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Top 9 Reasons Enterprises Should Deploy IE 9

Posted By: David Tesar
Publish Date: 03/15/2011

The final version of IE9 was released yesterday evening. With over 40 million downloads, IE9 Beta was our fastest adopted browser beta ever. Many people have already been using the Beta and RC versions of IE9 with over 2% usage share worldwide on Windows 7 while still in beta. Now is a great time to let you know the Top 9 reasons to deploy IE9:

1. Speed - More productive with the worlds fastest browser.  The engineering objective of the IE9 team was to build the world’s fastest browser based on real world web performance.  Although this is an ever-evolving space and a tough objective to achieve or claim, it shows our commitment to performance and here are some data points to consider:

  • As of March 8th, 2011, IE9 final release code was faster than any other browser (including Chrome 10, 11, Opera 11, Safari 5, and Firefox 4 Beta 12) at the Java SunSpider benchmark and is ~18x faster than IE8.
  • Since performance is truly more than benchmarks, numerous overall performance enhancements have been made in areas such as caching and Add-ons.
  • IE9 gives you a faster browsing experience by taking advantage of hardware acceleration where we often are faster than any other browser.

With employees spending increasingly more time in the browser to do their job, having a fast browser becomes important to be more productive and happy with their browsing experience.

2. Speed - Take full advantage of your hardware. IE 9’s full hardware acceleration has the potential to increase the shelf-life of your machines and improve the browsing performance of your existing machines by taking advantage of the CPU and the GPU on Windows, which is especially useful when streaming video or using web applications which are resource intensive.  Older hardware and even the same hardware using a non-or-partial-hardware-accelerated browser might not be able to even do the tasks required or do them poorly.  IE9 is a leader in this space, showing off full hardware acceleration at PDC in November 2009 and is the first code-complete browser to release this functionality to the public.  Coding browser hardware acceleration is not easy and we have a unique advantage because we also code Windows and are only supporting hardware acceleration on the Windows platform.

3. Clean - Streamlined UI and integration with W7 – IE9 has numerous UI enhancements which give your users more productive and satisfying browsing experiences. We’ve streamlined IE9 to give you more real estate within the browser frame than any other browser available. Notifications have also been revamped in IE9 to be clearer and less intrusive in your users browsing experience. Your websites and web apps feel like native applications on your PC. IE9 has seamless integration with Windows 7, allowing you or your company to increase productivity through features like Jump Lists, Aero Snap, and pinned sites. One Box makes it easy for users to search and navigate websites. Tab enhancements like being able to tear-off tabs and having an option for a separate tab row make navigation and organization a snap.

4. Trust – Corporate Privacy. You might have thought privacy features were only for individuals, but think again. It is possible for third-parties to gather information about where users in your company are going on the web, assuming they can figure out what IP addresses are coming from your company. IE9 includes support for Tracking Protection, which allows you to limit the browser’s communication with certain third-party websites to help keep your information private. Search providers can also track keystrokes as you type in search boxes when they provide search suggestions. With IE9, the privacy of the keystrokes that you enter into IE9 One Box for search are by default kept private – unless you choose to enable search suggestions. Both tracking protection and search provider settings can be locked down and configured via group policy.

5. Trust - Most secure browsing.  With an increasing usage of the web and number of web-based attacks, browser security is extremely important to protect your organization. Although this is tough to definitively prove, I personally believe IE9 is the most secure browser which exists today.  Let’s consider some IE9 security information on why I believe this:

  • IE9 continues to be built using Microsoft’s Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL), which is a recognized industry standard to help create secure software from its creation. 
  • In the most recent NSS Labs test, IE9 protects users against 99% of socially engineered malware while second place comes in at 19% with Firefox 3.6.  This is a true testament to the effectiveness of our SmartScreen Filter (included in IE 8 & 9) and Application Reputation technology (New in IE9, which is why we see the 9% increase from IE8).  The SmartScreen Filter takes advantage the cloud to protect users against phishing and malware regardless of whether or not local client anti-malware software is installed and has blocked 1.3 Billion phishing and malware attacks since IE8.

  • IE9 is the only browser to provide you with free comprehensive and tested security policy templates using the Security Compliance Manager (IE8 version will work with IE9 and IE9 update is in the works).  This allows you the option to easily custom-harden all of the browsers in your organization programmatically using GPOs, DCM packs, or SCAP.
  • In September 2010, IE8 was recognized as the recipient of 2010 Excellence in Online Trust Award from the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) which shows our leadership and innovation in the browser security space.  This non-profit organization gave us this award due to IE8’s “… innovation and leadership including support of P3P, first browser to support Extended Validation SSL Certificates, first to integrate dynamic anti-phishing and anti-malware protection, protection from Cross Site Scripting Exploits and integration of privacy controls including InPrivate Browsing and InPrivate Filtering.”
  • There are numerous security features which other browsers still simply don’t have out-of-the-box.  Outside of the SmartScreen technologies mentioned above, there are features like ActiveX Filtering, Per-Site Active-X, Cross Site Scripting (XSS) and Click Jacking protection, Domain highlighting,  and we also take advantage of native Windows security features like ASLR, DEP, and SafeSEH.

