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Microsoft: There Can Be Only One … Browser

Microsoft: There Can Be Only One … Browser

Forrester claims that businesses should rally around a single web browser to save money

Microsoft is touting the findings of a Forrester study which claims that 96 percent of businesses standardize on a single web browser to save costs related to support. Guess which browser they’d like that to be?

“Forrester evaluated several items that IT managers consider when deciding on a browser and the findings confirm that Internet Explorer continues to be a great browser for your business,” a Microsoft representative told me. “Among the results, Forrester found that 96 percent of firms today standardize on a single browser for company-issued PC and that there are increased costs associated with supporting or allowing other browsers within the enterprise.”

You can find out more about this report and Microsoft’s reaction to it in Ten Reasons Why Internet Explorer 10 is Best for Business on the Exploring IE Blog, and the full Forrester report is available for download as well.

According to Microsoft, “there are increased costs associated with supporting or allowing nonstandard browsers within the enterprise. For example, Forrester found that firms spend an extra $4,200 per web app annually to support multiple browsers. For a large corporation, that translates to almost $400,000 per year just for web apps. Any potential benefits were clearly outweighed by support, maintenance, and other costs - as most firms with multiple browsers experienced cost increases in excess of 20% overall. This is in line with conventional wisdom, which says to pick one browser but develop sites to common web standards.”

It then goes on to explain why it believes IE 10 should be that browser. But that assumes you’re running Windows 8 or, soon, Windows 7. (IE 10 for Windows 7 is currently in beta.)

But I’m most curious about that 96 percent claim, as that’s not what I’m seeing out in the real world. My understanding is that multiple browsers are in fact quite common on business PCs. In October, I spoke with the folks from Browsium who told me that while IE was still dominant in the enterprise, a second browser is “increasingly common”. And many of IE’s competitors have pretty significant share even in enterprises.

Part of the reason for this, ironically, is Microsoft’s fault: With many businesses still locked on Windows XP (which can only upgrade to IE 8, though many actually stick with the horrible and out of date IE 6), many users are turning to Google Chrome in order to get a modern browser that actually works. Not coincidentally, Browsium is currently offering a beta version of a multi-browser management tool for businesses called Catalyst that automates which browsers are used for which sites.

In fact, the most recently Browsium blog post notes that the multi-browser enterprise is here to stay. That’s certainly what I’m seeing.

Internet Explorer 10 is great, and I use it all the time. But I also use Chrome. And I believe this type of multi-browser usage is the case in many businesses as well.

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