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back to article Microsoft pounces as Mozilla shuns enterprise

After one of Mozilla's core employees said that the open source outfit is not concerned with enterprise customers – and likely never will be – Microsoft's Internet Explorer team has jumped into the breach to proclaim its undying love for the enterprise. With a blog post, Microsoft re-committed itself to providing support for …

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Thousands of web apps?!?

While it's somewhat helpful that Microsoft will support browser versions for years, it has also been a detriment that IE6 has lived on as long as it has. I can't really fault Mozilla for taking its stance. But what is amazing is that any enterprise with a need for that many apps would rely on web browsers as the primary vehicle. At least you'd think they'd code to Flash or Silverlight so that all they'd have to worry about was whether the browser supported the plug-in.

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I was thinking exactly the same.

Thousands of apps? I think is more likely that he is talking about half a dozen on thousands of machines, otherwise it is really mind blowing such strategy.

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Linux

Firefox is open source

Companies are free to fork it and produce a long-term supported version.

Ubuntu already does provide long-term support for many open-source projects made available in its LTS editions of its OS.

If the commercial world truly wants it, they are free to implement it. And what's more, implement it or have it implemented by a third party without having to beg and grovel to a certain software vendor in Redmond.

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Anonymous Coward

but...

Companies don't want to fork a product, they want the manufacturers of a product to support it. Why would a non-internet company want to fork a browser, it's just not core business.

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Of course...

...they wouldn't and shouldn't want to fork the browser. But, if there is an actual market for long term support (companies willing to pay cash, rather than just complain) then a third party whose core business is software can pick this up and provide an LTS Firefox with paid support. This could include conveniences like certification that web apps x, y and z will run on their version. That wouldn't help with any custom developed apps, but it could eliminate the need for a testing regime for many web apps.

One of the important aspects of open source is that development and support need not be supplied by the same party.

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Facepalm

Re: but...

"Why would a non-internet company want to fork a browser, it's just not core business."

This only leads to Bill Gates' idiotic remark about people not wanting to hack on their word processor and thus, in his proprietary world, it need not be open source. The whole point is that you can go to more than just the original developer and ask for support or enhancements if you don't want to disrupt your "core business". And that's exactly what software distributions offer.

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Megaphone

Are you high?

How are you son? Ever worked in a real company, one where you have to explain to your boss what everyone does? Companies don't want to spend a headcount on something that should be easy to buy and forget. Companies don't want custom functionality or enhancement, they just want things to not break as time passes and the world moves away from a particular version. And we're not talking IE6 here either; the guy in the article didn't even get his release through testing before support was dropped. That's not cool.

I think FF is wonderful and I recommend it widely, but the reason it has a bazillion downloads is that it's easier to reinstall than repair. Remember when everyone in open source made fun of MS for "Reboot - reinstall - resign"? Well it applies to FF now. It isn't simple software anymore, and the idea of casually reinstalling it on hundreds or thousands of desktops is laughable.

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@Cris E

"And we're not talking IE6 here either; the guy in the article didn't even get his release through testing before support was dropped. That's not cool."

This isn't some change from IE6 to IE7 where MS decided, yet again, to redo how every internal thing works. Firefox doesn't have (many) kludges you have to script around or UI display glitches to design around. Also, no one seems to realize that Firefox 5 is essentially the old Firefox 4.1-style release, but using Chrome's development cycle. They're trying to stuff minor/major browser frame tweaks and redesigns, update the javascript parser/JIT, add additional HTML5 support, etc. Most of these things should leave validation testing relatively unaffected as far as results are concerned.

All this in mind, it's when you're forced to update from old versions (v3.6+) to the newest that they shoot themselves in the foot.

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Easier to reinstall that repair?!

What sort of company systems are you running? Ones where the lusers log in with administrator privilege? Ones infested with malware?

Firefox has a (near?) perfect division between user-read-only system files and read-write user profile files, and it pretty much avoids the chamber of horrors (Windows registry) altogether. Reinstalling Firefox doesn't actually clean up the user's profile, which is the only part of the installation that a non-privileged user ought to be able to mangle. Re-setting the user profile is just a matter of creating a new one and deleting the old one, and you don't need to reinstall Firefox to do it. A few extra keyclicks will copy his bookmarks from the old profile to the new, if you are feeling kind.

As for IE ... let's just say that the "Internet Exploiter" tag is so accurate it's not funny, and the only reliable clean-up I've ever found is to create a whole new user account.

