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NetSuite: Chrome-ing it up for fun and profit

Google Chrome

NetSuite is first out of the box in support of Google Chrome -- and in support of the surge of buzz around the much-discussed, variously (depending on where you look) Firefox-killing, IE-killing, paradigm-killing browser.

Yes, the SMB and enterprise SaaS vendor released a statement today pledging that its wares are "Optimized with Google Chrome Browser." And yes, you'll need to set your personal anti-hype shielding to full for this one.

To anyone who's even glanced at a tech news site in the past couple of days, Chrome needs no introduction. But is it ready for prime time in the workplace? Even suggesting that seems... problematic.

Here's what NetSuite had to say:

> As the first business application with native support for iPhone and Firefox 3.0 (announced in July), NetSuite continues to focus on innovation around the latest browser technology and is also one of the first business applications to support Google Chrome. In addition to NetSuite CRM, Ecommerce and accounting software products, OpenAir -- a NetSuite company and a leader in on-demand professional services automation software -- also added support for the new Google Chrome Browser.

My question is: At what point is the line between "the latest" and "the so-early-it's-unfinished" blurred? I think it's right here, folks.

servers
A sample of Chrome's known issues from Google's support site. A good start, but is it ready for your business app?

Remember, Chrome is beta software. And uniquely for beta-happy Google, it's a release that feels like a beta.

You've got your early security concerns. A spartan UI. A lack of a great number of features that users expect from their Web browsers. As Walt Mossberg pointed out, there's no way to send links via e-mail, and no easy way to manage bookmarks.

OK, fine. But that's on top of a slew of glitches and other shortcomings that suggest it's not quite ready for its big enterprise debut. Chrome does not support SSL client authentication. It occasionally plays havoc with a number of online apps -- Google's own Apps included. Hmm.

None of these shortcomings are difficult to find. What's NetSuite's take on all this? It's not the flaws of the browser the company is focusing on... Rather, it's the innovation it wants to celebrate.

> "At NetSuite, we strive to offer our customers the latest innovations that will enable the greatest degree of choice, flexibility and productivity," said Per Jakobsen, Vice President of Product Management at NetSuite. "We salute Google for the innovation they've offered in their new Chrome Browser and are pleased to be able to offer early support for Chrome to all NetSuite and OpenAir customers."

Google Chrome Crash Aw Snap
Aw, Snap! A Chrome error message. You can also see this by navigating to the URL about:crash in the browser.

Does Chrome work better than other browsers? Sure, in some cases. I'm proud to report that (as I had desperately hoped) it doesn't get bogged down the same way Firefox does after a few hours of use. (Will Mozilla follow suit and redesign Firefox similarly? Fingers crossed.) For some individual users, Chrome's benefits may be worth the price of admission, glitches and all. But do enterprises want to make the same bet?

Even NetSuite retreats somewhat on its pledge of "support." Buried at the bottom of its press release, it admits that "NetSuite support for Google Chrome is being rolled out now in phases to customers. Once the rollout is complete in mid-October, all NetSuite and OpenAir functionality will work with Google Chrome's current release."

And, it adds a caveat: "Google's Chrome Browser, as a new release, is still in beta version and has not yet been certified for full release by Google."

Oh. Er... Okay, then. So, does this hedging sound to anyone else like NetSuite is placing the onus for dealing with Chrome problems soundly on its users? They're proud to tout support for Chrome, only it's not available to everyone yet, and frankly, doesn't really seem all that finished.

I'm sold -- how about you?

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