Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

Summary: Gartner Inc. analysts have published a research note for their clients who are still stuck on Internet Explorer 6, offering guidance around "Solving the IE 6 Dilemma." But none of options included are very palatable -- at least not according to Gartner.

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Gartner Inc. analysts have published a research note for their clients who are still stuck on Internet Explorer 6, offering guidance around "Solving the IE 6 Dilemma." But none of options included are very palatable -- at least not according to Gartner.

Gartner notes that a number of organizations still are supporting and/or standardizing on IE 6 -- nine years after its introduction -- because they've built up sizable installed bases of line-of-business applications that are IE 6-dependent (among other reasons). These organizations aren't easily able to move to IE 8 or Windows 7 because of these dependencies, they said.

Gartner estimates that "organizations running IE6 report that up to 40% of homegrown browser applications fail to run properly with IE8."

"Furthermore, many ISV applications, including complex ERP and CRM applications, with lengthy and expensive migration requirements, must be remediated before IE8 can be used," Gartner officials said in the research note. "Through 2014, IE8 compatibility problems will cause at least 20% of organizations to run overtime or overbudget on their Windows 7 migration projects," Gartner estimated.

The research outfit is advising these customers to "continue to fix or replace affected applications with ones that adhere to Internet standards by April 2014" (the date XP SP3 support ends). But fixing apps is hard and time consuming, especially for those with hundreds or thousands of internally developed programs, Gartner acknowledged.

There are  some temporary solutions that IE6-burdened organizations can apply, but none of them are without problems, Gartner said. Microsoft offers customers a few possible workarounds, including terminal services and MED-V, its operating-system virtualization technology. Various other software vendors, including VMware, also offer virtualization technologies that can be  used to run IE 6 applications on top of Windows 7, the researchers noted.

The problem? Microsoft's offerings are pricey (MED-V is available only to customers who purchase Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing), Gartner said. And the third-party offerings are potentially fraught with legal complications, the Gartner analysts added.

Companies including InstallFree, VMware, Symantec and Spoon.Net are offering tools specifically for virtualizing older versions of IE for use on Windows 7, Gartner said. "They embed certain OS components with the IE 'bubbles' to allow IE6 or IE7 to run and provide compatibility. But this kind of virtualization may run afoul of Microsoft licensing, Gartner is warning its clients.

So what's a customer stuck on IE 6 to do?

"A set of (IE 6 migration) tools from Microsoft would be nice," said Gartner analyst Michael Silver, "But Microsoft seems to have decided not to help extend the life of IE 6 apps." (A decision applauded by many, but not all,developers, partners and customers, I'd point out.)

Gartner is suggesting its customers request indemnification clauses be added to their contracts. From the list of recommendations in Gartner's research note:

"Request Microsoft to grant specific contractual amendments to allow you to virtualize IE6 as a Windows 7 compatibility solution without fear of reprisal (but consider that Microsoft could still pursue your application virtualization vendor with legal action). Organizations in need of IE6 compatibility solutions that don't have sufficient licenses to use Terminal Services and want to comply with Microsoft’s recommendation to avoid IE6 application virtualization should petition Microsoft for use of Windows 2003 Server software and associated Remote Desktop Services (RDS) client access licenses (CALs) for the sole use of accessing IE6 at no charge through 8 April 2014."

"If Microsoft hates these (third-party) solutions, maybe they should improve terminal services or offer something lighter-weight than MED-V," Silver opined.

I asked Microsoft officials for comment on Gartner's report and was referred to a recent Microsoft blog posts on how to deploy various Microsoft virtualization licensing options as part of a migration to Windows 7. Microsoft execs had nothing specific to say about Gartner's IE 6-focused recommendations.

Update: I did get an updated statement from Microsoft, however, after this post was published. The Softies emphasized other researchers have said the majority of business users are planning to move to Windows 7 and IE 8 in the next 24 months.  From a spokesperson:

"To help customers take advantage of the modern desktop Microsoft makes available a significant number of resources to help organizations with their migrations to Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8 including: Webcasts, Prescriptive guidance, Whitepapers, Tools; and Temporary virtualization solutions.

