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IE 11 Support Added in Latest Load Tester 5.5 patch

Earlier last month, Microsoft began rolling out IE 11 updates for Windows 7 users. Now, with the most recent release of Load Tester 5.5, you can rest assured that Load Tester will continue to allow you to record your testcases using the upgraded IE 11.

IE 11 includes a number of new enhancements (many of which are reserved for Windows 8.1 customers). However, on Windows 7, users can still benefit from improved performance and standards support.

One of the interesting modifications of note is a new change to IE’s user agent header. Starting with IE 11, the browser will no longer include the “MSIE” string to identify itself to web servers. One of the side-effects of this change is improved performance using secure connections with Apache Servers. The following comes from an IE 9 era blog post, which includes a description of the issue between more modern IE browsers and Apache:

Prior to IE6, ancient and unpatched versions of IE sometimes encountered connection failures when interacting with HTTPS servers when Keep-Alive is used. That problem was fixed nearly a decade ago, but outdated 1999-era configuration advice continues to harm performance for unaware server administrators:

http://www.modssl.org/docs/2.8/ssl_faq.html#ToC49
http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/ssl/ssl_faq.html
SetEnvIf User-Agent “.*MSIE.*” \
nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown \
downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0

http://www.faqs.org/docs/securing/chap29sec245.html
SSLOptions +ExportCertData +StrictRequire
SetEnvIf User-Agent “.*MSIE.*” nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown
SetEnvIf Request_URI \.gif$ gif-image
CustomLog /var/log/httpd/ssl_request_log \
“%t %h %{SSL_PROTOCOL}x %{SSL_CIPHER}x \”%r\” %b” env=!gif-image
</VirtualHost>

Four years ago, there was a public call to update the guidance to reflect the fact that users of more modern browsers were paying an unneeded performance penalty. Finally, in June 2010, the default guidance was changed in recognition of the fact that the problem never affected IE6 and later:

BrowserMatch “.*MSIE [1-5].*” \
nokeepalive ssl-unclean-shutdown \
downgrade-1.0 force-response-1.0

Unfortunately, many major Apache installations still haven’t been updated with even this guidance. Also, alert readers will spot a very obvious problem with the “new” regular expression.

In the expression above, any IE version that starts with “1” will be treated as outdated and served connection slowly without Keep-Alive. Internet Explorer 1.0 didn’t even support SSL at all (SSL was added in 2.0), but worse, this loosely-written regular expression will also match future MSIE 10.0, MSIE 11.0, MSIE 12.0 (etc) user-agent strings. Hence, Apache hosts will one day find that the newest browsers are forced into the “slow” lane!

(The full text of the blog post is available at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ieinternals/archive/2011/03/26/https-and-connection-close-is-your-apache-modssl-server-configuration-set-to-slow.aspx.)

The new user agent headers for IE now quietly omit the MSIE string, meaning that communication with Apache servers can finally perform at the same level as it would for a different browser.

Users on Load Tester 5.5 can upgrade to the latest patch at any time by simply using Load Tester’s built-in Help -> Software Update functionality. Users of previous versions of Load Tester 5.4 are also able to upgrade to 5.5 with a current support contract, or if a complimentary 5.5 license update has been delivered.

Of course, our friendly support is always available to answer any questions you may have about Load Tester 5.5 or the upgrade process.

Happy Testing!

-Frank
Engineer at Web Performance, Inc.

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