Windows 7 upgrades stalled by IE6 holdouts

Microsoft wants its customers to upgrade to Windows 7, and most IT managers say they plan to do so.

Does Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 finally kill IE6?

But in reality what the movement will not be so easy. A difficult problem is to ensure the application support as they move from an old copy of Windows to the new version – and this includes many applications that run only in the archaic, unreliable Internet Explorer 6.

Believe it or not, Internet Explorer 6 is still more widely used than Internet Explorer 7 and the latest version of Google Chrome, according to Net Applications.

IE8 is the version most widely used browser, and Microsoft is to attract customers to migrate to Windows 7, in part, by denying IE9 users of Windows XP.

However, Internet Explorer 6 is not going away, both among casual users who have not gotten around to improving and among companies that rely on Internet Explorer 6 to run older applications.

“From 2001 to 2006, Microsoft was very successful in the procurement organizations and independent software vendors (ISVs) to write applications using IE6 unique characteristics,” Gartner analysts Michael Silver and David Mitchell Smith writes in a new report entitled ” The solution to the dilemma for IE6 Windows 7. ”

“Many home-grown, browser-based applications and ISV applications do not run in Internet Explorer 8 or third parties”, the analysts follow. “Inventory and Application Remediation IE6 is extremely slow, not part of the plans promoted migration tools from Microsoft, and Windows 7 is delaying the migration.”

Companies can not stay in Internet Explorer 6 for long, however. Gartner offers several tips for those who need to withdraw from the browser age 9. The best move is to repair or replace the affected applications so they can work in modern browsers that comply with Internet standards – but this is “potentially the most difficult”, according to Gartner.

MED-V is not the answer to everything

Other options include running Internet Explorer 6 on a terminal server or hosted virtual desktops to provide at least temporary access. There are also companies Microsoft Desktop Virtualization [MED-V] package, but can be quite expensive.

“Gartner clients report that Microsoft normally advised to run Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V) to solve these problems, which requires Windows license and Software Assurance Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), and equip each PC with a machine Virtual Windows XP (VM), “the report said.

MED-V, MDOP together could cost more than $ 50 per PC per year, and require additional RAM memory and computing resources.

MED-V might make sense if a company has to run multiple applications that require Windows XP, but the current version of MED-V is causing performance problems and is probably not worthwhile in many cases.

“Running a Windows XP VM (or hundreds or thousands of them) seems to be counterintuitive to solve a problem with a browser, which is supposed to be a very light way to access applications,” Gartner writes. “For many organizations, the cost to implement, run, support and ensure MED-V in the percentage of teams that need to access Internet Explorer 6 is exorbitant.”

Application virtualization can also provide a way to run Internet Explorer 6 in Windows 7. Microsoft has said the beta version of MED-V 2.0 provides more support, in part by the reorientation of IE6 legacy applications to different domains or ports.

However, Gartner believes that Microsoft is giving mixed signals about the legality of virtualization IE with third-party virtualization software.

“Although we have not heard of any formal legal action by Microsoft to suppliers or customers of the application / IE virtualization solutions, Microsoft’s position is that it violates the license terms,” writes Gartner. “According to Microsoft, Internet Explorer is only permitted as an integrated component of the operating system (either original or by upgrading from earlier versions of Internet Explorer on an operating system) and IE is not licensed for use as independent. ”

If customers really want to pursue virtualization in Windows IE 7, which must seek amendments to licensing agreements with Microsoft to specifically allow such activity. In addition to examining the legal risks, customers must also take into account the technical risks of running virtual instances of IE in Windows 7. These risks could add to security problems already inherent in the operation of an out of date browser.

“The support from Microsoft for IE6 end April 8, 2014, the day of Windows XP support ends,” writes Gartner. “If Microsoft releases all security patches for IE6 before that date, the IE” bubbles “that have to be rebuilt to be secured, and the possibility of new problems arise. The organizations that continue running after the bubbles IE end of the aid may also be vulnerable to security problems. ”

Overall, Gartner says customers should not standardize on a browser, to avoid problems like these. But the analyst firm also said that Microsoft may be acting against their own interests at the launch of obstacles in the way that companies use IE6.

“We think Microsoft should do more to help organizations with their problems in IE6 that Microsoft helped cause,” the analysts write.