"Extensive information on all of these resources is available to customers on our  Springboard, MSDN and Windows 7 Enterprise sites."

Any business customers out there have other options they're considering or implementing to wean your organization from IE 6?

Topics: CXO, Browser, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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58 comments
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  • Perfect example why you don't tie to Microsoft

    People should be fired for this debacle.

    If nothing else, you need to get away from Proprietary platforms. That includes just about anything Microsoft.
    itguy08
    • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

      @itguy08 : Fanboi or Linux zealot? Can't tell. :-)
      Gis Bun
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @Gis Bun

        Both, I'd say.
        Lerianis10
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @Gis Bun: he still has a solid point. Any IT director or decision-maker who runs a company into this kind of expensive (and ultimately unsustainable) mess _should_ be fired.

        Relying on vendor promises without alternative or option long-term is sheer incompetence on the IT decision-makers' part. IT is supposed to help a business profit, not become a money-sink.

        This is frickin' IT management 101 FFS...
        Random_Walk
      • @Gis Bun and Lerianis10

        It's your kind of myopic view of technology that got the corporate world saddled with these IE6 based applications in the first place. Microsoft completely abandon these ActiveX elements in IE7 and shows no sign of supporting them in the future (unless you count XP Mode as support).

        Here's what you guys should do: Rewrite all your IE6 applications in Silverlight. It's a RIA tool that will let you develop applications that no other platform can touch. They will look so cool! You will remain tied to the hip with Microsoft and force another decade of job security. Silverlight is the next IE6.
        Info-Dave
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @Info-Dave

        Totally agree! Why any IT manager would touch Silverlight (or Flash for that matter) is completely beyond me. Totally agree with Random_walk as well: I am loving how much I get to say "I told you so" to all those people who wrote code for IE6. Be nice if MS offered to pay for code rewrites. ;-)
        rossdav
      • It was Wintard fanbois that created this mess

        They never could understand the web.
        @Gis Bun
        GoPower
      • And who's fault is that?

        [i]nine years after its introduction ? because they?ve built up sizable installed bases of line-of-business applications that are IE 6-dependent (among other reasons). These organizations aren?t easily able to move to IE 8 or Windows 7 because of these dependencies, they said.[/i]

        Who created these dependencies in the first place?

        One word.

        Hint: It begins with an "M".
        ahh so
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        Most people are ALREADY using IE8 AT HOME.... no reason why there should need to be any retraining in order to use<a href="http://www.bsoleb.org/"><font color="light&amp;height"> ATV </font></a> from youth to <a href="http://www.methkillswyoming.org/"><font color="light&amp;height">kill</font></a> somebody that you <a href="http://www.careerteampartners.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">career</font></a> from any company <a href="http://www.landrac.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">website</font></a> is the best <a href="http://www.bueydecabeza.com/"><font color="light&amp;height">buy</font></a> if you it.
        Ndusel
    • I agree, they should be fired

      for not building their applications with the ability to move forward with technology, or not updating their apps to current standards.

      But why am I discussing this with you? You could never understand at the levels on which these discussion are held.
      :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @Mister Spock: That's the problem with vendor religion. It masks incompetence. If you cannot run an application on more than one browser type, or on more than one client type, then it is a bad solution.

        That said, this mess show just how blinded, incompetent, and downright worshipful too many IT decision makers are when it comes to Microsoft. And Microsoft itself, like any vendor, obviously does _nothing_ to rectify the problem.
        Random_Walk
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @Mister Spock

        It all goes to tieing yourself to one solution. It's really simple.... Purchase from vendors that support multiple platforms. It's really simple.

        Your business needs to be agile. That means with everything, including your IT systems.

        Sadly way too many get locked into proprietary systems and that causes these pain points. If people were doing their jobs this would not be an issue.