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FAIL

Firefox 4 sucked

It was possibly the worse browser I've ever used. On OSX, it would use upwards of 1.25gigs of RAM and 100% of a CPU core. Bad would be an understatement. FF2 or even Links would have been an improvement.

Mozilla should try to fix their broken crap before launch yet another set of useless features nobody wants. And now, with their policy of 6 months to EOL, you can't even roll back to a working version.... Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

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Anonymous Coward

Making this shit up.

Every time a new version of Firefox is released or even mentioned we get this same old shit. But never any data to back it up.

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/browser-memory-usage-the-good-the-bad-and-the-down-right-ugly/2024

http://cybernetnews.com/browser-comparison-internet-explorer-firefox-chrome-safari-opera/

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/opera-10.60-internet-explorer-9-safari-5,2680-10.html

http://www.tested.com/news/web-browser-showdown-memory-management-tested/2420/

And you do know that browsers cache stuff. Think about this when you're looking at the closed tabs metrics ...

But if you want to play the anecdote game, Firefox 4 runs just fine on my crappy, low-end Acer Aspire One running some crappy, low-end freetard OS.

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Unhappy

Sigh

While I've not seen 100% CPU use, I _have_ seen Firefox grab up to 1.5 GB of RAM. Indeed, while I was reading your outrage at someone stating that your fav web browser was less than perfect, this http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6685894/Activity%20Monitor.png is what my system was reporting for RAM usage. Note the real memory and CPU time results. And you really should add in the plug-ins, too, only two are visible in that shot but four were running. I _know_ that it wasn't for the fact that it's 09:00 on a Sunday morning when I wasn't doing very much, both the RAM usage and the CPU usage would be considerably higher.

And all the downvotes in the world will not changes _facts_. Firefox 4 is a _dog_ under OS X.

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WTF?

Stop spitting fire

I don't need your links to tell me FF4 on my games rig with few to no add-ons installed DI eat RAM, did run like a goat and WAS less reliable than IE9, that's why I removed it.

Your stats are fine in a test lab environment by where are the real-world usage stats and not reviews from people paid to say nice things.

FF are just doing this to emulate Google and lor knows for waht reason, they've excluded a huge potential market here and now you'll see devs heading back to MS just becuase it'll be less of a headache of a platform, and we're talking about MICROSOFT here !?!?!

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FFOSX

I don't think Firefox is properly optimised for OSX.

For instance: for some reason, people using FF on OSX have problems with our (company) website occasionally, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason to it (it's all bog standard, Standards compliant XHTML/CSS with a little non-essential JavaScript - turning the JS off merely breaks some shiny, has no effect on the functionality) - but sometimes it just hangs for them.

I suspect it something to do with Firefox's crap cache management - which is, if we're honest about it, god awful on any system. Sometimes it won't reload linked stylesheets with the page, often it won't reload Flash or Java objects even if you clear out the history before reloading... there's something definitely iffy with FFs caching system... and I think it's iffier under OSX than anything else.

... and this is coming from someone who uses FF as their default browser despite also using IE8/9 (IE9 isn't bad actually), Opera and Chrome.

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Paris Hilton

Labs

Even out of the 'lab' you're wrong, that said I'm not going to discount the potential for a bug somewhere.

As for devs moving to microsoft, /we/ don't even test IE these days let alone use it for dev. If it's fine in something webkit and ff we don't care if microsoft are screwing their browsers still (they are).

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FAIL

Jeez

"As for devs moving to microsoft, /we/ don't even test IE these days"

Could you let me know the name of your company so I can avoid ever buying any of your software?

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Anonymous Coward

Sigher

"Indeed, while I was reading your outrage at someone stating that your fav web browser was less than perfect, this "

I use chromium.

"Your stats are fine in a test lab environment by where are the real-world usage stats and not reviews from people paid to say nice things."

So lab data is bad. Anecdotes are good. And lab data is all just a conspiracy anyway. I'm guessing you call this "skepticism".

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Boffin

sighest

so you don't actually use the browser in question, on any platform, and you put your trust in Official Statements rather than actual real-world user experience? I have FireFox 4 open now; it is using 269 MB. I also have IE9 open; it is using 39 MB. And I have Safari 5 open; it is using 98 MB. All have the same tabs open.

Safari and IE9 together use a little more than half the RAM used by FireFox 4.

