Executive Summary:

The entry of Google Chrome into the market initiates a new phase in the web browser wars. This phase might present some challenges to SQL Server developers, who could wind up needing to use JavaScript instead of ASP.NET to create front-end applications.

Google’s recent beta release of the Chrome browser has reignited the fight for control of the web. It’s no secret that Microsoft has owned the browser space ever since it vanquished Netscape several years ago by bundling Internet Explorer (IE) with the Windows OS. The emergence of the Mozilla Firefox browser never really threatened Microsoft. Although Firefox has gained about 20 percent global market share, it’s never mounted a serious bid to overtake IE. However, the continued success of Firefox underscores the dissatisfaction that businesses and end users have with IE, and perhaps with Microsoft in general.

Why Is Google in the Browser Business?


Google is a far cry from little, unthreatening, open-source Mozilla. Google’s release of Chrome is nothing short of a shot across Microsoft’s bow. Microsoft sees Google as its primary competitor: Google’s web-only orientation threatens to undermine Microsoft’s desktop dominance by supplanting the use of standalone software with web-based tools and services. Although we’re not quite there yet, it’s clear that cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) are powerful emerging trends in the tech industry. The web browser enables SaaS (or Software Plus Services—S+S— if you feel particularly Microsoft-inclined) and cloud computing.

Although I didn’t expect it, I can see why Google wanted to develop a browser of its own. Google’s offerings are exclusively web-based and most users get to them via Microsoft’s IE. This leaves control of Google’s key web access technology in the hands of its biggest competitor. By creating Chrome, Google attempts to wrest control of this critical link from Microsoft and remove its dependence on its rival’s browser. Microsoft will certainly want to maintain its market position on the web and on the desktop. The software giant will continue to promote software-oriented solutions. This could deter Microsoft from whole-heartedly supporting future web technologies that might threaten its core business lines.

Does Chrome have a shot at the title? If the continued success of Firefox is any indication, I think it does. At first, to even know about Firefox you had to be a bit tech savvy—even finding it was a challenge. Not so with Chrome. Everyone who uses Google (and isn’t that everyone?) will be exposed to Chrome. Chrome is sure to have a major impact on IE and Firefox users.

Chrome’s Impact on SQL Server Development


Although SQL Server isn’t at the forefront of this epic battle, there’s no doubt that SQL Server developers will be affected by the new Chrome browser. Today, the majority of SQL Server applications are created with ASP and ASP.NET. The emergence of Chrome, with its revved up V8 JavaScript engine, has the potential to reshape the face of web applications. It could affect the future of web development technologies that will need to access SQL Server’s database services on the backend.

Who Wins?


In the long run, Google’s entry into the browser market is a win-win situation. Microsoft’s development of IE stagnated until Firefox emerged. Firefox spurred sleeping Microsoft into action, which resulted in a new and improved IE that incorporated the best features of Firefox. At the very least, Chrome’s arrival on the scene will encourage Microsoft to protect its market position by making improvements in IE. This competition is good news for users: No matter which browser you choose you’ll be using a better product. Beyond that, Chrome might be a key step forward in the evolution of cloud computing. May the best browser win!