6. Trust - Easy to Deploy.  IE has more officially Microsoft supported deployment options than any other browser, making it possible to deploy inside your organization in minutes.  You can deploy IE9 using Windows Update, WSUS, SCCM, group policy, a network folder or even quickly slipstreamed into your existing Windows Vista or Windows 7 images.  Furthermore, we support creating a customized IE9 install package in the form of a Windows Installer (*.MSI) file using the Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK).

7. Trust - Comprehensive Management. Microsoft gives enterprises full granular control over IE in your organization with more than 1500 group policies (see this Excel file) to enforce any configurations you want.  If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of options and want to harden the browser, we make this much easier by providing security baselines in a free Security Compliance Manager toolkit (see Most Secure Browsing section).  Finally, you can create initial browser preferences using the IEAK (see Easy to Deploy section) as opposed to enforcing security settings with group policy.

8. Trust - The Most Compatible Browser. IE is the only browser which officially supports backwards compatibility for IE browser and document modes, emulating some functionality as early as IE6.  Incompatible sites can be easily rendered in other modes by the end user clicking on the compatibility mode icon (in red box below) when you visit a website or getting granular with how to display the current page by pressing F12 for the developer tools (seen below).  Enterprises can programmatically places sites into compatibility mode through group policy.

Since being the most compatible is also about current and future compatibility, it’s important to note IE9 is extremely committed to web standards.  This means that when you write your websites to work with IE9, it should work with other browsers as well who have adopted those industry standards for things like CSS 3 and HTML 5.  The thousands of accepted test cases we have submitted working with the W3C and Ecma web standards bodies is one testament to our commitment.  Furthermore, IE9 has significant and numerous additions over IE8 to support HTML 5.  HTML 5 is here now and will continue to be increasingly important as the web develops; it’s not a question of if your company will need a HTML 5 compliant browser, but when.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out IE has the longest support life cycle of any other browser I know.  If you make a decision to use IE  for your web application, Microsoft will support that version of IE for 24 months after the final service pack is released where the browser is bundled with the OS or at the end of the OS’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first.  To put this into context, this means that if you wrote an application only compatible with IE8 (which is not as likely since IE 8 supports standards), you would have at a minimum of 2 years of support from 2/22/2011 (when Win 7 SP1 released) with your web application.  This is nearly four years of support since IE 8 was released and potentially longer if another Windows 7 service pack comes out (which we don’t know yet)!  This gives your organization plenty of time to migrate potential incompatible applications.  In comparison, Firefox 3.0 would have given you a total lifespan of 21 months and Google Chrome has been releasing “major” versions of the browser anywhere from 1 to 6 months and if you want more security updates then you need to upgrade to the latest major version.

9. Trust - Extensive Migration Support.  Using a web-standards-based browser like IE8 or 9 helps to drastically minimize the number of potential web application incompatibilities when you upgrade to a newer version of the browser.  However it is foolish to assume any browser upgrade (not just IE) will never break your applications, if for nothing else like add-ons, then simply on the fact that standards evolve.  Microsoft provides numerous resources for you to migrate older versions of IE over to IE9.  Although all of the information below is not a direct benefit of IE9, I think it’s important to consider the commitment you have from Microsoft to support your company in moving to the newest version of the browser.  Here are some of the free tools Microsoft provides to help you with your migrations:

  • Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) toolkit – the Internet Explorer migration assessment inventories your environment and reports on deployed web browsers, Microsoft ActiveX controls, and add-ons, and then generates a migration assessment report and proposal.
  • Internet Explorer Compatibility Toolkit (IECTT) – is part of the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) which helps identify application and website compatibility issues on IE7 or 8. The IECTT identifies your web-based issues and help customers lower their costs for application compatibility testing, prioritize their applications, and deploy Internet Explorer more quickly.
  • Expression Web Super Preview – provides a high-fidelity rendering of how pages will look on different browsers like IE6, 7, 8, 9, Firefox, or Safari to help you debug your websites for cross-browser compatibility.

Outside of tools, we have in-person migration support classes and online training.  We also have free IT Pro and Developer online support forums and paid online or phone support options.  If all of this is just too much for you or your company to handle alone, Microsoft has professional advisory services and partners who specialize in these migrations and can take over all or part of the process. Finally, if you want to upgrade to IE9 immediately and need to buy some time while you upgrade your incompatible web applications, you can virtualize IE6 or 7 via Terminal Services, XP Mode, or Med-V.

Download Internet Explorer 9