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A Look inside Corporate Internet Browser Preferences

The idea of a standardized browser is not a new one. For quite a while Microsoft Explorer had a stranglehold on internet browsing in the work environment. Over the last few years that hold slipped due to a combination of things such as technical issues, the rise in popularity of Firefox and Chrome, and the steady infusion of Apple into the corporate world.

With the release of the Forrester Report, a Microsoft commissioned study, there has been a bit of a renewed interest in the topic; which of course, was one of the primary goals by Microsoft in having this report created and released.

So what do you really need to know about the idea behind using a standardized browser? A couple things are important to note because this is an important idea that can affect the bottom line of a company.

The Almighty Dollar

The biggest note from the study was showing that there is an increased cost for companies that do not enforce using a de facto browser in your company. Some companies cater to requests from employees and allow them to use a non-standard browser if they wish. On the surface that might not seem like a big deal, but the larger your company is, the more it will affect your IT budget.

Forrester's report came back with about what you would expect; a whopping ninety-sex percent of companies surveyed encourage standardization but only about half actually enforced the concept.

Businesses that do allow multiple browsers typically experience up to a 20% increase in spending. For those using custom web apps there is an expected cost addition of $4000 to make sure it works with more than one browser.

While the obvious push by Microsoft in creating this study is to persuade certain groups to either start or continue using Explorer only, this report does point out possible costs associated with allowing multiple browsers.

The cost really comes into play when software updates occur

and compatibility issues pop up. By using multiple browsers there can be issues of compatibility between applications and security. As hardly anyone provides updates on the same schedule that can mean more scrambling and hours spent troubleshooting.

Another option, not mentioned in the report, would be to invest in browser management tools that would allow IT groups the ability to control things easily.

Hey, You Forgot Something!

Of course what was not included in the report and should have been, if it was going to be universally useful, was the mobile aspect. When you think of browser compatibility the thought process should extend beyond the desktop and into the realm of tablet and smart phones.

Companies will be using mobile technology more and more. Some level of standardization will need to be put in place from an IT perspective. Ideally you want applications that can be used on multiple platforms and with standardization it will cost you a lot less money. Surprisingly Microsoft didn't explore this topic. That seems odd because they are in the perfect position to consider mobile as the Windows Phone 8 system has extensive support for HTML5 already and there are plenty of great tablets like the Dell Latitude that are using Windows 8 to make the product more appealing to schools and businesses.

The Bottom Line

Standardization in the business realm makes sense. The larger you are as a company, the more it will cost over time if there are too many options given to employees. As technology grows a business needs to think of the best way to not only utilize it for their needs, but also to do it in a cost-effective manner; that is considered smart business. Of course this concept is also something that app developers should keep an eye on because it will affect them as well. If more companies start standardizing then it can become easier to target your apps.

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