        It's unfortunate that most with these issues are tied to Microsoft but that's what you get for sleeping with the devil.
        itguy08
  • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

    I can't agree with this Gartner note. It'd be a lot cheaper to just hire a few web developers to bring the code up to speed. Also maybe its time to update their web applications if they are still using it for 9 years. Bite the bullet and upgrade already.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

      @Loverock Davidson

      Agreed. They should be able to keep backwards compatibility with the old 'databases' and other things.
      Lerianis10
    • Yep, it'd be cheaper...

      @Loverock Davidson ...but sometimes these are mission-critical apps for large corporations with tight budgets, f*up bureacracies, impatient users, and time constraints. There'll be user training on new browsers, too, once the apps are upgraded. (These are often walled-garden shops, for the apps involved). You may have a payroll system, a personnel system, an equipment tracking system, a land mapping system, and all sorts of disparate systems, all on IE6, requiring expertise (coders) in a variety of areas. Ends up (including planning, training, etc.) no small task. Yes, the organization is to blame for not getting off their duffs sooner. But it is definitely pricey and risky.

      My hospital uses IE6 for its patient tracking system (among other things, I'm sure). I certainly don't want to place the hospital patients in peril of IE8 testing problems. Risky.
      fjpoblam
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @fjpoblam

        If the user interface is THE SAME (and you should damned well be able to code an application so it was exactly the same as an OLD application, just compatible with IE8+).... there is no training that would need done.

        Also, the browsers are MUCH simpler to use than IE6 today, so that whole 'retraining on different browser' is a LIE of the worst sort.
        Most people are ALREADY using IE8 AT HOME.... no reason why there should need to be any retraining in order to use it.
        Lerianis10
      • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

        @Lerianis<br><br>Except that in most cases it's not really about the interface... or training... or anything else that has to do with the end user. I bet that the app described in fjboblam's comment has some dependencies on application components (e.g. ActiveX controls, Java) that are simply not compatible with IE8 because of some system level changes Microsoft did in the browser (if you don't believe me, just go to www.netlabels.com and try to run their Print Labels application and see how that works in your IE8). This is not an issue of laziness, or unwillingness to modernize. It is an issue of conflicting priorities, time and budget... and it's good that enterprises have some solutions available to carry them through the transition.
        Alon Yaffe
    • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

      @Loverock Davidson: You obviously have never worked in the enterprise. It is not "a lot cheaper" to overhaul an inherited ERP, CRM, or other internal mission-critical system that cost millions of dollars in the first place. This is doubly true when you consider that the stuff was likely written in deprecated and spaghetti-like MSFT-oriented code, with no regard for best practices.

      The disruptions alone are expensive, let alone the cost of consultants, programmers, and the often cobbled-together off-the-shelf solutions that comprise that overhaul.

      But sure - keep preaching your gospel from the passenger seat of that black-and-white VW Beetle you apparently work out of. ;)
      Random_Walk
  • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

    I think that those still using IE6 after over 4 years since IE8 came out have scr?wed themselves up. They could be paying dearly for pinning the development on an important application on a specific version [or browser]. Actually it's more like 5 years - add a year while IE7 was in beta and RC modes. Pure incompitence.

    Management [well almost all] were smart enough to get away from Fortran and COBOL. I guess management's level of intelligence has dropped quite a bit.
    Gis Bun
    • RE: Gartner: Existing options for migrating from IE 6 are too pricey, risky

      @Gis Bun Sorry, FORTRAN and COBOL are still thriving. Maybe not in your world, but in real business, where thousands of transactions a second happen (think First Data and its processing of nearly every credit card transaction in the US) COBOL is still there. The current shipping versions of PeopleSoft ERP (not exactly a small player) also still have COBOL in them.

      FORTRAN is still in use in the scientific communities, at least in petrochemicals.

      Yes, in your world of start-ups running web apps that only need to serve a few, and a few bugs are OK, they might be gone, but in the world of billions of dollars moving about with no room for error, they are still around.
      grant@...