Home » Technology / Science » Microsoft exploits uproar over Firefox 4′s retirement to beat IE drum

Microsoft exploits uproar over Firefox 4′s retirement to beat IE drum

June 24th, 2011 Technology / Science

Computerworld - A Microsoft executive late Thursday used the furor over Mozilla’s decision to curtail support for Firefox 4 to plead the case for Internet Explorer (IE) in the enterprise.

“I think I speak for everyone on the IE team when I say we’d like the opportunity to win back your business,” said Ari Bixhorn, director of IE at Microsoft, in a post on his personal blog. “We’ve got a great solution for corporate customers with both IE8 and IE9, and believe we could help you address the challenges you’re currently facing.”

Bixhorn addressed his open letter to John Walicki, the manager of workplace and mobility in the office of IBM’s CIO. Earlier Thursday, Walicki and others had voiced their displeasure with Mozilla’s decision to retire Firefox 4 from security support when it launched the new Firefox 5 this week.

In a comment appended to a blog maintained by Michael Kaply, a consultant who specializes in customizing Firefox, Walicki called Mozilla’s decision to end security support for Firefox 4 a “kick in the stomach.”

Walicki said his company has 500,000 corporate users on Firefox — a year ago IBM set the open-source browser as the default on all new PCs assigned to workers — and complained that the firm had just completed testing Firefox 4 and was planning to roll it out later this year as a replacement for Firefox 3.6.

“I’m now in the terrible position of choosing to deploy a Firefox 4 release with potentially unpatched vulnerabilities, reset the test cycle for thousands of internal apps to validate Firefox 5 or stay on a patched Firefox 3.6.x,” Walicki wrote.

Bixhorn was quick to exploit the opportunity.

“Although I’m in no position to question a competitor’s approach to customer engagement and support, I did want to take the opportunity to clarify the Internet Explorer team’s commitment to, and support for, our corporate customers,” said Bixhorn, who then spelled out Microsoft’s position.

“Enterprises have always been, and will always be, an important focus of ours,” Bixhorn said.

He also reminded Walicki of Microsoft’s long-standing policy to support each edition of IE “as long as the latest version of Windows that it runs on is supported.”

That means, Bixhorn continued, Microsoft will support IE9, which launched a week before Firefox 4, through January 2020.

Mozilla pulled the support plug on Firefox 4 three months after its late March debut.

Asa Dotzler, director of Firefox, has made it clear he doesn’t consider the enterprise users worth supporting.

In several comments added to a follow-up post by Kaply, Dotzler did not mince words.

“Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours,” Dotzler said. “I can’t imagine why we’d focus at all on the kinds of environments you care so much about.”

More: Browser Topic Center