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Why enterprises like Internet Explorer?

Is it because the default browser in Windows?

Support ActiveX?

But it does not cope with W3 standards, mainly IE 6, 7, 8

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closed as off topic by Paul, KronoS, random Jan 30 '13 at 4:21

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What do you mean "like"? Enterprises that allow web browsing should actually be disallowing IE use if their IT department has a brain. Or are you talking about enterprise software that runs inside IE? –  NReilingh Jan 30 '13 at 2:58

4 Answers 4

Many companies have mission critical intranet applications and other systems that rely on a browser or on the integrated browser in other programs. Companies want to keep costs for new software, maintenance and user support low. So there are several points that favored IE:

  • It's the default browser. You do not need to install additional software, upgrade it etc. It is can updated automatically, and is updated on a schedule that companies can work with. Firefox for example updates on random dates and with changes that tech support cannot preview. It does not come with windows, either.
  • Some years ago you would not see significant changes in IE before you upgrade your whole operating system. That was very good for companies that did not like a sudden change in how the intranet worked.
  • When running a intranet system, often you program it so that it fits the current environment. If you know every one runs the same version of IE, you can use all it's features, no matter if those are a common or liked standard in the outside internet. This causes you to lick yourself into IE since switching would break a lot of stuff.
  • Since MS offers certification for their software (MSCE), people can pass a test, and have a good base to get a job. You can hire people where you lazily can assume a certain knowledge of the employee regarding the subject. So a lot of people who write these software packages are used to work with MS products, and the Internet Explorer.
  • Some things are ONLY able with internet explorer. Specially embedded browsers in other applications are impossible to switch. When you run large ERP systems for example, components sometimes rely on the integration of IE with Office applications and the windows system.
  • Companies cannot switch easily from one system to another if a certain amount of their system is unknown to work properly with alternative browsers or if they have to change many things at once. It is simply too much work and hence to expensive. When the companies are large enough or the business 24/7 mission critical, it can happen that they run with 20-30 year old systems. Specially banks and airline booking systems have these issues.
  • For many companies it was - for many years - more important that the intranet applications work than to have a secure access to the outside internet. People only since recent times rely more and more on outside cloud storage and foreign hosted systems in larger companies. The security issues of IE were seen as more an issue of private users than for corporations.
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One of the key reasons is that Microsoft allows enterprises to install patches themselves, giving the company time to ensure that the patch does not break all of their internal websites.

Additionally, unlike Firefox and Google Chrome, Microsoft clearly notes which patches are security patches versus functionality patches (which always come with a major version change from Microsoft). This means that enterprises that use Internet Explorer won't ever get into a situation where all of their Intranet stopped working over the weekend because of a patch pushed out to Google Chrome or Firefox without the IT network admin having checked and authorised the patch.

And finally, one of the key reasons why Microsoft is liked by Enterprise is that if you pay for support, Microsoft has an obligation to help you when stuff goes wrong. With Firefox and Google Chrome, you're on your own. To a big company that reads as: "With Microsoft, the risk of something going wrong is a quantifiable risk, with Google Chrome and Firefox there is an unlimited risk".

That's why enterprises (particularly large enterprises) by and large prefer IE.

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Firefox now has ESR (extended service release) only security patches without new functionality, Firefox 10, 17, 24, ... have ESR version. –  linquize Jan 30 '13 at 4:32

Yes, because Internet Explorer is the default browser in Windows, a lot of older websites and software are written specifically for it, so businesses and other large institutions often standardize on it. This question doesn't fit SuperUser too well, though.

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The idea that corporations are resistant to change is conjecture, but I think a good one. From IE3-5 they actually innovated (surprising to many, myself included).

1) Internet Explorer 3 was the first browser to implement CSS (surprising, huh?) Also the Java applet and ActiveX.

2) IE4 was the first browser with an embeddable rendering engine and Dynamic HTML and was cross platform, holding something like 60% of the market.

3) IE5 was the first implementation of AJAX (MS invented it, or at least the foundation for it) [Though the term wasn't coined until later].

Since then, they really haven't innovated and IE 6/7/8 were all terrible. IE 9/10 have gotten closer... but still, probably the resistance to change. Legacy support is huge in many businesses.

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