IE6 Containment = IE6 Eradication

Posted by: Browsium Posted date:

We’re often asked a very simple question: “Doesn’t UniBrows promote continued use of IE6 rather than help companies eradicate it?” Very much to the contrary, we believe UniBrows helps organizations reduce reliance on IE6 more quickly, cleanly, and optimally than any of the alternatives.

How do we make this happen? The answer is at the core of how UniBrows delivers Web Application Continuity by taking an approach that centers on containment of legacy browser components. By this we mean that UniBrows restricts IE6 usage (and exposure) to only the line-of-business applications designated by IT that require the native IE6 engine so that they may function properly. All other sites, whether they are located on an intranet or the Internet, are accessed using the most modern browser engine available from Microsoft – IE8 on Windows XP and IE8 or IE9 on Windows 7.

UniBrows not only reduces the IE6 attack surface by enabling organizations to carefully control the legacy engine’s exposure. As an added bonus, our technology helps drive IE6 usage on the web to zero by providing organizations with the tools needed to manage their browser and web application upgrades more smoothly than other solutions. Nothing helps Microsoft’s IE6 Countdown initiative succeed faster than UniBrows.

Most organizations we speak with need the IE6 engine and legacy add-ons for only a handful of applications – but they are mission critical. It’s this ‘vocal minority’ holding back the company, making them unable to move their browser platform forward and putting the company at unnecessary risk every day. In addition, running IE6 as the primary browser severely limits the ability to innovate or adopt the latest technologies so many companies are forced to continue building on top of the IE6 platform – which just serves to extend its life even further into the future. By comparison, companies running UniBrows for their legacy applications are able to deploy a standards-based, modern browser platform now, while leaving IE6 locked away in the closet.

But there are other ways to limit use of IE6. How do these other approaches stack up to UniBrows? Let’s take a quick look at each:

  • Rewriting IE6-dependent applications — Until every application in the organization has been rewritten, IE6 remains the default browser for end users. Given that each application can cost millions of dollars to rewrite and many organizations have dozens that depend on IE6, rewriting applications will not eradicate IE6 anytime soon. If rewriting was the best answer, we wouldn’t even be talking about IE6 in 2011. It would have been dead and buried years ago when Microsoft moved to a web standards browser strategy. (Eventually these applications must be rewritten or replaced, but no one wants to wait until that long, expensive process has been completed by all organizations before eradicating IE6.)
  • Virtualizing Windows via MED-V or 3rd party alternative — This one’s easy. Virtualizing Windows to run IE6 means that end users are using IE6, possibly for all web browsing. While the desire may be for them to only use it for specific applications, the reality is that it’s almost impossible to train users to do just this and the technology to manage this automatically is just not practical. End users wind up browsing the web with IE6 and the IE6 Countdown initiative stalls.
  • Virtualizing IE6 via application virtualization — Microsoft’s legal stance on this solution aside, end users are again running IE6 in its entirety in this scenario and will continue to browse the web with it.

We know many web developers would love to go back in time and kill IE6 before it ever shipped. As far as we know Doc Brown’s flux capacitor didn’t really ship in 1985 and Skynet’s Terminator T1000 is still in early beta testing.  So rewriting browser history, while fun to discuss at tweet-ups, does not seem to be a viable option.

Returning to the premise of this post, it appears there really is only one way to eradicate IE6 from the web today. Contain it … with UniBrows.

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