I'm an IT manager for a midsized company that runs Linux and Windows servers and Windows on the desktop. I'd like...
to move to Linux on the desktop, but my bosses aren't buying that yet. After reading some of your articles on this site, I've thinking about ways to move some pieces to alternative applications, like moving from Internet Explorer to Mozilla. Is that feasible? How would I get started? At the surface level, moving to Mozilla from IE is simple: just install it and try it out. In practice, there are some migration issues. If you have power-users, then they may have collected a lot of personal information in Internet Explorer and Outlook. This information resides on their local drives. You need to be clear whether that information is unnecessary baggage worth dumping, or whether it genuinely assists their work practices. There are migration paths for most of this data, from bookmarks to e-mail, but those paths need a dry run for your particular case.
A constraint of Mozilla is that it doesn't have extensive centralised management yet. You have IMAP, LDAP, NLTM and security support, but not yet extensive centralisation of user profiles. You can use a file server without any problem, but you need to check that your current arrangements naturally apply to Mozilla. If you're deep in the mindset of Microsoft Desktop Applications, then some of Mozilla's more obscure features may seem foreign at first.
On the plus side, there have been very few critical patches issued in Mozilla's history since 1.0 was released. You can pretty much forget about monitoring the news for Internet security flaws.
Another issue is any Website content you might maintain. If it's been created with Internet Explorer specifically in mind, then, not to put too fine a point on it, it may be awful. Such IE specific pages need to be reviewed to see if they need a little standards-oriented tidying up. The worst of them won't display at all in non-IE browsers. HTML 4.01 is the most conservative standard to aim for, and the least work. XHTML 1.0 is a nice future-proofing strategy that compliments migration to standards-compliant browsers like Mozilla (or, in fact, anything other than IE). Fortunately, both IE and Mozilla have "best guess" features that kick in for really poorly created pages. You can live with that if you don't yet want to migrate to Web standards. Such migration is inevitable, though.
Most of the above points, however, are technical. It's well established that the main cost of migration is re-training users. That's your number one issue. Perhaps soon there'll be a Mozilla version with exactly the same point-n-click workflows as Internet Explorer, but that will only happen if people like you recognise how important it is and hassle the Mozilla folk about it. Fortunately, existing browsers have quite a lot of overlap to start with. A toolbar button's much the same everywhere.
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