This is on Win7 Pro 64 bit, running on a Toshiba Satellite L305 with 3 GB RAM.

If the testing methodologies do not reveal what it is trivial to uncover in the real world, then the probability exists that something is wrong with the testing methodologies. It is simply quite clear that Firefox 4 has a major memory management problem. Indeed, I would say that the indecent haste with which Mozilla dumped it shows that they _know_ that there's a problem and that they won't, or, more likely, _can't_, fix it.

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Stop

None of this would be an issue...

None of this would be an issue if browsers were actually used *as browsers*, instead of as a sub-par general-purpose applications platform. The two uses have different goals and, now, different development cycles. That is not a bad thing. If a new Firefox version is capable of significant disruption to your business applications, those applications are broken as designed.

There are safe, long-term-supported choices for application platforms. Browsers aren't and shouldn't be one of them. I'm not a fan of version inflation for marketing purposes, but I'm certainly not complaining about Mozilla's move on support grounds.

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Stop

Who's the developer?

If you have a web developer coding for a certain browser, you have a lazy web developer. Fire him/her and hire one who codes to w3 standards.

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Meh

Who cares...

I still prefer Firefox over IE. But my clients are free to use whatever version of both browsers that works for them. As long as it is not Chrome I am OK with it. Of course, I deal with small/medium business, so the flexibility is greater. But all this enterprise testing crap never helped any user of bigger companies. They complain when stuff doesn't work and they complain when you update any applications to a newer version. It is thankless position to support any browsers.

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Holmes

Mozilla was in the Enterprise to begin with? Really?

You know, Ive seen a good number of enterprise systems, but Ive never seen a single one of them run their web apps on Firefox. Perhaps it has to do with Mozilla's update strategy or perhaps its a North American quirk, but more likely it has to do with Enterprise web applications being geared toward IE since the end of the 1990's browser wars, which is something that was never likely to change. Asa Dotzler usually states the obvious, while putting a pro-user spin on it. Its his job. And he does it well. He's a nice guy to boot.

No, Firefox is not geared toward Enterprise adoption. Mozilla chose not to do that many years ago as the Mozilla Suite wasn't well received among the Enterprise community when they tried pitching it to several large corporations. To my knowledge, albeit limited as I was in the Active Component of the United States Army at the time and IT outside of encryption wasn't something I paid much attention to except to complain about Army Knowledge Online occasionally, only one division of the Eastman-Kodak Corporation (which was spun off after they lost contracts with Walt Disney Co and Universal Parks Resorts and Vacations several years ago), ever adopted it and I was surprised as hell when I saw it working on the weekends at one of those parks, for that division, let me tell you.

I dont know if Im in the minority, but Id rather the browser that I use on my home systems be free and open source, cross platform, mostly secure and updated frequently, community tested, and (above all) without telling Google what I'm doing.

If I am in the minority, I cant say I really care and its not going to compel me to switch or suggest people I know switch. Again though, Id never suggest it to Enterprise customers. Its not geared towards them, but really, it doesn't mean that its a bad piece of software or isn't going to do well in the future, nor does it suggest that Mozilla doesnt have faith in their core product. Opera's always been for enthusiasts and they're doing fine, as are Mozilla's two other desktop browsers, SeaMonkey and Camino. Safari for anyone but Mac users attracts the fanboi audience that would and frequently does buy shit as long as its name starts with a lower-case "i" and has a fruit based logo on it, but they do fine even. I wouldn't use Safari on Windows if someone paid me (well, maybe if they paid me, but not without compensation) but it doesn't mean its a flawed piece of Software.

....and here comes my obligatory downvote for not believing in Jesus Christ of Cupertino.

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False Dichotomy

There is no reason why a browser can't be all these things and have a support life cycle long enough to make it a viable Enterprise tool.

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Not geared towards the enterprise...

"No, Firefox is not geared toward Enterprise adoption. Mozilla chose not to do that many years ago as the Mozilla Suite wasn't well received among the Enterprise community when they tried pitching it to several large corporations. To my knowledge, albeit limited as I was in the Active Component of the United States Army at the time..."

The problem with this approach, and Dotzler's/Mozilla's as well, is that it completely ignores the user/customer base outside the US. This base is/was largely made up of enterprises that attempted to make their websites more standards-compliant while at the same time avoiding the security risks connected with ActiveX controls/BHOs etc. Examples include Fujitsu as well as some major publishers on this side of the pond. In fact, part of the huge success FF has had in Europe (especially Germany) directly results from adoption in the enterprise. So yeah, it's at least short-sighted to kick these loyal followers in the groin.

