We received a phone call today from a software vendor (we’ll call them Vendor X) who sells a new online application to enterprises. Like many modern web applications, Vendor X’s software is written for modern browsers and doesn’t work at all in IE6. Vendor X has a client who is evaluating UniBrows so they can upgrade their Windows XP PCs to IE8 to access this new application while maintaining compatibility with their legacy IE6-dependent line-of-business applications. Vendor X wanted to be sure that running the IE6 engine inside IE8, next to a tab running Vendor X’s web app, would not cause any issues. Hence the phone call.
Of course the answer is that it will work just fine. That’s because UniBrows uses process isolation to keep each tab from stepping on any other tab. So the IE6 engine can run side-by-side with the IE8 engine. Similarly, Java 1.4 (or any other version) can run side-by-side with Java 1.6, and Flash 9 can run side-by-side with Flash 10. We talked a bit about this a few posts ago when we wrote about IE6 containment and eradication.
This story is one more example of a growing trend — modern web applications have stopped supporting IE6 and that puts enterprises between a rock and a hard place. Vendor X joins the likes of Google, 37signals, and even Microsoft (SharePoint 2010) in building web software that does not function in IE6. Web developers love this as it saves them time and money when building new sites. But IT professionals tear their hair out because they are truly stuck. How do they keep their legacy IE6-dependent apps running and deploy these new web applications at the same time, in a single browser? There really is only one way – UniBrows.