Customer response to Browsium Ion has been overwhelmingly positive. Since our launch in January, we’ve been working with enterprise organizations from around the world to help them overcome the web application compatibility problems that have blocked their Windows 7 upgrades. We’ve also been working behind the scenes to improve Ion and address key deployment blockers reported by customers since the launch.
Browsium Ion 2.0 Update 1, a maintenance release to address these deployment blockers, is available today. Update 1 is a full release of both the Ion Configuration Manager and Ion Client Add-on and everyone is encouraged to upgrade their test and production systems. Installation is seamless and quick, with no need to uninstall the previous version before installing Update 1. In addition, all existing Ion project files will continue to work as is.
Improvements in Browsium Ion 2.0 Update 1 include:
You should have received an email this week directing you to your custom Ion 2.0 Update 1 download link if you’ve ever requested an evaluation kit from Browsium. (Check your inbox and spam filter if you missed it — email us if you still can’t find it.)
If you’re new to Ion and would like to learn more about the process we use for remediation, please check out our JumpStart Program web page.
Do you remember the Microsoft security crisis of 2002-2004? I certainly do. I was an engineer on the Windows & Internet Explorer team at the time. It seemed like every day on my drive into work, I’d hear a new story on the radio about how some flaw in the IE or Windows was being exploited. A key component of Microsoft’s engineering response to the crisis was to deliver Windows XP Service Pack 2, commonly called “XPSP2”, which we shipped in August 2004 and was designed to tighten considerably the security of Microsoft’s flagship product.
During the development of XPSP2, as we came up with new ways to protect our users from hackers, we realized some of our security features would undoubtedly have an impact on web-based application compatibility. The last thing we wanted was for legitimate line of business applications to suffer due to some new security restriction, but the pressure Microsoft was facing from customers, press and governments around the world to deliver a more secure version of Windows (and the browser it included) dictated making some hard choices. Ultimately we shipped the product with a way for customers to opt out of new security features for the sake of compatibility. The security features were turned on by default but through a registry key, customers who needed to could toggle the new secure behavior off. These toggles are called FEATURE CONTROL KEYS, or FCKs for short.
The way Microsoft implemented them, FCKs are global to the IE browser: when you turn one of them on or off, you turn that feature on or off for the browser no matter where the user is browsing. Unfortunately, this means you have to compromise: your old application might now run in the newer browser, but that useful security feature is now OFF even when the user is browsing the Internet.
This is where Ion comes in: we’ve added an explicit way that you can toggle all of Microsoft’s official FCKs on and off, but do so on a per-profile basis. That is to say, you can turn off those features just for your line of business web application and keep it on everywhere else. Once again, Ion provides the best of both worlds: compatibility and security!
There are a surprising number of FCKs available to you: over 50 through IE9 (Microsoft has not yet made any public announcements about what new FCKs may be added in IE10). All of these are available through Ion’s Configuration Manager (via the Feature Control Feature). Here’s a screenshot showing a partial list of all the FCK’s we allow you to manage through Ion:
FCKs are a useful way for your enterprise to achieve compatibility – and with Ion, they’re also a great way to maintain the security you want for your network.
Finally, FCKs aren’t the only way you can alter IE’s feature set and security profile: there are a variety of other registry settings you can modify to change the way IE works, and Ion exposes those to you too. But more on that in a future blog post.
Thanks for reading,
Ion includes many ways that you can ‘fix up’ bad, broken or obsolete web content without directly touching the web server. In the past I’ve blogged or posted videos about 3 of our tools: Script Injection, String Replacement and most recently Content Override.
The question is, which to use when? Here’s a quick way to see which is the best solution for a given problem:
|Feature||Best when…||Notes and limitations|
|String Replacement||…you only need to make a few small, targeted changes to a page||Can replace content from any loaded resource: CSS, HTML and even script (like VBScript). Useful when changing existing or adding new content, not great at removing large amounts of existing content|
|Content Override||…you want to make wholesale content changes, or when you want to remove a large amount of content||Replaces entire pages only, cannot easily strike single lines of code|
Hopefully that helps clear up when each of these features is best applied. As always, keep your eye on our support site for new information, examples and documentation.
Hi, it’s Christopher again. It’s been a while since my last “Let’s get technical” blog post, but now that Ion has been released there are several new features worth talking about.
The first cool new thing in Ion that I want to cover is the Content Override functionality that’s provided by Ion. This powerful feature allows you to instruct Ion clients to load a completely different web resource than a website normally would load. This is useful when the original resource in question is old, buggy, slow or otherwise antiquated and needs updating. The best part of this feature is that this is all done without touching the original web server, which is useful in cases where you don’t have permissions or the license to change the original code!
