Microsoft-bankrolled report argues for single-browser enterprises

'Unrealistic,' counters company that crafts browser management tools; 'hollow victory,' adds analyst

By , Computerworld |  Software, Microsoft, web browsers

But what neither Forrester or Capriotti mentioned, said an analyst, was the BYOD, or "bring your own device," trend that's making company-controlled desktops and notebooks, and thus their browsers, less important as employee tools.

"It is accurate that most businesses stick to or certainly prefer to stick to one browser in terms of what they actually distribute or what their internal development teams focus on to limit their test matrix," acknowledged Al Hilwa of IDC, a research firm rival of Forrester. "However, the BYOD trend is making inroads [and] companies' control of the desktop may end up being a hollow victory in the long run as users bring in diverse devices with different browsers."

If a company supports worker-owned devices -- smartphones and tablets in particular -- it must also support those devices' native browsers. And in few cases are those IE. Apple's iOS, for example, standardizes on Safari, while Google's Android now relies on Chrome.

Hilwa praised IE -- in particular Microsoft's contentious decision to turn on the "Do Not Track" privacy feature in IE10 -- but cautioned that the days of standardized browsers are waning.

"The issue is that IE is focused on one platform [Windows] and as companies diversify their device holdings, corporate-owned or BYOD, IE is really challenged to be that one browser they select," Hilwa said in an email.

Others disagreed with Microsoft's conclusion that businesses should stick to one browser.

"They're saying 'Don't have a multi-browser enterprise,' but really, the multi-browser enterprise is inevitable," said Gary Schare, president of Browsium, a Redmond, Wash. firm founded by several former Microsoft employees. Schare, for example, worked at Microsoft for 14 years in product management, and for four of those led the IE7 team.

"Microsoft's position of a homogeneous browser environment is just unrealistic," Schare said, ticking off factors from BYOD to workers wanting to run the same browser at work that they do at home.

Browsium has developed a pair of products to handle multi-browser business environments: Ion, formerly Unibrows, that lets companies run aged Web apps and intranets written for older versions of IE, say, IE6, in newer editions such as IE9.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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