First, I just wanted to thank Wendy, Nicola, Manish and Jay for their comments on this post in which I ranted something about browsers and wanting to know if anyone had any data to back up the standardization on IE as a browser. Let me also say that I'm not really arguing with any of the points the folks commenting have made - just trying to point out a bit of the absurdity in the situtaion. I mean really folks, we are talking about the single most foundational and fundamental piece of technology that we use on a daily basis. Am I wrong in assigning this degree of supremacy to the browser?
Wendy, Nicola and Manish all brought up the current Catch-22 issue of having systems that will only run on IE and that that situation is a considerable roadblock. True enough and spot on. I'll go back to my original question though, is anyone doing any ROI to see what the opportunity cost is here in NOT switching to say Firefox. Here is a great story to make this point. According to the story in PC World, MSFT has warned that people who install "Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) that they won't be able to uninstall either the service pack or Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) under some circumstances."
Not horrific enough for you? How about this for everyone who is using Vista:
"Windows Vista users, however, will not see IE8 Beta 2 in Windows Update because update apparently cannot sniff out instances of IE8 Beta 1 and uninstall them automatically. Instead, users must remove Beta 1 manually, said Maliouta. Several additional updates are required before installing IE8 Beta 2 on Vista, including one that, if omitted, blocks its installation entirely. That fix, a revised version of a Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) prerequisite that earlier this year sent machines into an endless series of reboots, is also necessary for IE8 Beta 2; users with SP1 will, of course, already have it in place, but those running pre-SP1 versions of Vista must still install it."
That's awesome. Someone do the burn rate for an IT department to do this work. Seriously.
Nicola does bring up the issue of having greater choice for users and I am all for that but I also understand that my IT department won't support two desktop search options much less two browsers.So we're back to my original question - in an environment in which ROI occupies a darn near holy spot in the hearts of the C Suite - why is no one asking these fundamentally financial questions - which is cheaper to support? Keep in mind, I'm not arguing that the decision is already made - I just want someone to show me the data. Speed, security, usability, user satisfaction, maintainability - where is the Mac vs PC comparison?
Manish makes three points that essentially (and Manish correct me if I am wrong here) roll up into - we're lazy and computers already come with IE. Granted on both counts; but isn't that where someone in IT has to step up to the plate with a mandate from up the chain and say that based on this data and that data, we've determined that it is cheaper and a better experience (notice which one I put first) to convert systems to run on multiple browsers, including Firefox and we're going to support that.
Manish also makes the excellent point that browsers are just not a tool that we pay much attention to. Reminds of the "We don't know who invented water but it wasn't fish" quote - isn't it amazing that so many pay so little to this critical tool. He also points out rightly so, that Ubiquity has no clear biz case yet...but I did want to point to a recent post by BJ Schone who make an early case for Ubiquity as a learning tool.
I guess my real point is that the discussions that I have seen online are not nearly as conclusive as to warrant the current market share that IE enjoys especially in the corporate sphere. To me that says that there are irrational decision-making processes at work (quelle surprise!) and I either want people to admit that (and by people I mean the IT department) or I want to see the data they used to make the selection.