IBM makes Firefox the default company browser? When will IBM Lotus Notes stop depending on Internet Explorer?

In recent news IBM officially proclaimed Mozilla Firefox as the corporate browser of choice. The news was picked up by major news outlets such as CNet, and ars technica (“IBM embraces Firefox, adopts it internally“). The news even made it to small Denmark as a news item on Version 2 (“IBM gør Firefox til standardbrowser for 400.000 ansatte“; English: IBM makes Firefox the default browser for 400.000 employees).

While I really like the choice being a multi-year-long Firefox user myself it raises a question. If Microsoft Internet Explorer isn’t a good choice for a web browser and not something that IBM wants to bet their money on for internal web browser usage how come it’s still good enough as a core component in Lotus Notes 8? As you might know most (if not all) e-mail rendering in Lotus Notes is done using Internet Explorer. Also Internet Explorer is the browser of choice for web-based Composite Application components (on Windows anyway). Despite the hate for Internet Explorer that some may carry around it works and works well.

It does however raise an interesting question…

What’s to stop Microsoft from introducing a special “feature” in Internet Explorer that makes it crash when used inside Lotus Notes? Customers would blame Lotus Notes while the “feature” would in effect cripple all Lotus Notes 8 e-mail rendering on the Windows platform. The only thing that I can see stopping them from a move like this is behaving nicely – but how long will that continue?

If only there was a way to solve that problem… Well there is. Create a SWT Browser component that uses Webkit or another open source rendering engine that IBM can control and can continue to control. That would put IBM Lotus back in control of a core component of their own product. Maybe this egg is too precious to put in another vendors basket.


14 thoughts on “IBM makes Firefox the default company browser? When will IBM Lotus Notes stop depending on Internet Explorer?”

  1. XULRunner 1.9, which is the basis for Firefox 3.x, is used for Xpages in the Notes client. However, as far as I can tell, Notes mail that contains MIME and any standard browser component still relies on IE on the Windows platform


  2. Eclipse and Expeditor contain a few browser controls. The most powerful one is called WebBrowser ( and can be instantiated with a parameter to display web pages using Xulrunner. Hopefully IBM will replace the IE rendering in one of the next releases (8.5.3?) with a better solution.


  3. The browser used is platform dependent. There is a loooong running bug in the swt develoment community to male the swt component configurable. On Linux it uses the Gecko engine… but I wouldn’t mind being able to try webkit too.


  4. “Do you think that lasted long??”

    Can you explain what you mean? Everyone uses symphony unless they have real business case (ie. Testing) to use office or grandfathered in on older versions.

    With regards to “special feature”. IANAL, but even if that wasn’t grounds for litigation, it would ethically wrong. It would also send the wrong message to your existing customers.


  5. Yes I can Simon. IBM a while ago declared that all staff would move to Symphony. The IBM staff I work with, some have asked “what is Symphony”, none of them use it. Simple really.


  6. Just for fun, I tried changing the embedded browser setting in the plugin_customization.ini inside my Lotus Notes client 8.5.1 on Windows

    ( this seems to avoid loading the IEOOP part ?! Whether this really implies Firefox, I am unsure …

    Mikkel – any thoughts?


  7. Well now you mention it I think there was some talk about being able to switch browser at some point although I think it encompassed more than this. Interesting though… Does it still render mail etc. correctly?


  8. Mikkel, regarding fiddling with respect to the embedded browser: I have not observed any flaws after doing this. I have actually done a bit more (again at own risk).  Totally I have added/modified plugin_customization.ini with these:

    Let me know if/when you try 😉 



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