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Internet Explorer only? IE doubt it

Jon Gold | Feb. 14, 2013
Just as Internet users in general have defected in huge numbers from Microsoft Internet Explorer over the past several years, the business world, as well, is becoming less dependent on the venerable browser.

"Internet Explorer is more than a browser, it is the foundation for Internet functionality in Windows," he adds.

The complexity of managing an ecosystem with more than 100 types of software - running the gamut from productivity applications to clinical programs - requires a heavily controlled approach, according to Parsan.

Smith agrees that IE still has its advantages for business users that want just such a strictly regimented technology infrastructure.

"If you want a managed, traditional IT environment ... really, your only option is Internet Explorer," he says, adding that both Firefox and Chrome lag behind IE in terms of effective centralized management tools.

Some companies, however, have gone a different way - standardizing not on IE, but on a competing browser.

Elliot Talley, senior director of enterprise apps for electronics manufacturer Sanmina, says his company's employees are highly dependent on browsers for business-critical activities. Everything from ERP to document control (which he notes is "big for a manufacturing company") to the supply chain is run from a web app.

Talley says Sanmina made the move to standardize on Chrome in 2009, in part because of a simultaneous switch to Gmail and Google Apps from IE and Microsoft products.

"It made sense to go with the browser created and supported by the company that created the apps we rely on. Also, Chrome installs in user space so it doesn't require admin privileges to auto-update," he says. "It also silently auto-updates, as opposed to Firefox, which requires a fresh install to update versions, or IE, which is similar. Chrome, over the last year or so, has supported web standards better than any other browser, and (until recently) has offered significantly better performance."

Plainly, broad diversity exists both in the actual browsers used by workers and the approaches businesses have taken in managing their use.

That diversity, says Smith, is the reason Gartner has been advising clients against standardization from the outset.

"Standardize on standards, not browsers," he urges. "That was a controversial position for 10 years. People really didn't agree with it, they didn't listen to it, and they paid the price."

Microsoft, as well, has had to pay a price.

"[Standardization] hurts Microsoft's reputation as an innovator; as a forward-thinker," he says. "When people's impression of using Microsoft technology - whether it's a browser, whether it's an operating system - is something that is two or three versions old, because they're dealing with it through what enterprises want."

 

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