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Here comes Windows 8.1 – is your enterprise ready?

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It never gets easier for enterprise IT, does it? Everyone is just coming to grips with the migration from Windows XP to Windows 7, and the web application compatibility issues that are inherent in that platform change. One would like to think getting to Windows 7 and IE8 would be the end of the pain train. But alas, it’s just one stop along the way. As we’ve discussed before, IE8 is already an outdated browser, yet it’s also becoming the new standard in enterprise. Precisely because IE8 is outdated, enterprises must now look to migrate to IE10 on their shiny, new  Windows 7 systems. But even that’s a moving target with Windows 8.1 on the horizon.

In fact, it’s looking increasingly like Windows 8.1 will have the features and user experience to meet the requirements of enterprise – putting the concerns with Windows 8 in the rear view mirror. But Windows 8.1 has IE11 built in, so it’s the minimum browser version that can be run on that operating system. So every enterprise looking to deploy Windows 8.1, or expecting it to come in via BYOD, needs to be ready for this new browser.

Gartner recently published a report that outlines the benefits of Windows 8.1 in the enterprise, but also the potential costs of web application compatibility with IE11. Redmond Magazine wrote a detailed article about the Gartner report, including this choice quote from Gartner analyst Michael Silver:

Microsoft for years, since IE 8, has talked about the ‘compatibility modes’ built into new versions of IE to make them compatible with prior releases down to IE 7,” Silver said. “But organizations still have problems, applications still have problems, so you really can’t trust that your applications are going to work. Microsoft’s insisting on putting a new version of IE in every new OS and not allowing the old version of IE to be run is going to be probably the biggest problem for organizations that want to adopt a new OS because that’s going to require some testing and talking to your vendor and seeing if he’ll support you if you have a problem on IE 11.

Today’s web technology promises standards-based websites and web applications that can work in any modern browser. But the reality is that web technology is evolving at a very rapid pace, creating incompatibilities as new features are added and old ones are deprecated. Each subsequent version of Internet Explorer has proven to advance security and standards support, while breaking many critical business applications along the way.

That’s why Browsium Ion is such a critical tool in your enterprise IT tool belt. Ion’s usefulness doesn’t end with your migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. In addition to keeping those critical, but expensive-to-replace, IE6- and IE7-dependent web applications running, Ion will deliver ongoing value to your organization. We’re already working on a new release of Ion to support Windows 8.1 and IE11 (and IE11 for Windows 7 when it eventually comes out), so you can stay ahead of the unrelenting pace of web technology change. And there’s also Java management and security – a key scenario for Ion in the enterprise.

You need to be able to upgrade your apps on your own schedule, as business needs dictate. But you shouldn’t have to hold back from timely platform updates because of these fragile applications. Use the web applications you need on the platforms you want. We’ll make sure they all work together.

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