Google's Chrome browser officially left beta earlier this month. But if the usage statistics are any indication, you're probably not using Chrome as your default browser, so there's a good chance that you haven't gotten around to downloading the final-release version.
Not to worry, though: If you installed the beta you're running Version 1.0 already. (I'll wait while you go and check.)
Surprised? You shouldn't be. Chrome is just one example of the new philosophy of application development that's taking hold, one that could change the very nature of IT as we understand it. At the heart of the philosophy is a simple idea: Apps are everything. The OS is irrelevant.
Users, not administrators
Chrome installation and update process flies in the face of traditional, OS-based software management. It's so freewheeling, in fact, that it's caused some alarm among the IT security community.
For starters, Chrome doesn't install into the regular system applications folder. Instead, it plants itself in the user's home directory. That way, users don't need administrative privileges to install it.
What's more, Chrome installs a background service, the Google Updater, which silently checks for new application patches while you work. If it finds any, it downloads and installs them automatically, without notifying you of what it's doing. There isn't any .exe file to download, nothing to double-click.
There's a certain logic to this. A fully patched browser is the best defense against malware and other Web-based attacks. Instead of teaching every Web-surfing granny how to maintain her applications with the latest patches, Google will simply take care of it for her.
In enterprise IT environments, however -- where a more ordered command-and-control structure is the norm -- Chrome's installation and update procedures have significant implications. And Chrome is just one of the new breed of applications that have begun quietly subverting not just traditional IT roles, but operating system roles as well.