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Inventory and Prioritization of Critical Web Sites and Add-ons

Updated: August 25, 2010

Applies To: Windows 7

With this background understanding of the compatibility changes and issues involved, it’s time to look at getting started on the path to deploying Internet Explorer 8 and Windows 7 in your organization. Depending on the internal processes in use at your organization, the specific requirements can vary for compatibility testing and deployment. Microsoft recommends thoroughly testing a sample of the most commonly used web applications and add-ons in your organization to help identify any compatibility issues before rolling out a new version of Internet Explorer.

Perhaps the most important item to note is that there is no requirement to test every application and every web page in your organization. Since many web applications reuse various types of components (for example, CSS style sheets, JavaScript libraries, and ActiveX controls), there are ways to reduce the daunting list of web facing materials you may be thinking about now. This section helps you understand areas where you can find common components, as well as prioritize a test plan. This section discusses how organizations can create an inventory plan to get the migration project started by leveraging processes that have worked successfully for other customers.

Create an Inventory of Web Sites and Add-ons

The best way to determine if applications will experience compatibility issues deploying Internet Explorer 8 is to create an inventory of critical applications and add-ons used in an organization. Please refer to the flowchart below to understand how a typical web applications inventory could be performed. As mentioned above, you are often able to test samples of websites and web applications using a variety of web technologies to determine if deploying Internet Explorer 8 will cause problems.

Web application inventory flowchart

After conducting a thorough inventory, most customers group their applications into two categories:

  1. Web Pages - most customers typically collect this list from either:

  2. ActiveX controls – most customers collect this list from:

Aggregating Web Sites into Applications

After gathering an inventory of web pages within an organization, it is important to analyze which of these pages constitute individual applications. There may be several web pages for each application that together achieve a series of tasks or desired functionality for an environment. When defining applications, gather certain information about each application that can help facilitate the migration process in the future. This includes information such as business owner, development owner, estimated lifespan, functionality enabled, and any other information relevant for your enterprise software asset management.

Prioritize and Rationalize Applications

Prioritizing applications based on their impact on the organization’s business is a necessary part of any process to understand where resources should be allocated. The value of each application should be considered today and into the future. The following list provides a sample of how to prioritize applications.

  • Unimportant: These applications do not make the cut for any investment in testing or remediation.

  • Nice to have: These applications might merit a quick pass, and if compatible, might continue to exist in the environment, but otherwise will be removed.

  • Needed but not critical: These applications are often fixed on an “as needed” basis but no investment beyond possibly smoke testing is done. Workgroups often have a mitigation computer running the old Windows XP/Internet Explorer 6 build to use these occasionally needed applications until the applications are remediated.

  • Important: These applications might merit some investment in remediation, but after a specified cap is reached, investments will stop and the fallback option will be pursued.

  • Mission critical: These applications receive significant investments, particularly around standards compliance and preparation for the future, on the assumption that they will continue to drive important outcomes for some time to come.

Be sure to review each piece of software that is appropriate, based on the value that the software brings to the organization.

Determine Compatibility for Custom or Unsupported Applications

For custom applications or in-house software that is otherwise unsupported by a vendor, there are options available without requiring massive system upgrades. To start, have IT organizations or the application owner run regression tests to identify any application compatibility issues. The following resources can help companies identify areas that will require specific modifications to work correctly with Internet Explorer 8:

For resources and information to help IT pros and web developers isolate compatibility issues, see Web Site Troubleshooting Guidance.

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