Startup Browsium, is readying a lifeline for enterprise IT organizations that moving to Windows 7 but unable to escape their addiction to Internet Explorer 6. The Redmond-based startup staffed by ex-Microsoft employees is planning to release UniBrows an add-on for Internet Explorer 8 that lets customers access IE6 dependent web apps from the now defacto standard that is IE 8.The Virtualization Practice’s Andrew Wood has previously covered Microsoft’s negative stance on one third-party solution that looked to provide a means of virtualizing IE 6. However, it looks as though Browsium’s approach of embedding support for IE 6 within IE 8 will protect it from the action that Microsoft took against Spoon. UniBrows does not virtualize the old browser. Instead, Browsium has licensed several IE6 DLLs from Microsoft so that the add-on can run as a child process of IE8. Web sites requiring IE 6 support can be pre-defined through an administrative console and whenever a user attempts to launch a connection to one of these sites, IE 8 cedes control to the IE 6 DLLs which take control of the active browser tab to provide the required IE 6 specific functionality.
IE 6 is still responsible for approximately 9% of all browser usage and although its market share continues to fall, its decline has been much slower within enterprise environments than it has on consumer desktops. Internal web application compatibility problems continue to hold back many organizations from upgrading the browser and enterprises are appear to be reluctant to prioritize fixing these applications. It would appear then that there is a healthy market opportunity for Browsium and others to take advantage of. Microsoft will ultimately stop supporting Windows XP in April 2014, at which point support for IE 6 will also end. Some time before then enterprise IT organizations will have to fix their web applications or face the inevitable consequences. Until then UniBrows buys them a little time to put off the inevitable migration away from IE 6 without postponing migration to Windows 7.
UniBrows is currently in beta, but is expected to ship before year end.