Browsium creates Catalyst to solve legacy IE problems

If the bane of your work existence is those tragicomic corporate sites that require old versions of Internet Explorer to function, a new solution called Catalyst lets you switch between them and the modern Web.

Browsium's business is your business' browsers, and its new Catalyst program looks to solve the problem of corporate intranets requiring older, rickety version of Internet Explorer while the rest of the Web has moved on with its life toward HTML5.

Currently available for free in public beta, Catalyst allows corporate IT departments to force certain sites to open in different browsers. It works in three browsers, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, and installs a Catalyst add-on in each. That add-on runs in conjunction with a management program that the IT department uses to set rules that tell specific sites to open in specific browsers.

Gary Schare, CEO of Browsium, said Catalyst's goal is to solve several corporate browser problems as companies slowly migrate their internal tools off of legacy versions of Internet Explorer.

"The real key here is how and why multiple browsers wind up in the enterprise. That drives the need for Catalyst," he wrote in an instant message conversation today. "It's a combination of IT needs, if they still have legacy versions of IE for legacy apps, and end user demand for the browser of their choice, usually Chrome or Firefox, given that IT can no longer keep end users from installing a second browser."

Catalyst's configuration manager.

(Credit: Browsium)

The rules can be deployed to end user employees from Windows' Active Directory or a third-party enterprise software distribution system. Once the employee navigates to a site governed by Catalyst, it automatically opens in the proper browser without any further interaction.

Because of how it works, Schare claimed Catalyst can minimize some security risks like zero-days. Companies can use it to force corporate intranets to open in a specific browser, he wrote, while allowing employees to use other browsers for Web work outside the intranet. This is similar to current security advice, which suggests running one browser for mission-critical use like banking transactions, and a second browser for general-purpose Web browsing.

Though the product is designed for corporate enterprise use, Schare said there's nothing stopping people at home from giving it a shot to control which browser opens high-use sites with sensitive information like Web-mail, banking, or shopping sites.

Schare said he expects the current public beta to finalize sometime in the first quarter of 2013. Browsium hasn't released any pricing information yet, either. However, Schare did say that the number of companies that have expressed interest in Catalyst is "in the hundreds."

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