With the end of support for Internet Explorer 6 looming, Google has introduced new tools for business users to switch between the latest version of Chrome and legacy browsers as far back as IE6 when using custom web applications.
The extensions, released on Wednesday, are named Internet Explorer Legacy Browser Support (LBS) and Chrome Legacy Browser Support, and offer a fix for businesses stuck on old browsers as well as those who use new browsers that don't support old internal-facing web applications.
Chrome LBS, which requires Chrome 26 or higher, allows administrators to specify which URLs, used for custom web applications, should launch an older version of Chrome. Google only introduced Chrome for business in 2010, so it's likely to be a smaller legacy problem than for enterprises running web applications in IE6 on Windows XP, which is heading towards end of support on 8 April 2014.
For those users, there's IE LBS. The feature will open older versions of Internet Explorer when needed for legacy web apps, and Chrome for newer ones — providing a more direct path to Chrome for enterprise users that depend on IE for legacy software. IE LBS works only with Chrome that has LBS activated, and supports IE6 through to IE10.
"When you install this add-on with Internet Explorer (IE), Chrome and IE will switch to the best browser, depending on which website or app is being accessed," Google notes on the support page.
"IT managers simply define which sites should launch from Chrome into an alternate browser, and then set this Chrome policy for all employees. And while Chrome Frame helps developers build apps for older browsers, Legacy Browser Support lets IT admins of organizations embrace the modern web," said Cyrus Mistry, Chrome for business senior product manager.
While Microsoft has long been urging businesses to upgrade to Windows 7 due to the support cut-off deadline for XP, the OS does not support IE6 and hence the legacy web applications that run on it. Companies like Browsium have popped up to help that migration along by enabling IE6-dependent apps to run later IE versions that are supported by Windows 7.
Google also released new cloud-based management tools for Google Apps for Business admins to set desktop policies via Chrome on user devices on Wednesday.
"Now, whether employees are working from the company's desktop or their personal laptop, they will be able to access default applications, custom themes, or a curated app web store when they sign-in to Chrome with their work account. With cloud-based management, IT administrators can customize more than 100 Chrome policies and preferences for their employees from the Google Admin panel," said Mistry.