A recent meeting to discuss the requirements for a new browser had a surprising outcome. There are some key applications that require Internet Explorer Version 6 and the compatibility modes in IEv7 and IEv8 don’t work. This has meant that the entire company has been stuck with IE6 for the last five years.
Recently, a number of important business sites have stopped supporting IE6. You might think this is a good thing, however, we have one set of users demanding IE6 to access their application, and another set demanding a modern browser for other applications. We can’t install IE7 or IE8 because they can’t co-exist with IE6. Once the upgrade is done, then we lose access the critical application (yes, even with the backward compatibility, the legacy applications are a problem).
It struck me that we were not looking at the problem correctly. Why not think of IE6 as an application. That is, IE6 is the “client” for the legacy applications, and then install Firefox for all other web access. Have both browsers installed on the machines and let the users choose the correct one.
After a bit of stunned silence, we knew that this could work. We didn’t have to convince management that we were replacing “Internet Explorer”, we are adding a new browser that solves our problems and Firefox is the obvious choice. No support problems, people who wanted to use IE6 could continue to do so. Firefox would be gradually adopted over time, so their would be no negaitve impact on the users. We expect the transition to Firefox would also be gradual as people passed the word onto other users.
It’s one of the those times when you slap yourself on the head and say “why didn’t we think of it earlier?”.
The look on the faces of the Microsoft Admins was priceless, of course. Skewered on the fact of Microsoft’s proprietary “open” technology. They couldn’t say no to using Firefox.