browser management by ye58M2


									   Browser Management

           Brett Burridge
Computing Service, University of Essex,
           Colchester, UK
                                 Scope of presentation

•   Why have a browser policy?
•   What browsers are there to choose from?
•   Using browser administration kits
•   Modifying the browser interface
•   Browser security
•   User Agent negotiation
•   A few new developments to watch...
                                    Why have a browser policy?

• Most institutions will have a clearly defined list of
  which applications are supported (e.g. spreadsheet,
  word processor etc.)
• Should there also be a policy for web browsers?
   – Difficult to provide in depth user support for a large
     range of browser versions
   – Difficult to develop Intranet apps on a wide range of
     different systems
   – Browsers could be a big security risk, especially for
     staff working with confidential information etc.
   – May not want staff installing their own browsers - can
     lead to problems for support staff
                                                                   Browser policies

  • An increasing number of companies specify which
    browser employees should use:
                                                   Policy   No Policy





                  Jan-96 Jul-96 Jan-97 Jul-97 Jan-98 Jul-98 Jan-99

Data from ZonaResearch (
                                                                     Browser policies

  • Of those with browser policies, an increasing number
    recommend Internet Explorer:
                                                            IE   Netscape     Other





               Apr-96   Oct-96   Apr-97   Oct-97   Apr-98   Oct-98   Apr-99

Data from ZonaResearch (
                        What browsers are your users using?

• Knowing the answer to this is important...
   – Your web designer(s) will find it useful
   – You need to make sure your users don’t have obsolete
     web browsers
• Requests to web servers should contain a
  HTTP_USER_AGENT header (e.g. Mozilla/4.5 [en] (WinNT; I))
   – Most server log analysis programs (e.g. Analog)
     produce detailed browser reports
   – On IIS servers, use the Browser Capabilities component
     to automatically parse the user agent header
                                   Browser survey - overview

• Used IIS Browser Capabilities component to
  record all sessions to our main IIS NT server over
  4 days in August 1999
• Quite a small scale study (2786 sessions)

            Essex users                 Other users
                                                                  Browser survey - operating systems
                        WinNT     Win98     Win95        Win16    MacPPC   Mac68K    Linux     UNIX     Unknown
other (1598 sessions)

                          WinNT                 Win98                            Win95                     ?
essex (1188 sessions)

                        0%      10%       20%      30%      40%     50%    60%   70%     80%      90%     100%
                                            Browser survey - Internet Explorer by version
                             IE 2.0   IE 2.1          IE 3.0    IE 3.01    IE 3.01a    IE 3.02          IE 3.03
                             IE 4.0   IE 4.01         IE 4.5    IE 5.0     IE 5.01     IE 5.0b1         IE 5.0b2
other (1056 sessions)

                                                       4.01                                       5.0
essex (733 sessions)

                        0%    10%     20%       30%       40%    50%      60%    70%      80%           90%    100%
                                                                  Browser survey - Netscape by version

                            1.1     2       2.01    2.02        3      3.01      3.02     3.03   3.04    4      4.01    4.02
                            4.03    4.04    4.05    4.06        4.07   4.08      4.5      4.51   4.6     4.61
other (415 sessions)

                            3.0             4.01         4.04             4.06                     4.5           4.6
essex (445 sessions)


                       0%         10%      20%      30%          40%     50%            60%      70%     80%      90%      100%
                       Browser survey - statistics (1)

• Essex survey resembles statistics from other sites:

Data from
                       Browser survey - statistics (2)

    • Some more statistics...

Data from
                                      “Conservatism of Web users”

 • Increasing reluctance to upgrade
     – More non-computer experts using the web
     – Latest browsers don’t have any essential new features
     – Browser downloads get ever larger

Data from
                 Which web browsers are worth supporting?

                          • According to Zona Research
                            we have a “Coke and Pepsi
                            world” in the browser market.