Take an example: your web application, as part of its normal operation, normally has clients load the page http://www.example.com/test.html. Let’s say, however, that this page is no longer necessary for some reason, or maybe it’s always been buggy and you’d just like to avoid having to load the content at all.
This is where you’d leverage this feature: you can optionally instruct the Ion client to take one of several steps when it attempts to load the page you don’t want or need loaded:
This is all done without touching the original web server itself. How it works is simple: the Ion software “fixes up” any web pages with your overrides prior to letting the legacy IE engine render the content to the screen. This means that any other client that touches the web server (any other browser, or any non-Ion IE browser) will still get the original unmodified content. Now when you want to make a change, you can do so without incurring those hefty testing costs as well! (You may still be tempted to check that other browsers aren’t affected, but all you have to check is that they’re still getting the original, unmodified code).
This feature is one of the many ways that we’ve made Ion a great tool for achieving compatibility with your old web applications with modern platforms like Windows 7, IE8 and IE9!
I’ve also created a Knowledge Base article that goes through the process step-by-step in case you want to try it out yourself. This and KB articles for Ion’s other great features are all up at our support site.
Until next time!
One of our goals for Ion was to improve the amount and type of help and support documentation that was available for customers and partners throughout the life of the product. Ion’s Configuration Manager pulls help content from the web, not from static help files. This means we can continually improve the breadth and depth of the help content we deliver to anyone who is using or evaluating our product.
We recently improved our Knowledge Base articles, and now we’ve updated the online help for the Configuration Manager for those of you who are rolling up your sleeves at work to make Ion work for you.
We’ve added more examples, including links to articles and videos, throughout the online help content for the Configuration Manager. Here are the list of help topics we’ve updated, and rest assured that we are planning to make more improvements to more articles over the coming weeks as well.
If you have any topics you’d like us to delve deeper on than we have already, just leave a comment for us and we’ll take a look!
For those of you who are eager to evaluate Ion within your enterprise, we’ve made it easy to see how to use and configure Ion.
If you just want to see how Ion works and what it does, watch our Introduction to Ion demo video. This demo will show you the basics of Ion rules, profiles and settings as well as show you IE9 running two different versions of Java side-by-side through Ion. If you’re interested in trying this yourself, you can follow along with our step-by-step documents, Writing Your First Rule with Ion and Managing Multiple Versions of Java with Ion.
We’ll post more about cool new features in Ion in upcoming weeks.
With our release of Ion earlier this week, we have taken great steps to help enterprises migrate away from Windows XP and IE6 and to the world of Windows 7 and modern versions of IE.
Our first product, UniBrows, was released in early 2011 and we spent most of last year listening and learning as our customers evaluated UniBrows within their environments. UniBrows was unique in that it embedded the IE6 layout engine in IE8 or IE9 on Windows 7 desktops and enabled client PCs to render content using that layout engine. Initially, we felt that providing the IE6 engine was the best and fastest route to application compatibility within the enterprise.
Thus was born Ion, our second generation solution. It builds upon the concepts and technology we first shipped in UniBrows, but does so entirely without the IE6 engine. Ion utilizes the variety of modern and legacy rendering engines already built into IE8 and IE9 to provide great IE6 compatibility. Through Ion, you can fix pages on the fly (though String Replacement & Script Insertion), tune security features (like DEP/NX), create custom registry settings to securely enable old behaviors (through Feature Control Keys and the Custom Registry Manager), all while isolating these changes to a specific site or even a page on a site. We’ve added more features, levers, and options to tune the behavior with IE than ever before. In fact, despite the complete lack of IE6 in Ion, we’ve found that Ion is compatible with more IE6-dependent web applications than UniBrows ever was. In addition, we re-architected the product to be more robust, faster, and easier to use.
The benefits of leaving the IE6 engine behind are seen most simply in the product’s footprint: it’s a mere 6MB of space on your client PC hard disk with one simple installer. And yet Ion allows true enterprise-class applications like Siebel, Hyperion, Brio, and Clarify to run inside IE9 on Windows 7 (something UniBrows couldn’t do). But it’s not just the big applications that work with Ion – we’ve seen our share of custom, home-grown applications working with Ion too. There’s a myth that legacy web applications “require” IE6 to work properly, and Ion is proof that it’s not true. These applications require the proper settings in IE8 or IE9, and maybe a few tweaks with script injections and string replacements, and Ion is the only tool powerful enough to provide those configurations.
If you’re familiar with UniBrows but would like to learn more about how Ion works, we’ve written a whitepaper called “What’s New in Browsium Ion” to help familiarize people like you with the differences and similarities between Ion and UniBrows. Use this document alongside an Ion Evaluation Kit to get more productive in your Ion evaluation today.