Mad Computer Scientists at VMWare Introduce Zombie IE6


I’ll admit to being somewhat of a Microsoft apologist, but as a web developer, I couldn’t help being a little giddy about the idea that the venerable Internet Explorer 6 finally seemed to be on the ropes thanks to the one-two punch of Google officially dropping support for the 10+ year old browser and Microsoft’s finally releasing an upgrade to Windows that was conceivably worth the effort to ditch XP. Unlike previous quixotic attempts to kill it, I think this time it might take.

Maybe it is a little premature to give the eulogy considering that by some reports IE6 still is still the second most used browser as recently as last month, but considering its accelerating decline in market share over the last two years, one can only hope.

In fact, one of the biggest IE6 holdouts on my company’s client list finally took the plunge and upgraded…to IE7. Hey, it’s at least it is progress, right?

Then I saw this little news nugget on the VMWare ThinApp blog and it gave me pause.

For those that didn’t follow that link, or didn’t make it past the odd “Web Apps are the new DLL Hell” prologue,  here’s the terrifying part:

I’m happy to report we have now have IE6 fully virtualized and working perfectly on Windows 7 32bit and 64bit.

Although getting IE6 to work “perfectly” on any version of Windows is a noteworthy accomplishment, my initial reaction to this information was not unlike what I’d expect to feel if I heard that someone cloning technology had been developed and Hitler was picked as the prototype.

"Sometimes Dead is Bettah"

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of application virtualization, and VMWare ThinApp has been instrumental in solving deployment problems for some of my applications in environments with rigorous security controls on employee workstations.

Despite how difficult it is to get someone on the phone at VMWare that has heard of ThinApp even though it has been almost two years since they acquired it, it really is a solid and easy to use virtualization platform.

You want technical support for thin what?
Are you sure you dialed the right number?

I suppose I can’t blame them for facilitating such an abomination. Keeping legacy apps alive for those who can’t bear to give up on them is, after all, a key use-case for an application virtualization platform. Like poor old Dr. Frankenstein, you have to give  mad-props for creating such an elegant workaround for  mortality, even if that workaround did maul a few villagers or their web-pages.

In fact, the ability to associate web-pages with different virtualized browser versions seems like a really cool trick… A really cool massively kludgey trick.

I just wish they didn’t sound quite so gleeful in their announcement. Can’t a fellow enjoy his schadenfreude in peace?

At least they could have made it difficult to accomplish. Even Doc Frank didn’t create an “Easy Button” for re-animating corpses, and he was allegedly almost as insane as James Carville.

Currently the process for creating a ThinApp IE6 package is a little complex…We know this is popular use case, so we’ve turned the process of capturing IE6 into a few clicks.

Sigh.

On the other hand, maybe I need a more optimistic perspective. I suppose an argument could be made that the availability of this technology could promote the use of modern browsers at curmudgeonly organizations.

For example, you could argue that it is safe to upgrade everyone’s browser because of application virtualization for those ancient internal apps that no one has budget to update.

Selling it to management shouldn’t be too difficult…

“Application Virtualization?” I’ve never used that buzzword before, and now that my grandmother has heard of “Cloud Computing” I need something snappier to put on my PowerPoint slides. That should just fit if I take out the cloud-with-a-dollar-sign-on-it clip-art.  Let’s do it!

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