• Is it even worth considering…
   –   Opera?
   –   New Netscapes?
   –   Lynx?
   –   Others?
                                            Netscape vs. Internet Explorer

• Netscape
   – Available for a wide range of platforms
   – Users are familiar with the product
   – But…
       • Netscape not exactly the same on all operating systems
       • Still no support for XML/Data Binding etc. etc. etc.
       • Massive loss in market share over the last 12 months
• Internet Explorer
   – Now more popular than Netscape
   – Integrates well with Windows (some applications require it)
   – Companies are choosing it for DHTML, databinding, XML support and
     other technologies
   – Good accessibility features
   – But…
       • It’s from Microsoft!
       • Only the Windows versions have all the features

•   Small download & installation. Works on old machines
•   Good accessibility features
•   Non-Netscape or Microsoft product
•   Have to pay for it
•   Difficult for people used to other browsers
•   No administration kit (and a charge for customisations)

• In early 1998 Netscape source code released
• Mozilla is the term for browsers derived from this code
• But...
   – The current version has plenty of bugs
   – Development has not gone as well as hoped. Will probably be
     another 6 months before anything substantial is produced - if
                      Palm tops/mobile phone devices

• Gimmicks or the next big thing?
   – The latest Palm VII connected organiser has wireless
     access to parts of the Internet
   – Many palmtops allow downloading of web pages
   – Mobile phones are gradually turning into web
• Essex home page in IE5 (WinNT) and AvantGo

• Another gimmick, or the future of home Internet access?
• Currently only available in USA, Canada & Japan
• Authoring for WebTV has many considerations...
                           Uses of browser administration kits

• Make simple modifications:
   – change homepage URL
   – specify web cache settings
   – install other apps at same time (e.g. Acrobat Reader)
• Also make more complex modifications:
   – specify which components to install
   – enable or disable features (e.g. enforce cache usage)
   – make “kiosk mode” browsers
• Both Netscape and IE have free administration kits
                       Availability of browser administration kits

• Netscape Customization Kit
   – Available for PC and Mac only
   – No Unix or Linux version
• Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK)
   – IEAK for Windows makes IE4/5 for Windows 3.x, 95,
     98, NT 4 and Unix.
   – IEAK for Mac makes Mac versions
   – IE5 version better than IE4 version:
      • Can save previous settings more easily
      • More can be customised (including browser’s toolbars)
      • Includes foreign language support
                   Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK)

• Synchronise to the latest version of the browser...
                  Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK)

• Specify various installation options...
                  Internet Explorer Administration Kit (IEAK)

• Customise a large number of other settings...
                       Using the Netscape Customization Kit

• Use the Configuration Editor to set program options
• The Install Builder will build the application with the
  specified options
                           Modifying the browser interface

• Modifications to both Netscape and IE quite easy
  (i.e. adding toolbar buttons & menu links)
• Simple modifications to Essex version of IE5:

                                  Preset “favorites”

                                  Customised search
                                                   Browser security

• What to do if a significant security hole is
   – Windows Update|Netscape’s SmartUpdate for
     individual machines
   – SMS or other apps for managing lots of machines
   – Don’t do anything because it doesn’t matter?
      • Most browser security problems caused by users surfing
        dubious sites
      • Automatic downloading of Excel Word files a problem (ensure
        a virus checker is installed)
      • Fake updates to programs always a problem
      • Stealing of data through “cut and paste” bugs?
                                     User Agent negotiation

• The Browser Capabilities component of IIS converts
  HTTP_USER_AGENT headers into a list of properties that
  can be used in Active Server Pages...

• Could also use JavaScript to determine many of
  these properties
                             Uses of User Agent negotiation

• Example 1 (JavaScript): Essex website only loads CSS
  in Netscape 4+ and IE4+ (with a different CSS used
  for UNIX versions of Netscape).
• Example 2 (ASP): visit Essex website in a non-English
  browser and get a link to a localised welcome page...
                                         Summary & Conclusions

• Things to consider...
   –   Should your institution have a browser policy?
   –   What browsers are your internal and external users using?
   –   Is it worthwhile moving from Netscape to Internet Explorer?
   –   If you install large numbers of browsers, would a browser
       administration kit save time and money?
• Need to investigate further…
   –   Browser security
   –   Management of plug-ins
   –   Growing use of WebTV type devices and PDA browsers
   –   The use of User Agent negotiation
                                   In the parallel session...

• Browser administration kits
   – Hands on look at Netscape/Internet Explorer kits
   – What browser features should we modify?
• Hands on look at Opera, Mozilla, PDAs, WebTV
• Should we monitor browser usage?
• Making kiosk mode browsers

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