Adoption to Windows 7 is accelerating and migrations from prior versions of Windows to Windows 7 are really starting to pick up steam. One significant impediment to migrating to Windows 7 is the lack of native support for Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) on Windows 7. Many enterprises still rely on internal “home grown” or legacy web applications that are designed to work specifically with IE6 to conduct their day-to-day business. A complete migration to Windows 7 without support for these IE6 web applications is not possible or would greatly hamper employee productivity. Fortunately, Symantec End-Point Virtualization is providing a solution based on its Symantec Workspace Virtualization technology that provides native support for IE6 on Windows 7
Why Are People Still Using IE6?
The first browser to ship as part of Windows was IE6. As the army of Windows developers began to transition native windows applications to the web the natural course was to use IE6 as the new interface to these applications. In these early days of the Internet browser many standards were being proposed with each web browser vender proffering their own approach to how the browser could become the new face for applications. Microsoft, with IE6, was no exception and prescribed its own way of building applications to its developer community. Long story short, this resulted in many of the first big wave of corporate applications to be tied tightly to the IE6 way of doing things. While the overall browser market share of IE6 usage is steadily declining, it is still only second to IE8 in overall browser market share ( see: http://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=3 ) at 17.17% overall market share in June of 2010.
The solution to moving beyond IE6 seems obvious; simply upgrade these legacy applications to work with current browsers. Unfortunately, there are challenges to this approach. The cost of re-implementing these web applications to work with current technology is prohibitive. In some cases, the original implementers of the systems that are tied to IE6 are no longer available to port the applications. The maxim of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may also come into play as some of these applications have been in use for over nine years. The cost, pain and inconvenience of porting the applications and perhaps retraining a large workforce to use a new interface don’t justify upgrading the application. The bottom line is that for all its flaws, IE6 is going to be around for several years to come.
Solutions for Supporting IE6 on Windows 7
Microsoft has recognized that many customers will still require the use of IE6 on Windows 7 and have included “Windows XP Mode” as a solution. This is a virtual operating system environment based on Microsoft's Virtual PC technology and is also a mechanism for opening Windows XP applications from within Windows 7. In short, when the use of IE6 is desired, an entire Windows XP virtual machine must be loaded into memory before IE6 can be used. The drawbacks of excessive load time, increased demands on system resources (both memory and CPU processing) and the requirement to maintain two desktop operating systems per user (Windows 7 and an instance of Windows XP running as a virtual machine) make this solution untenable for many corporate customers.
Symantec’s solution to this Windows 7 migration dilemma is to make IE6 available as a virtual application layer that runs on the Symantec Workspace Virtualization (SWV - http://www.symantec.com/business/workspace-virtualization ) technology.
The Answer to Legacy IE6 Web Application Support on Windows 7
Running IE6 as a virtual application layer on Symantec Workspace Virtualization provides the perfect solution for enterprises that wish to migrate to Windows 7 immediately. Virtual IE6 runs within a light-weight application virtualization container which allows it to run as a native application on Windows 7 with full visibility to system components and services such printing, drag and drop, and ActiveX controls as well as browser add-ons such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, Java and Microsoft Media player plus many more. In additional to running as a native application it also provides the protections provided by the virtualization container in which it runs. Browser exploits such as installing unwanted software or add-ons, file system or registry corruption can all be immediately removed with the “virtual application reset” capability of SWV. All application installations, file system and registry writes are made within a read / write containment area. If something happens to a virtual application running within SWV, a simple virtual application reset can be issued which removes all operations made to this containment area and reverts the application to its original, pristine state.
Deploying Virtual IE6 within the Enterprise
Deploying Virtual IE6 to desktop systems is made easy by using Symantec Workspace Streaming (SWS - http://www.symantec.com/business/workspace-streaming ) or Symantec Client Management Suite (CMS -http://www.symantec.com/business/client-management-suite ). SWS is an excellent solution for cases where real-time, on-demand streaming of the IE6 virtual application layer to client desktop systems is desired. CMS is an industry-leading solution for providing scalable software deployment to the enterprise. The combination of SWV with these software deployment mechanisms provides all the components needed for a seamless migration to Windows 7.
How to get Started with Virtual IE6
Virtual IE6 is available immediately here on Symantec Connect.
This release of Virtual IE6 is supported on Windows 7 – 32-bit and 64-bit.
Requirements for Virtual IE6 on Windows 7 include:
1. SWV 6.1 SP1 or later available at the following link: https://www4.symantec.com/Vrt/offer?a_id=55183 (A Symantec Account is required to access this site to download SWV).
2. SWV Layer Definition Tool available at the following link: http://www.symantec.com/connect/downloads/symantec-workspace-virtualization-layer-definition-tool
Additional information on how the SWV Layer Definition Tool is used to create a virtualized layer please see the following link: http://www.symantec.com/connect/articles/virtualizing-internet-explorer-using-swv-layer-definition-tool
A significant barrier to migrating to Windows 7 is support for legacy web applications that require IE6 in order to function properly. Symantec Workspace Virtualization provides a solution to this dilemma by providing IE6 as a virtualized application layer. The virtual application layer can be deployed real-time to client desktop systems using Symantec Workspace Streaming or deployed using Symantec Client Management Suite which provides a very scalable solution for deploying virtual IE6 to thousands of client desktop systems. Virtual IE6 is available immediately here on Symantec Connect.