Google Chrome Frame is an interesting Internet Explorer plugin that leverages the Google Chrome rendering engine into IE. As a result, this lets you run IE as your default browser for compatibility reasons, but any Chrome Frame-aware pages will be displayed using the Chrome engine, delivering enhanced standards support and much better performance.

It's a clever idea, but unfortunately there's a catch. Web developers must modify their pages to support Google Chrome Frame, and while there's very little work involved, most are unlikely to bother unless it becomes popular. But Chrome Frame is unlikely to become popular unless more sites support it: a classic chicken and egg scenario.

Still, there is a way to force IE to use Chrome for a particular page. First you must enable this feature, by launching REGEDIT, browsing to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Google\ChromeFrame (create the ChromeFrame key if it doesn't exist), creating a new DWORD value called EnableGCFProtocol and setting it to 1.

And then simply launch your URL using a gcf: prefix, like gcf: (you must include both gcf: and http://) to see the page rendered using Chrome.

The differences can be spectacular, especially on pages that make heavy use of JavaScript. We tried out the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, for instance, and scored a sluggish 5,410ms using IE8, which dropped to a speedy 426ms when we accessed the benchmark using Chrome Frame.

And if you're a web developer who would like to enable Chrome Frame on your own site, then check the support site for advice on getting started, and try Chrome Frame on your own pages just to see what a difference it could make.


A clever idea, but currently only of academic interest as most sites don't support it