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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…