Find a niche and sell it for all it's worth. Well done to them, I say.
A browser startup has undercut some of government's biggest IT suppliers to win its largest deal: shifting HM Revenue & Customs from Internet Explorer 6 and Windows XP to IE8 and Windows 7. Browsium has moved 85,000 PC users from Microsoft’s hated browser and dated Windows XP, out-bidding computing stalwarts Capgemini and …
I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that these things are essentially still using IE6, but hiding it round the back. What happens when XP support goes? You're still stuck using components that MS aren't supporting, so you'll be stuffed in just the same way as soon as a bug comes up.
I would expect that Browsium are now the ones providing support for the "IE6 Frame" and all the associated components that aren't part of Windows 7, as that would all need to be rolled into their plugin for this to work under Windows 7.
It sounds like a very good way to escape from IE6 - that was always a tricky problem as most large corporates dare not go for a "Big Bang" approach to that migration, even if they could afford it.
The point is that it allows HMRC to get the hideousness of IE6 out of their systems.
Once they've got rid of IE6 they can start to use new applications developed for standards-compliant browsers, whilst still retaining support for their old IE6 applications. They will still have a couple of years to migrate any legacy IE6 apps to newer browsers. Admittedly that's a blink of an eye in government IT terms, but it's a start.
Erm, yes and no. So long as Browsium works in the current OS, you don't need XP, so that gets you out of that problem. But because it is still rendering in what is effectively a Native IE6 environment, yes it still is and doesn't really get you out of IE6. It just lets you NOT have to rewrite your hideously old VB6 web apps to support current standards.
As I see it, the real risk is whether or not Browsium provides potential IE6 malware infection vectors even though you think you are safe because you are running if from a Windows 8 PC running IE11. And since it is HMRC, that sounds like a good targeted (although not quite spear) attack environment for me.
Well enough wasting on the morning setting up a vm to actually run 15 year old browsers. And by the way posting with lynx or some other text only browser is not sporting. El Reg as expected looks like crap on Net Nav 2 but degrades itself remarkable well where it still actually possible to read the articles (lol looks like the WAP version though).
Will HMRC do that?
Will they f**k.
HMRC *should* view this as a *short* term migration tool to let them upgrade their apps in a *controlled* manner with a nice sustainably sized time working through the migration list. Here's an idea. Stop making them browser *specific*.
But instead they will probably continue to run their IE6 specific stuff (and let me guess make sure their *new* staff know how to write IE6 specific code as well, perpetuating this s**t).
Like a Heroin addict on Methadone. They're still an addict.
Possibly and probably. All software comes to a point where it needs refactored or replaced because the world has moved beyond it. I'm not talking about the browser, hardware or related software, I'm talking about the human needs for the software in the first place. At the point where the underlying software needs rewritten the interface can be updated too. If 'patches' like this can extend a number of years before jumping in the code is necessary, then yes, I would say it saves money.
Unfortunately the article doesn't go into details, but it does say that the money is for "Browsium", whereas the Cap/Fujitsu bid probably covered the re-write of all of the backend systems.
And that bit is probably the expensive bit.
And it still has to be done.
What this solution does give HMRC is the ability to move straight to W7 (and so presumably make legacy support savings) and migrate the old IE6 only stuff in a more piecemeal fashion.
I expect HMRC will still be giving £30m+ to Cap/Fujitsu to re-write those legacy systems over the next few years.
When was that around?
Oh, you mean when NN and IE had completely different DOMs so you ended up writing each script twice?
Yeah, none of this 'standardised library' nonsense that we get from jQuery.
Sheesh. Get yer facts right.
Tables are for the display of tabular data. Not for layout/styling. That's what styesheets are for. Y'know, so you can reskin the site in 2 years time without having to edit every line of code on every page with <font color='green'> or somesuch rubbish.
The good old days? They were shit.
I would agree on tables but I'm not sure we're better off with jquery. Most problems with js can be solved with a couple helper functions. Jquery is a framework so there's over head which hits performance especially with things like each() vs a for loop or unwrap(). So you're either writing something small where it doesn't matter but probably don't really need jquery or you still need to know core JS and learn where jquery's weak spots are. That or you have a shitty experience that pisses people off.
Too often people throw tons of JS libs at a problem which is fine if you have awesome broband and are on your home pc but it's shit on 3g and smaller devices.
Then there's the fact jquery is the new PHP and attracts every no talent 'developer' so trusting jquery add-ons is risky at best.
"Tables are for the display of tabular data. Not for layout/styling. That's what styesheets are for."
Yes we're all aware of the mantra, which web developers must recite at every possible opportunity. After all, it justifies them getting a lot of work to create old sites.
"Oh, you mean when NN and IE had completely different DOMs so you ended up writing each script twice?"
Well, actually, you wrote a compatibility class that provided a consistent API so you only had to write each script one.
But, yes, I fondly remember IE6's document.getElementByIdOrNameSoBuggyPagesMysteriouslyDon'tWorkInMozillaBrowsers.
Simplicity? Tables? Are you on crack?
I for one certainly wont lament the passing of generations of browsers that paid scant regard to W3 standards.
"Browsium's low-cost answer was to avoid rewrites. [...] When it receives a call to a URL for IE6, it reproduces IE6's security and configuration [...] to make sure things still work."