On the other hand, I've lately seen companies switch to Chrome mainly because FF was lagging so far behind in comparison. Which obviously means that shorter refresh cycles can be handled without too many problems. The same might be true for FF - which I'm keeping for pretty much the same reasons as you do.

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IE vs FB

In my spare time I like to play games on Facebook, IE doesn't work on fb games, never has. Just having it on the computer puts mega bites of garbage on my system. I see it every time I run CCleaner at the end of the day and I don't ever open IE if I can avoid it. I use firefox as my main browser. If it acts up I use chrome but not very often. Firefox works & that's as plain as it gets.

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Meh

EOL?

I love rapid releases, but why do they have to kill support for the previous version so quickly? It's somewhat ironic when Firefox 3.6 is still being supported. It seems they're pushing things a little too hard.

And looking at the changelog, it's definitely much more than a "secuirty update". Perhaps they should inform users of changes like this from early on...

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Meh

Fork it? Or pay for Legacy Support.

Well if they want they could fork Firefox and CorpFox could stay on the 4.0 code for years.

Or they could pay someone to back port security changes to 4.0 for them.

How many Firefox developers do Corps pay for?

I have a feeling it is a small number, possibly none.

So if this is important to IBM they can pay for it just like they do for other things.

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Facepalm

"great solution for corporate customers"

In the browser arena? Can it get any more retar^H^H^H^H^Htired?

The only "corporate customers" that should care about "corporate support" for their browsers are the dodos still running IE6 because they haven't managed to update their intranet cancers to anything that runs on modern browsers.

If it's good for the guy in the street, it's good for you. If you need anything corporate superspecial, maybe you are doing it wrong.

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Amateur

You actually worked in enterprise IT? Supported a few thousand users?

I insist on a simple policy regarding software used in the companies I've managed their IT for:

- Can I patch it centrally?

- Can I manage it centrally?

- Is it under support?

If users are using software that's not supported by the vendor, then when there's a problem and the helpdesk can't fix it who do they go to? Me. If I can't fix it then who do I call...? Nobody - I have the problem.

Firefox fails at all three of the above. I could overlook the first one if they at least provided me with GPO's I can use to manage the bloody thing. (From Mozilla - not some 3rd party or community knocked-up one)

It's rarely a case of if it's good enough for Joe Bloggs at home then it's good enough for the enterprise.

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Corporations can all got to the flames

Corporations try to control way too much. As far as I am concerned I hope they all get IE viri and burn in hell.

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Facepalm

a title

does that include the mozilla corporation?

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Corps control

Because the IT department in a large corp is made up of the poor bastards expected to do unpaid overtime, long after everyone else has gone home, because some clueless numpty in finance has decided to install a "humorous" screensaver that's just infected the network with a zero-day worm...

When the users are prepared to pay the IT department's overtime (at at least time and a half) from their own wages - THEN they can install their own software.

*I fed the troll - it looked hungry*

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Hm...

If that's true, then please tell me why Google doesn't stick with the home user base, but try to get their browser, apps, OS etc. adopted in enterprise environments, up to the point where they add Chrome features to IE?

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WTF?

Its simply never going to happen...

I'm amazed to read the reaction from the MS camp; don't these guys keep up with the developments in the world around them ?

I respect the Firefox project but I stopped liking it. Ever since they started to think that mimicking other browsers was the right way to go I gave up. Simply put: I don't like suddenly seeing my NoScript icon (normally at the lower right bottom) appear somewhere on the upper left corner nor do I like seeing AdBlock pro somewhere on the lower left side of the screen.

As said; written in respect but the Mozilla team doesn't care at all about backwards compatibility or (IMO:) user opinions. Using tabs in a mail client (Thunderbird) ? I could live with it if I could turn the whole kaboodle off somehow (and no; /not/ simply hiding them; I want to make sure they never get in my face at all). Given the high scores this particular question gets on Google searches makes me believe that I'm not alone here..

Yet all of that isn't possible. Tabs will get in your face in Thunderbird, Firefox keeps trying to mimick Google's Chrome (at least I guess as much) and quite frankly I think that's the sole reason why you'll hardly see this in the enterprise. You don't want to teach your users after every upgrade that a certain icon suddenly changed position because it was impossible to make it do otherwise.

