ifacethoughts

Firefox Still Not Popular With Corporates

So Eric Lai reports (via slashdot). The article cites some people suggesting that this is so because Firefox does not woo the corporates into using it. I wonder if that will help. The traditional reason given for not using Firefox has been that the company has a lot of IE specific applications. No wonder many have still not upgraded even to IE7, in spite of Microsoft making it a critical update. So, Mozilla might not be the only one to blame here.

However, I think there is a bigger corporate culture here, which prevents adoption of such tools. More than the support factor, companies are worried that they might given more than enough power in hands of their employees. Yes, that is right. Tools like Firefox give a lot of freedom to its user, installing addons, changing themes, which pushes the machines to a certain limit. And companies do not like it. They feel that they are secure when they have everything under their control by curbing freedom of the employees.

And for this they build policies, most of which, in my opinion, are stupid. I visited a client once and was not allowed to connect to their network because they could not run their anti-virus tool on my machine. And guess why they could not; yes, it ran Linux! In environments which are so tied to a certain platform, using Firefox is a far fetched thing.

I can see what corporates might demand from Mozilla if Firefox is to be used in their environments. It is not only about deployment tools, but also about giving some kind of layered permissioning system. Not allow the employee to install addons, but allow some executive to do so, and then allow a centralized network installation of Firefox, which overrides every individual employee’s preferences. I wonder if people behind Firefox would even agree to this.

As for IE specific applications, I think corporates are too lenient towards development of their internal applications. And then these constraints are created to compensate for them. Somehow value and productivity are left far behind while discussing these things, and managing tools is given more importance than actually using them.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Cyrris said:

    Since I graduated from uni 6 months ago, I’ve taken up a job in IT for a resasonably large aged care organization. It’s surprisingly hi-tech for aged care, and I have a lot of computers to take care of. The reason Firefox has never been considered for us is definitely just the support factor – we give quite a lot of freedom to what our employees can have or do on their computers.

    All of our servers run Windows Server 2003. Our email system is Microsoft Exchange – it has a webmail section which barely works in Firefox at all, though if you use IE6 or IE7, it’s like running MS Outlook in your browser window. Then there’s the fact IE is already installed on the new computers we buy, or any computer we have to rebuild. Many are laptops of slightly differing models, so we use Lenovo’s own rebuilder because it has the required drivers. That just saves time – we have two IT guys servicing a few hundred computer users here, so things which aren’t crucial rarely get done. Every additional application means more education needed for computer-illiterate staff, and in the end it’s just not worth the hassle.

    Microsoft is too thoroughly entrenched, at least in the company I work for, to switch to anything else. I would imagine many other companies would be similar. Plus, from the manager’s perspective, who cares what the staff are browsing with on the web from work? As long as it lets them get their work done, it’s good enough, right? No point wasting IT’s valuable time to change something that was working reasonably well anyway.

    I’ve been a massive advocate of Firefox since it was first dubbed that at v0.8, but it just doesn’t present a good business case, at least where I work.

  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Cyrris, thanks for that perspective. But is the support factor so important for a browser? I agree with you that thinks like Outlook Web Access might not work on Firefox, they were built for IE, that is where I think companies are too lenient towards their internal sites. There is no reason why people should not able to access their web mail from Firefox.

    I think your point that moving to Firefox is not seen as a crucial thing and there is not enough motivation to move away from IE which comes in by default. I have witnessed some scenarios where companies have burned their hands and then moved away, though this might not happen in majority of cases.

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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