I did this three years ago by fixing DNS in networks, and making sure internal app servers were visited with short names. IE8 automatically placed these in the "Local Intranet" zone, doing all of that natively. For others that needed full names or IPs I made Group Policy objects that put those things in the same zone. Sites in this zone automatically use 'compatibility' mode and relaxed security, unless their HTML has headers that tell IE8 to do otherwise.
So Browsium wrote a hack that does what was built in already. And they got paid to do this? If they have a patent, I claim prior art.
If it's anything like some of the places I've worked, you start off with one little helper app with an activeX control, webapps have been the up and coming thing over the last decade or so. You then expand out as you add new apps and functionality, because the browser's alway's there, and why not just make this new java cms run on ie6 with activeX because the poor programmers can implement a HTML/JS/java based UI and not have to keep distributing program updates to everyone and and and ... you get the idea. It's the creep of taking the cheap way out once or twice, and then eventually finding out you have to stay that course, or everything breaks at once in an expensive fashion.
Of course it would be more in line with policy to end vendor lock-in during technology refresh and upgrade cycles if they put something like Chrome or Firefox on XP and starting upgrading apps and putting a web front end on client/server apps one at a time with proper testing for a range of browser technologies. Find solutions for the apps, then make your choice of device, browsers and OS when you like in a piecemeal fashion as fits user requirements.
No reason you can't do this solution on a remote desktop for any apps not worth upgrading or that cause particular difficulties.
This approach on all desktops seems to be only required as they've chosen to upgrade the OS and browser first. Getting an upgrade discount in before the Open Standards and Open Source policies bite or it counts as a new project?
Which CIO in the delivery board was responsible for end user device, reference architecture and technical (er open standards subject to the current consultation?) standards? One guess. (Fig 4 on the SIP).
With all due respect to the Browsium team - HMRC would now seem to be locked into one value added channel reseller of one upstream technology provider until they do the redevelopment anyway.
Read this and ROTFLMHO. Where did all the stuff in the article come from?
Brosium been implemented? Nope not today. Later this year probably.
Upgrade to Windows 7? Nope not today, still on XP.
Apps locked into IE6? Yup.
Whose been writing them? Oh, probably the suppliers and their contract staff, no one else to write them.
So let me see if I understood this article. The Aspire Consortium quoted roughly £35 million to upgrade 85000 desktops to Windows 7 and IE8/9. I assume this included hardware costs.
Browsium came along and said, hey, we can upgrade you NOW to IE8 by installing a plugin on every desktop so that your old applications will still run, but we won't upgrade you now to Windows 7 and IE9 as it would break too many applications.
I have a few questions:
a) Who is going to support their XP environment once Microsoft stop doing so?
b) When are they going to upgrade their desktop hardware and Windows version?
c) When are they planning on fixing their applications so that they're not so locked in to a particular browser?
In the end, they're still going to need to spend the £35 million pounds or whatever it is to upgrade their hardware and OS.
Anyway, it's the start of the long weekend here (it's 7pm and I'm still in the office in Perth), so I'm off.
"I assume this included hardware costs."
35 million divided by 85000 is a tad over £400 per desktop, so it is probably mostly hardware costs.
Obviously I can only guess at your questions, but they would appear to have perfectly plausible answers:
1) Who supports XP after 2014? Quite possibly no-one, which isn't terribly different from the current situation. The security of the XP systems that I manage depends mostly on running with minimum privilege and keeping them away from dodgier parts of the interwebs. (I don't think I've even *seen* an internet-facing XP system in many years.) It seems to work.
2) When are they upgrading Windows and hardware? As and when they need to, which is going to prove a darn sight cheaper than "because it's Spring", which is how the vendors would like us to operate.
3) When are they planning on fixing their apps? Never. I'd be surprised if they had the source code. I'd be surprised if anyone who knew how it worked was still employed by them. I'd be surprised if the companies that got the contract to develop it are all still in existence. I'd be surprised if there was a budget for "things that don't deliver new features".
At some point, the applicable law will change and the apps won't be doing the right thing anymore. Then someone will commission a shiny new crock.
Just how much will this cost per computer?
Even if all it does is buy time, and let them use current replacement hardware/OS systems, it sounds as though the cost is remarkably low. I've just upgraded to Win 7 myself from XP, and I am not 100% convinced it was a good move, but XP just can't get the best out of current hardware. Trouble is, Win 7 can still do some things horribly slowly, even if some things are incredibly faster than under XP on the same hardware.
Your experience probably doesn't apply to an organisation like HMRC.
It probably has a volume licence for XP, so it could roll out the shiny new hardware and put XP instances in VMs. Or it could set up a vast array of Terminal Server machines and use all the old hardware as RDP clients and never upgrade them at all.
The point is, if your problem is IE6 then the minimal answer is an IE6 replacement, not a migration to Win7. That's the difference between Browsium and the more expensive bid.
The artice describes a plug-in to IE8/IE9 to allow IE6 apps to run but does not explain that the cost of reimaging/replacing 85,000 dekstops with W7 and IE8/IE9 still has to be paid. It is also just putting off the inevitable as these apps must be ancient and in need of an upgrade at some point soon so is at best a cost delay. The reluctance of government to move forward to modern apps that can move to the cloud is actually costing them money.
I can't help but think that £1.3m for a web plugin that essentially puts IE6 back on a PC, and effectively very little else, is still well over budget for any government that still does not support SMEs in any meaningful way. As for £35m.... it would be laughable if it wasn't for the fact that they will continue to fork out this ludicrous amount for often late, and mostly substandard work.
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