Browsium Ion is an innovative new product that removes a key impediment to enterprise operating system upgrades by enabling millions of legacy IE-dependent line-of-business web applications to run in modern versions of Internet Explorer. Ion is not virtualization, does not run a separate instance of IE, and does not change the default browser or normal browsing behavior. It is simply a granular management tool for Internet Explorer that provides the control to enable legacy applications to run properly in a modern browser without security or compatibility tradeoffs. With Ion, there is no longer a need for organizations to spend millions of dollars to rewrite web applications or to install expensive and complex virtualization solutions before upgrading OS and browser platforms. Instead, they can spend their valuable IT resources upgrading desktops, deploying new solutions, and running their core business. With Ion, organizations can upgrade their OS and browser platforms organization-wide immediately and then rewrite or replace legacy applications on an independent schedule.
When IT administrators deploy the Ion add-on to all PCs that need some legacy compatibility, set of opt-in profiles and rules are created that control which sites (usually intranet sites) need to be rendered using legacy rendering modes and specific browser settings for backward compatibility. The profiles and rules are deployed via Group Policy or an XML file. Sites that are not explicitly designated in the Ion configuration run in the native, unmanaged IE window. End users have no control over, or knowledge of, the Ion configuration. They simply access Internet and intranet sites as they normally would (links, favorites, searches, typed addresses) and Ion ensures that the page loads with the appropriate rendering mode and settings to ensure the application functions properly.
Browsium Ion has been designed to be lightweight. In general, if your system can run Windows, it can run Ion. The specific requirements are:
|Operating System||Windows XP SP2 or later (32-bit only)
Windows 7 (32- and 64-bit systems are supported)
Windows Server 2008 or later (32- and 64-bit; 64-bit only for “R2″)
|Browsers||Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 9
Internet Explorer 10
|.NET Framework||Version 2.0 Service Pack 2 or later|
|Processor||1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor|
|Memory||1 gigabyte (GB) RAM for desktop PCs
2 gigabytes (GB) RAM for servers running Terminal Services
Yes, Ion works on both Windows XP and Windows 7. It enables end users to use IE8 on Windows XP as their default browser but render specific websites (determined by IT administrators) using legacy rendering modes for backward compatibility.
Ion does not support Windows 8.1 with IE11 or IE11 on Windows 7 today, but we plan to support them very soon. Many of the changes in Ion were put in place to enable support for the advanced functionality and security of Microsoft’s latest OS and browser platform. We just have a bit more work to wrap up before release a version of Ion for Windows 8.1 and IE11.
No, Ion starts support at IE8 on Windows XP and also supports IE8, IE9, and IE10 on Windows 7. Ion can help today if your web applications render properly using Compatibility View feature but require specific browser settings, Java plugins, or ActiveX controls. Ion includes two IE7 Profiles (called “Emulate IE7″ and “IE7 Standards”). Using those Profiles you can get the required rendering behavior combined with the ActiveX controls and browser settings you want – without compromising your default IE configuration.
If you’re an IT professional managing a large-scale Windows migration for your organization, you and your team are experts in the things that matter the most to your success. These include PC hardware, Windows image configuration and deployment, user state migration, application packaging, and software distribution systems. Odds are that remediating web applications is not core to your daily job. And remediating them with Browsium Ion is yet another challenge as Ion is a very powerful, yet also very complex, tool.
So the short answer is that yes, you can use Ion yourself and some customers have had great success using it. But for most customers, hiring a professional who understands both the science and the art of using Ion to remediate large scale web applications is a far better choice. This will save you both time and money, while accelerating your browser and operating system migration project – which is what you’re paid to deliver in the end anyhow. The Browsium JumpStart Program is a turnkey solution, delivered by Browsium consultants or our Certified Partners, enabling a single IE6- or IE7-dependent application (of your choosing) to run on IE8, IE9 or IE10, from initial discovery of application defects through complete remediation and production deployment of Browsium Ion to the end users of that application. Please read about the JumpStart Program, and then let’s talk.
Profiles are groups of settings and configuration options tied to a particular browser engine. Profiles enable you to set specific registry values or define custom ActiveX settings to ensure a web application runs properly if it requires specific versions or settings. For example, Profiles enable you to have the granular control to set the 1.05 version of the JVM for a single page, while the rest of that web application uses JVM version 1.3, etc.
