Friday, August 31, 2012

Chrome + IE Tab smokes IE9? What have you found?

This week I am having to get to grips with an environment where Internet Explorer is a requirement. The same environment also uses Lotus Notes. For a Mac user this can be challenging but I have made quite a bit of progress setting up a configuration that works effectively.

I managed to obtain a copy of Lotus Notes 8.5 Beta. I did try to upgrade to the latest version of the Mac Client but the IBM web site steadfastly refuses to accept my address information. When you select the country it automatically submits the page - before you have had time to fill in the remaining data such as Zipcode - which is required. Consequently you end up in an infinite loop. All this in order to download a TRIAL copy of Lotus Notes 8.5.2 client. It is no wonder Lotus Notes is not that popular. You can't easily get your hands on a trial copy.

The next challenge was to use Internet Explorer on my Mountain Lion copy of Mac OS X. Now, I have had a copy of VMware Fusion v 3.1 but that will not run on Mountain Lion. Fortunately VMware have released VMware Fusion 5 with both Windows 8 and Mountain Lion support. I managed to find a discount code that let me acquire a copy of Fusion 5 for close to the upgrade price. That coupled with a copy of Windows 7 and I was ready to get going.

VMWare Fusion with the Unity interface is very nice and pretty responsive on my MacBook Air. After purchasing Windows 7 Professional and downloading the 64-bit version I was able to launch Windows 7 via VMware Fusion 5. I then upgraded from IE 8 to IE 9 and also installed a complimentary copy of McAfee Anti-virus. 

I also took the plunge and purchased a Windows copy of 1Password from Agilebits. This is my "Must Have" password manager. It works across just about every platform. It also works in conjunction with DropBox so after downloading and installing Dropbox and firing up 1Password I had my passwords readily available.

The only other components I then needed were: Flash and Adobe Reader since Windows, unlike the Mac doesn't handle PDF files without an add-in. 

With all this up and running I was able to fire up IE9 and access these IE-only sites. I was also having to access a confluence wiki via an Extranet connection. Updating the wiki turned out to be very slow, even over a fast network connection. However, when I downloaded Adobe Flash Player I had inadvertently left the "Download Google Chrome" pick active. I therefore had Google Chrome installed in my Windows Virtual Machine. 

In an effort to make editing the wiki more efficient I tried Chrome. However, I needed to be able to seamlessly switch between the Confluence Wiki pages and other web pages where IE was a requirement. I therefore downloaded and activated the IE Tab Add-in for Google Chrome. This has turned out to be a great solution. Chrome has a better User Interface than IE9 and the combination of Windows Chrome with IE Tab seems to be much faster and more responsive than IE9. 

What has your experience been with IE9? For me, switching to Chrome + IE Tab has seen the "Reloading Web Page" errors disappear and running Windows Chrome using Unity under VMware Fusion makes the browser seem almost like the native OS X Chrome browser.