Is Browser Selection Really So Important – Yes

This afternoon I was reading through a post at the Mashable website where they report that Germany is instructing users in Germany to not use Internet Explorer. This topic comes up so many times and in various forms, but nothing as critical of a particular product such as this.

In my opinion, we’ll never get a solution to this issue. Browser support from mainstream and niche-market will always put IE first of the list. Enterprises are stuck with IE as a supported browser. For all of the security purists out there who retort with a response to use software in the enterprise that does not permit additional browser support, that isn’t an option either.

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This loosely reminds me of Java version situations. Enterprises get stuck with applications that require a specific version of Java or “not to exceed” a version. Browser support will be the same when non-IE browsers become the pet project to remove IE in an enterprise environment.

So, we’re stuck with IE to some extent. What do we do about it? We live with it. We present IE 6, 7 or whatever is required as a virtualized application (Citrix XenApp, for example). We train on Firefox or Chrome. I use Opera, but would have an uphill battle making the case on anything except Firefox or Chrome as a standard browser for the masses.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pow on January 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    One of the reasons I am waiting so much for Windows 7 (even though my home system is a mac)… minimum IE version 8! However, even on my mac I have Safari, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Seamonkey installed… Yay diversity!

    Reply

  2. Diversity is good, especially for web developers. Nod Nod. 🙂

    But if you have to make an decision for an enterprise, what platform are you going to select?

    Reply

  3. Posted by pow on January 17, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    For enterprise in US/Korea IE still rules the roost, but for enterprise with web developers, Firefox with Firebug is king. If an enterprise allows (grudgingly) a second browser it typically is Firefox. If enterprise was smart, Firefox + noscript is probably safest, but you’d have to train your users. I know Opera has the ability to block/unblock script on a site by site basis, but I haven’t taken the time to learn how. I just have the global checkbox “enable javascript” available on my Opera UI for that right now.

    In Europe, Firefox is an even easier sell, especially countries like Poland who have over 50% Firefox usage according to gs.statcounter.com (not the final word in stats, but definitely a good sampling). There is only one country where I have seen Opera with a lot of users, Russia. However, things change when you talk mobile, mobile opera is the most used browser currently, followed by mobile safari – also according to statcounter.

    Honestly if I had an enterprise I would go with the philosophy that a heterogenous set of browsers makes it HARDER to hack, so I would have my employees picked at least TWO from the approved list (any ones with automatic updates – Chrome, Firefox*, Opera, Safari, IE but IE 8+ on Win7+ only). Then if there is a bulletin of a security issue they would have to use their backup browser. I also think teaching people to browse without scripting (only allowing trusted sites to script/run flash) would be an enormous improvement in security.

    So in conclusion, if I am forced to pick one, currently it would be Firefox. If I am allowed full control, multiple browsers from a list of browsers with automatic updates and script blocking. Having a backup browser when your main one has a security hole is just the right thing to do…

    *including derivatives

    Reply

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