Using Profiles, you can isolate the settings required for one application to run from all your other applications, meaning that for one application or web page you can invoke a legacy IE engine, an old version of Java, and custom security settings, but for everything else, the default software (IE8 or IE9, the latest version of Java, etc.) will be used.
Ion is a 3rd party product created and sold by Browsium and Microsoft is not responsible for supporting any 3rd party products. However Microsoft is responsible for supporting Windows and IE (per Microsoft’s support lifecycle policy) and will continue to do so after any 3rd party product is installed, including Ion. Ion does not modify the core Windows system or configurations and like other 3rd party add-ons for IE, Ion can be easily disabled if directed by Microsoft support in order to investigate issues with the natively installed IE version. Browsium is responsible for supporting the Ion product. If Ion is not working at parity with a standalone legacy installation of Internet Explorer, Browsium will make commercially reasonable efforts to modify the Ion software or provide guidance for the customer to resolve the issue.
No, Ion complies fully with this Microsoft policy. Ion does not install or run a separate instance or version of Internet Explorer, and doesn’t repackage executable components of Internet Explorer. Instead, it provides granular management of the rendering engines and settings built into IE8, IE9 and IE10, thus enabling configurations that allow legacy applications to run unmodified in modern versions of Internet Explorer. Running Ion inside of IE8, IE9, or IE10 is very similar to Internet Explorer’s own Compatibility View which invokes a legacy rendering engine inside of the Internet Explorer application. Ion does this with even more granular control so that each browser tab can use the built-in rendering engine and settings required for a specific web application. Tabs not managed by Ion use the modern and secure default engines and settings provided by Internet Explorer.
Absolutely. That’s why Ion is such a smart solution to the problem. Ion allows IT administrators to upgrade all of their desktops to modern versions of Internet Explorer (IE8 on Windows XP and IE8, IE9, or IE10 on Windows 7) and define which intranet websites will render using one of Internet Explorer’s built in legacy rendering modes and custom settings required to properly run the application. All other sites use default modern rendering mode and the default settings. With Ion, enterprises can say goodbye to legacy Internet Explorer immediately, while still continuing to use their business-critical applications that were built for, and only work with, much older versions of Internet Explorer.
Ion achieves high degrees of compatibility with legacy web applications via a combination of granular control over the rendering modes built into modern versions of Internet Explorer, along with the ability to modify browser and security settings application by application. Browsium’s patented technology makes this all possible.
Browsium Ion has been carefully built using only supported and documented APIs and features provided by Microsoft. Patented technology in Ion enables the software to deliver granular control over Internet Explorer rendering modes and settings while remaining in compliance with Microsoft development guidelines and without modifying any Windows system components. Therefore Ion will not be affected by routine Internet Explorer security patches. When Microsoft releases patches for Internet Explorer, you can update your client PCs with the security updates on your normal schedule.
Typically Microsoft will only modify supported and documented APIs in major new releases of the browser, as changes of this magnitude can affect many Internet Explorer add-ons (toolbars, browser helper objects, ActiveX Controls). Browsium always evaluates every new Internet Explorer release to determine if Ion must be modified to be compatible. If we determine that an update is needed, we strive to release the new version of Ion soon after the new browser release.
Profiles are created using the Configuration Manager. Simply create a Project then choose “Add Profile” from the action pane on the right side of the manager. Choose the IE rendering mode you need and then name your new Profile. That’s all it takes. From there you have the option to make custom file, registry and ActiveX settings and more for the Profile if your web applications require that level of system configuration.
All Ion rules are managed through the Configuration Manager. Making a rule is very simple – just select your options from the dropdown lists, enter the URL, domain name or pattern to be matched and select which Profile should be used to render that rule. You’ll also need to give the rule a unique name. More information about Ion rules are provided in the Ion Administration Guide.
Quirks Mode can solve issues for many websites. Unfortunately, there are two issues with Internet Explorer which prevent Quirks mode from being effective:
The Adaptive Quirks Mode solves both of these problems by providing an intelligent, adaptive Quirks mode that analyzes the code on a webpage and makes a decision at runtime when and how Quirks Mode should be invoked for a specific page or pages. More information can be found in the Adaptive Quirks blog post.
