercom magazine. The column looked at Microsoft's aborted attempt to buy Yahoo and what that meant strategically. The gist of the column was that Microsoft saw a long-term threat from Google as the latter works to shift applications from the desktop to the web. Such a shift would make Microsoft's domination of the desktop irrelevant and cause a disastrous cut in Microsoft's revenue stream. (If you don't need the desktop, you don't need Windows...)

The latest sally in this war comes from Google with its release of Chrome in early September. On the surface, Chrome is just a browser. But it also offer an environment in which to run applications like Google Docs, without going through Windows. It has a ways to go today; we're looking at v.1 or, more accurately, a beta v.1 that really uses the Chrome interface to launch the application, which then opens in your regular browser. But the idea is likely to be refined in later releases, just as Microsoft went through several early releases of Windows before getting it (largely) right. If you remember the infamous Microsoft Bob, you get the idea.

I'll discuss Chrome in more detail in my Bleeding Edge column for STC's Intercom. If you're not an STC member but would like a copy of the column, email me at the beginning of November.

One side note about Chrome - how does it work with the output from popular help authoring tools. In a totally unscientific test, I tried viewing two different WebHelp projects through Chrome, one created in RoboHelp 7, the other in Flare 3.1 and then imported into Flare 4. The results?

Everything seemed to work in the Flare project - graphics, links, formatting, and navigation tabs (TOC, Index, etc.)

Almost everything seemed to work in the RoboHelp project. The graphics, links, and formatting all worked, which makes sense since they're basically standard HTML. But I ran into two problems. First, when I opened a topic containing a Captivate movie, the movie display box appeared but a message indicated that I needed to download the Flash player. I did and the movie ran fine, but I'm not sure why I had to download the player since it was already on the machine. More serious was the fact that the navigation tabs displayed but the TOC and Index tabs were empty. More research on the horizon...

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