Better Browsers update

A little while ago I posted about a little survey I had set up using Google Docs, which aimed to find out about what browsers public sector folk are using, and what problems they have been running into as a result, especially where web 2.0 bits are concered.

I’m pleased to say that there have been quite a few responses, and probably would have had were it not for the fact that quite a few government folk are blocked from using Google Docs with their work machines. I don’t know how to get WordPress to do an eye-rolling smilie, but if I did, it would be here.

Indeed this sparked quite a bit of discussion on the UK & Ireland eDemocracy mailing list, with various horror stories being shared. Some of it is quite frightening, including this message sent out by a local authority IT department:

An increasing number of PCs and laptops have been found with internet browser toolbars such as Yahoo or Google installed. These toolbars should never be installed on [our] computers as they are not required for business purposes, can significantly reduce the performance of your machine and can stop the remote distribution of critical software and security updates.

Still, I am compiling all the results as they come in, and will have a think about what to do with it all. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. Almost all of those who have responded would like to be a part of a campaign of some description, which gives further fuel for thought. I’ve started tagging these posts with ‘govgetfirefox’ so if anyone else is writing or bookmarking related stuff, it might be cool to start collecting it together that way.

If you haven’t already taken the survey, please do.

In the meantime, as I started typing this, Google Reader spat this post from Read/WriteWeb at me:

ComputerWorld is reporting that Firefox is set to hit 20% market share next month according to metrics firm Net Applications. In some communities, Firefox is already well beyond the 20% mark. W3Counter’s global web stats, for example, puts Firefox usage at closer to 29% and over 50% of ReadWriteWeb readers use Firefox.

And Firefox isn’t resting on their laurels. The Mozilla Foundation is planning a major release push for Firefox 3, which is expected to drop this month. Firefox is gearing up to set a world download record by encouraging all 175 million users of the browser to upgrade in a single day. They’re actually encouraging users to host download day parties, with nearly 200 planned already even without a firm release date.

I’d really like to know the reasons – the real reasons – why, bearing all this in mind, FireFox isn’t at least available as an alternative to Internet Explorer. FireFox is quicker, more secure, more useful. It’s better. Why can’t we have it?!

4 thoughts on “Better Browsers update”

  1. I think corporate IT are often nervous about open source per se – where’s the support? How will people be trained? If anyone on the internet can access the source code, won’t the application be easier to exploit? It’s one of the reasons that other open source tools (operating systems, CMS etc) don’t get more traction in corporate environments – until a major vendor decides to offer a service around it. If IBM offered a flavour of Firefox, maybe it would seem more palatable…

    It’s hard to explain just how much more productive I feel in Firefox plus the Web Developer Toolbar and my del.icio.us buttons installed, compared to a locked-down, vanilla IE6 install. But to IT ears, that just sounds like a whine – what’s wrong with the browser 75% of the world uses?

  2. Come on Dave you know exactly why firefox is not used

    Microsoft and government are one. firefox is not going to bother with EU procurement.

    Until government can procure openly and for what is best for the business, not what is best for vested interests, firefox will stay away

  3. Thanks both, interesting views. I wouldn’t mind tracking down a couple of public sector IT guys, or network admins, to see where they are coming from. Are they really risk-averse killjoys? Or are they working under other pressures that mean they have to keep their systems locked down?

    I’ve raised this discussion over at Public Sector Forums and am getting some interesting feedback there. It’ll all go into the melting pot. What I am actually going to do with it all, I haven’t a clue I must say.

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