No, Ion has been designed as a per-user application. We worked hard to make sure Ion is very lightweight, easily deployed and requires no special configurations to run. Ion will work the same if the user has local admin rights or on locked down machine configurations.
Ion can be deployed using any infrastructure technology you are using today. We don’t make any assumptions about or put requirements on your infrastructure in order to deploy Ion. The user mode package is created as an MSI, so you can choose to distribute it as is or you can extract out the pieces and rebuild it for your preferences or needs. If you prefer not to use an MSI installer, you can unpack the Ion files in a single directory and run it right from there, even a thumb drive! Ion doesn’t require a restart or replace or update any system resources so the deployment options are really up to you.
When deploying Browsium Ion in the enterprise, planning and proper execution are critical to ensure a successful outcome. There are three components which must be considered when approaching a deployment. These are: (1) upgrading Internet Explorer itself, (2) the Ion Client software installation and (3) deploying the Ion configuration. Administrator rights are required to install the Internet Explorer upgrade as well as the Ion Client software. The first thing to consider is how software is currently deployed in your enterprise. Ion was designed with enterprise deployment in mind, and should work seamlessly within your current software deployment and management processes. How you deploy software today should dictate how the Ion solution will be deployed – not the other way around. The Ion configuration can be deployed as a flat file using any software distribution system, or you can export the configuration to an ADM or ADMX template for Group Policy deployment. The Ion Configuration Manager presents both of these options when building the configuration.
No. Whether IE is your default browser in your organization or not, Ion does not affect your default browser choice. By design, Ion is meant to be used to provide a compatibility experience and should be used when needed rather than as a default setting. Ion itself is not a browser but a management layer that works with the existing IE browser; if IE8, IE9 or IE10 is the default on your system, it can remain so with Ion installed.
Absolutely. The Configuration Manager is installed as part of the admin mode installation, and is simply an interface to edit and configure Ion settings. Administration isn’t done centrally by design – Ion doesn’t have any infrastructure or server components – so the ownership can be shared by members of team, or even as broad as teams around the entire company. Using the Configuration Manager an application owner can manage the rules and configurations for their own application, and exported rules are merged with other Ion rules when imported to the Group Policy environment. For flat file distribution systems the files are merged on the target system instead.
None. Ion was designed to run as a per-user application so it can actually be run without being installed on the system if needed. No system configurations are changed or values modified, and Ion can be fully uninstalled at any time.
The Ion Configuration Manager was designed to be used individually by application owners, IT administrators, and remediation consultants working on a given application. The Ion Configuration Manager can be installed on multiple PCs if there are IT administrators, developers or even Help Desk resources that have been trained to use the software to troubleshoot and remediate applications, or if multiple developers/consultants are engaged in remediation of an application. The caveat to multiple resources working on the same application is that they need to be working in concert and communicating constantly about what they are working on and what is the appropriate solution for a particular application defect. For each end user PC, there can only be one configuration. This configuration can remediate multiple applications. The Ion license does not limit the number of Administrator workstations that the Configuration Manager can be installed on. It is not recommended that end users gain access to the Configuration Manger; only specified people in your organization should be authorized to build and modify configurations you create or you could end up with incorrect configurations causing application failures, crashes or even potentially exposing users to security threats.
Ion is designed using software isolation, so we are able to provide the rendering experience as needed without replacing system components. When a user enters a URL, Ion evaluates the request against the rules list and determines if the resource requires Ion rendering. If yes, the URL is passed to an Ion-managed instance of Internet Explorer. If no, the URL is passed off to the unmanaged instance Internet Explorer using the IE defaults on the PC.
Google’s Chrome Frame plug-in is an add-on for Internet Explorer that can be used to run web sites with the Chrome browser engine. It was designed so that customers running older versions of Internet Explorer (like IE6) can get the latest features from Google services like Gmail and Search. It does not improve or change IE’s compatibility with older web applications, nor does it offer any enterprise-level management features. In addition, in order to enable the Chrome engine to render a web site, the web site itself must be updated to instruct the Chrome Frame plug-in to run. Browsium Ion allows users of newer versions of Internet Explorer (IE8, IE9 or IE10) to get IE6 and IE7 compatibility when required in an easy-to-manage way and without requiring any change to the underlying web site.
More questions? Search the Ion Knowledge Base.