The latest developments made me fully drop FF and TBird and I eventually moved over to SeaMonkey. I just want up to date software (at least capable of thwarting nasty software) without the need to get accustomed to a new interface every time.

Still.. As much as I personally dislike FF & TBird right now I still respect the projects. And that respect has risen here. IMO the Mozilla team shows some cold hard common sense here; and MS... They simply don't seem to understand what hit 'm.

My stance on /that/ ? "Figures".

I love what MS has done with Windows 7 (no kidding) but with articles like these I think they never really did get past their "the internet is not important" way of doing business (read: seemingly ignoring everything which is happening in the world around them).

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JPO
IT Angle

Au contraire

"I love what MS has done with Windows 7 (no kidding) but with articles like these I think they never really did get past their "the internet is not important" way of doing business (read: seemingly ignoring everything which is happening in the world around them)."

Actually Microsoft is very serious about supporting the latest web standards. IE9 is among top-3 browsers supporting W3C standard HTML5. Windows 8 is targeted to be the best HTML5 standards compliant platform for web. IE10 is likely continuing on the route (and is part of W8).

Based on latest information, it seems likely that Microsoft is making a huge shift towards latest web technologies, by making HTML5 as the user interface API for their operating systems and development tools.

This approach has some excellent things in it. With HTML5 UI you can run the application from the web or with local back end (application).

It seems that Microsoft is very keen on building their future platform using latest standards based web technologies.

This is a separate thing from supporting a browser as long as the OS it shipped with is supported. While I do not recommend that event business customers should use 5-10 year old browser, I fully agree that a browser need to have at least 3-4 year lifespan. Not 3 months.

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WTF?

re: Au Countraire

"Windows 8 is targeted to be the best HTML5 standards compliant platform for web."

Eh? What a load of meaningless bulldust. The operating system has no bearing on HTML5 and other W3C standards compliance. Any reasonably modern OS is capable of running a modern, buzzword compliant web browser.

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au au contraire

"Actually Microsoft is very serious about supporting the latest web standards. IE9 is among top-3 browsers supporting W3C standard HTML5."

Actually not. See the answer to your other PR post. Worst, since that report with "silly" tests ie9 still comply with 141 results more or less the same on 'that' report. Only in November there was 283 tests and now there are 450. As today I will repeat the results:

ie8 14/450 - yes, 14!

ie9 (w7) 141/450 - yes 141!

Firefox 5 1.0 (Lubuntu 11.04) - 286/450

Crhome 12 (w7) or Chromium 14 (Lubuntu 11.04) - 312/450.

Sorry no more results since I have to ask a friend a Windows machine. Later I will try others but I'm sure the will eclipse any IE!

"Windows 8 is targeted to be the best HTML5 standards compliant platform for web. IE10 is likely continuing on the route (and is part of W8)."

Are you so 'inside' MS to make such futuristic statements?

"It seems that Microsoft is very keen on building their future platform using latest standards based web technologies."

Exactly. It 'seems'.

I wish your comments were true and finally see MS respecting the standards but for the moment thet are mere propaganda and FUD vs Firefox.

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Coffee/keyboard

Oh Contreally

You *so* work for Microsoft.

Not saying that as an insult, but son, you need some more training on this "how to spread positive influence without looking like you're being paid to do it" job you're on.

A *lot* more training.

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FAIL

Moz = Sad but understandable; MS = Funny

Firefox and IE are the two mainstream browsers with the worst standards compliance. Firefox 5 scored 97 on Acid3 test and IE 9 scored 95 with compatibility mode turned off and 13 with compatibility mode turned on. Firefox also has a stronger UI and more extensibility than IE, as does Safari and Opera, Chrome has a weaker UI IMO but I cant fault it on speed, standards compliance, or extensibility. I don't blame Mozilla or any other browser company for wanting to avoid the hassles of supporting enterprise but Firefox is more capable than IE. Frankly, any other mainstream browser is.

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JPO

Acid 3 is no longer HTML5 standards compliant

"Firefox and IE are the two mainstream browsers with the worst standards compliance. Firefox 5 scored 97 on Acid3 test and IE 9 scored 95 with compatibility mode turned off"

At the moment these 3-5 tests which fail in Acid3 are due the fact that current W3C HTML5 draft has a different spec than Acid3 test.

