Apple, featured, IT, Microsoft, Product Mgmt

Dear vendor, no more “only IE supported”

22 Jun , 2011  

Thou shalt only use Internet Explorer. Gone are the days of the “one official browser” corporate IT standard. At least that’s the principle I operate under. I’ve vowed not to purchase or select a product, application or SaaS service that restricts itself to Internet Explorer, or any other single web browser.

The world of web browsers is just simply too diverse for most organizations to truly operate under a one web browser only policy, which has traditionally been Internet Explorer in most IT shops.

Why?

Users demand choice. Users have very strong preferences. Whether it’s Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer or whatever… many (most?) end users want to use the web browser of their choosing, not the browser dictated by the company or by IT.

Web access from multiple devices. If I’m on my phone, my laptop, my computer, it doesn’t matter – I want to get to all applications, sites, etc. from whatever device is in use when the need occurs.That means it could be an iPad or iPhone one moment, a Windows 7 device another, or a MacBook at another time.

More and more users aren’t running Windows (or don’t want to.) What about Linux or Mac users? Why should they have to use a remote desktop, run a virtual Windows machine locally, or use or borrow another Windows computer to access an application or site that only supports IE?

Why don’t all vendors products support the most commonly used web browsers?

Supporting multiple browsers means adding code specific to browsers, supporting multiple versions of each browser, dealing with the myriad of browser idiosyncrasies, exponential testing variations, and ultimately added cost to create and support products. Having designed and built commercial web based software products, I know it’s hard and complex. While I sympathize with vendors, users don’t. If they prefer to use Chrome, Safari or Firefox, well… they expect your site, application or service to support their browser of choice.

It used to be acceptable for a product to start out only supporting a single browser, most often IE, and then add support for additional browsers further down the product roadmap. Not any more. Users expect products to at least support IE, Firefox and Safari, on Windows (IE), Mac and Linux platforms with product version 1.0. Chrome also has a loyal following.

My recommendation is bite the bullet and design for multi-browser support right up front. It’s much easier to do as you incrementally add features, versus retrofitting an entire product 2, 3 or more years down the road. And you won’t be facing the negative cost-benefit dilemma of retrofitting multi-browser support vs. adding features needed to make sales or customers happy. By the time you get to that point, you’ll be so proficient at cross-browser support, you’ll be rockin-and-rollin at creating new features that also work across browsers.

Apple, featured, Hardware

MacBook Air refresh coming soon? Will MacBook Air dominate? With Mac OS X Lion?

16 Jun , 2011  

Speculation around the MacBook Air refresh is at a fevered pitch. It seems the speculation around every move by Apple has become a constant. I’m waiting on the expected MacBook Airs as part of a company computer refresh.

I’m guessing the specs around the new MacBook Air will receive a respectable bump up with the move to Intel’s new Sandy Bridge CPU. Performance improvements are anticipated to be up to a 17% gain over Nehalem generation CPUs and embedded Intel graphic performance is said to double. Thunderbolt high speed I/O support is assumed but it’s rumored the Airs won’t ship until they can include the Mac OS X Lion release.

What I find most interesting is speculation by Chris Whitmore (via an AppleInsider article) that MacBook Airs could be as much as 50% of Apple’s laptop sales at 1.5 million MacBook Airs sold per quarter. I actually think this might not be that far off of a prediction. Here’s why.

In helping users determine what Mac would best suit their work, a surprising number lean towards a MacBook Air (especially the anticipated new models.) Not just travel-heavy users, but even the more technical population. I also hear some users choose the MacBook Air instead of an iPad, given the 11″ Air is fairly close in size and weight — why not opt for a full computer and keyboard for the modest size and weight increase.