The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has told staff it will shortly be upgrading their desktop browser from version 6 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer software to version 7.
The bank has been running on IE6 for a number of years as part of version 3 of its desktop standard operating environment (SOE). However, it emailed staff recently to let them know they could look forward to IE7 as part of SOEv4, which is to be rolled out progressively from March. CBA has about 38,000 staff in total.
IE7 is a more modern browser than IE6, introducing new features such as the tabbed browsing made popular in rival browsers like Firefox, an anti-phishing filter and enhanced support for web standards. Microsoft reworked a number of core areas for IE7’s release — such as the rendering engine and the way the software handles security.
However, IE7 was released in October 2006 and has since been superceded by version 8 of the Microsoft browser, which was released in March 2009. Internet Explorer 9 is currently in development.
The bank may not be that unusual when it comes to what would be likely to be percieved by many consumers and early technology adopters as a slow approach to upgrading its browser technology. For example, a report by research house Forrester found in May 2009 that 60 percent of companies still used IE6 as their main browser at that point, with IE7 pulling in a respectable 39 percent at that point, and Firefox sitting at 18.2 percent.
It’s understood CBA needed to test a plethora of applications for compatibility with IE7 before starting to rollout the upgrade — a common problem in certain sectors, such as in financial services and some areas of government.
There have been relatively few high profile deployments of Firefox within Australian corporates, although it is common to hear anecdotal evidence that users are requesting the open source browser be installed by IT departments.
The bank’s new standard operating environment will be again based on Windows XP, although CommBank is testing Windows 7. In April 2009 the bank had said it had examined Windows 7, but was yet to formally test what was then the beta version of the software. The final version of Windows 7 was released late last year.
One further upgrade to make it into the new SOE will be welcome in some of the bank’s branches. It’s understood a lack of modern broadband connections into some locations had made delivering online video based on Adobe Flash an issue. The bank had previously disabled the software in certain situations — such as if a branch was using an old ISDN connection for internet access.
However, it will now enable Flash across its operations following gradual network upgrades to bring the old connections up to speed. A CommBank spokesperson said the bank had “nothing to announce” when asked to comment for this article.
Image credit: Microsoft