Browsium, a Redmond company run by a team of former Microsoft managers, has developed a new tool that lets companies assign certain websites to specific browsers on user computers — making sure that older sites and apps open in browsers that support them, which often means older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

The tool, called Browsium Catalyst, was released as a beta this week, and it’s set to debut officially early next year. It recognizes one of realities of the modern workplace: Corporate users often have multiple browsers installed on their machines, and they often open legacy sites required for work in a browser that renders the page improperly or insecurely.

Catalyst is a behind-the-scenes tool that IT administrators can use as a “traffic cop,” designating specific sites to open automatically in a specific browser. For example, even if Chrome is set as the default on a particular computer, companies might need to make sure that some sites and apps open in Internet Explorer 7 or a virtualized installation of IE6.

“We view this is as a way for IT administrators to buy some time until they figure out their remediation strategy for these legacy apps,” said Browsium president Gary Schare, who previously led the Internet Explorer product management team.

It works with Chrome 22 or later, Firefox 15 or later, and Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8 and 9 on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. The beta doesn’t support Windows 8 or Internet Explorer 10.

The company separately offers a technology called Browsium Ion that uses specialized settings and other tricks to let companies run legacy apps in newer versions of Internet Explorer.

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  • Khan Klatt

    Sounds good in theory, but I’ve been able to use many apps successfully that claimed to “require” IE after merely changing the User Agent to IE.

    It’s already a travesty that programmers and developers lock out user agents that “work just fine, thank you”. To now extend that clueless over-protectionism to IT administrators makes the problem worse.

    Far more interesting would be using a proxy that can translate IE only features into an equivalent (or show a panel that says “this ActiveX feature only works on IE”) letting the rest of the functionality through. That way people can use modern browsers that work, and get exposed to the 80% of the functionality they would have been able to use on their browser of choice anyway.

    That’s not to say that this product has no value– rather, I pity the unfortunate situation in places where it does.

    • Michael Hazell

      I never really got the idea of ActiveX controls. No other browsers use them, so market share is not going to take off.

  • Mike_Acker

    if they had handled the HTML Version level code properly they wouldn’t have to deal with this tee hee

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