Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Browser of choice

The world used to split between those who used Internet Explorer and the rest of us
Nowadays the browsers world is different and if you still insist we can split it to old fashion users (mostly on IE) and the rest of us

In my company the older users and those who fear the computer use IE6. Why IE6? Well, when I tried upgrading to IE7 we had to spend so much time adjusting both to the security features and the new menu structure that for most users going back to IE6 was the only step.
The adventurers use Firefox and they all love it. It is faster and easier to maintain. Since they are more flexible by nature they learn how to configure it with add-ons and make it even better.
Google Chrome, Opera and other browsers are not being used (I wouldn’t block them but no one ever asked for any of them)

Since all PCs come with IE any changes must go through me. I have to install it if the user want Firefox (or any other browser) or upgrade if they want IE7\8.
Whenever IE cause problems I use the opportunity to introduce Firefox to the user in question and usually they make it their new browser of choice.
Though I encourage users to move off IE (let’s face it – it is slower!) I do have one big problem: centralized browser management.
My environment uses a proxy server and with IE life is simple: Group Policy pushes all the settings and I can easily change or update parameters.
When it comes to other browsers or in my case Firefox Group Policy doesn’t work. Yes, there is an adm file out there. Been there, tried that. it is not working!
Even the basic task of pointing all Firefox browsers to the proxy server is a nightmare.
The way I handle it is creating a local fully configured Firefox on my desk and with Chris Ilias’ help I create a configuration file. Then all I have to do is distribute it to all clients (require firefox.exe to be off)
Though it is not too complicated it is a repeated tedious process that I go through with every proxy change.

Now in my shop where I control every aspect of the network it is doable but how does Mozilla (and Google, Opera & anyone else who build a browser) expect corporate to use their browsers? They should invest less in making it shiny and spend some time on adm files or other Active Directory based solutions

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