W3C HTML5 test is a better metric for standards compliance

http://w3c-test.org/html/tests/reporting/report.htm

You might find surprising that IE9 and Firefox rank as top-2 HTML5 compliant browsers. None of the browsers are 100% compliant yet (FF, IE, WebKit or Chrome)

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FAILED...

@JPO

You failed to mention the 'silly' results on that report so silly that W3C tried to desmistified that misinformation ( for example - http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20021606-264.html?tag=mncol;txt)

Although you're right in one thing - html5 tests is a better metrics compliance for a modern browser. So, as today let's look how they are positioned:

- IE8 14/450; (!!!)

- IE9 141/450; (!!)

- Firefox 5 1.0 (Lubuntu Linux) 286/450;

- Chrome 12 (W7) 312/450;

- Chromium 14 (Lubuntu Linux) 312/450.

Don't believe?

Why don't you try?

html5test.com

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making many regular users happy

I don't think that Mozillia has done such a good job "making many regular users happy."

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=574654

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Linux

Re: making many regular users happy

"I currently have 59 tabs open in FF 3.6.9... With the current FF4 beta, I can only get 11 1/2 tabs on screen at once."

Next up: man complains to tool manufacturer that his hammer won't screw in screws, cut cables, drill holes, remove stubborn stains.

There are better examples of stagnant functionality in Firefox, but that thread is 99% whining. I particularly like this remark: "I'd estimate that between 800 and 900 people have switched to Firefox over the years because of me."

Everybody knows that if you have to pull the "Do you know who I am?" or "I'll have you know that I'm a VIP!" moves, you're a lot less influential than you think you are.

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faster?

quote ""I'm now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially unpatched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x."

Or get a faster test cycle? Why does that solution never get mentioned?

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Because...

Because no test cycle is going to be instantaneous, which is how fast your app test cycle would have to have to be to stay on a version of Firefox receiving bug fixes?

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FAIL

Retarded comment

Only someone who still plays in the sand pit could make such a ridiculous statement. Those of us who live in the real world, know that the payback for real testing, is many times the cost. The time is always well spent. Short circuited test cycles result in long and painful support periods. Testing is expensive and consumes manpower. The cost benefit is heavily in favour of careful test/release cycles. No support organisation can go to work and handle 500,000 calls for a supported application that just broke because of a browser rollout. And trust me, that shit has hapenned in the real world - and much much worse.

I think our customers are still 80%+ on IE, and the IE6 component only just fell below 50%. We support FF 3.x and IE6, IE7. The cost of supporting 3 browsers is all we can manage. We are as careful as we can, and the applications work on later versions, but the rendering is often different and looks amateurish because of what looks like bad coding on our part.

Reality check: We are investigating, seriously, to deploy a "real" application ie. not browser based, to save us the endless hassle of supporting our application on multiple browsers. Of course the problem is that any customer that still has XP/IE6 probably has mandated rules that would prohibit installation of our application. But the fact is that we are considering it ... and that's a fact.

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Facepalm

Oh, sort it out Mozilla

It's not that difficult... package it in an MSI, more options in prefs.js to disable UI elements and allow it to read from a central profile as well as a user profile. This has been staring the company in the face for years and yet the big decision makers in the company refuse to do it for some unfathomable reason.

The decision to change major version numbers every quarter for relatively minor changes was purely a marketing one driven by Google-envy, the technical problem is that previously major version numbers were for major changes and point version numbers for minor changes and extensions used that to determine compatibility and now it's coming back to haunt them.

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Anonymous Coward

MSI

What's that then?

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Re: MSI

It's something that a competent admin doesn't actually *need* and that they can generate themselves if they really *want*, given a functional setup program.

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MSI is native windows installer.

MSI is the format which you are expected to deploy (install) all apps on Windows. It has some excellent features that allows real cool things even for single user home PCs, like "repair" option. You can make your own MSI files, even a MS employee maintained, truly opensource without any strings attached application exists on sourceforge. Yes, MS even chose sf.net to make people less paranoid. BTW, while you see ordinary setup.exe files, they are generally packaged MSI files just being more compatible and old school friendly. They (setup.exe) generally extracts a MSI file to temp folder and instructs explorer to open it.

Similar situation exists on OS X too. Mozilla refuses to use OS X native installer format, .PKG even while Apple trusts and succeeds entire OS installs to it. That creates issues in Mac enterprise (well, Hollywood) and even small home networks.

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