May 30, 2008, 12:00 AM

Retail Explorer

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In recent tests Gomez ran on retail web sites, some sites operated better than others when accessed through IE8, Mouline says. “Some web sites started to behave erratically,” he says. “In some cases it took longer for images to load because the servers were having a hard time keeping up.”

A new version of the Firefox browser from open-source developer Mozilla also supports a larger number of server connections. To ensure top performance of IE8 and Firefox, retailers can run tests through services from performance-monitoring companies like Gomez and Keynote Systems Inc. to determine how well servers and online shopping applications hold up under heavy traffic.

Upgrades

A retailer might find, for example, that it needs to upgrade web servers or redesign applications like its shopping cart to properly process the larger number of connections between browsers and web servers and make pages appear fully and quickly, Mouline says. Problems could also lie with other servers and applications hosted by third parties such as content-serving networks, he adds.

Although Microsoft doesn’t dispute Mouline’s concerns, it notes that it designed IE8 to be compatible with web pages designed for viewing through earlier versions of Internet Explorer. “We’re making a huge leap forward with Internet Explorer 8 to adopt Internet standards for making it compatible for web sites written for Internet Explorer 6 and 7,” Lapsen says.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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