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Google To End Support For IE6

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the enough-is-enough dept.

Businesses 272

itwbennett writes "Google announced Friday that it will be phasing out support for Internet Explorer 6, more than two weeks after the attacks on Google's servers that targeted a vulnerability in IE6. In a blog post, Rajen Sheth, Google Apps senior product manager, said that support for IE6 in Google Docs and Google Sites will end March 1. At that point, IE6 users who try to access Docs or Sites may find that 'key functionality' won't work properly. Sheth suggested that customers upgrade their browsers to pretty much anything else."

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GNAA to support IE6 exclusively (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30961850)

Join the GNAA Today!

Finally (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30961856)

It's about time high traffic sites stop supporting that abomination of a browser.

Die IE6 die.

Huge developer time savings. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962676)

During 2009, I asked my web dev team to track, in our bug tracker, how long they spend fixing issues for each browser. Most of our web development is for internal users, and we have to support some old systems running IE6.

The total amount of time varied between the different developers, as expected. The average for the web developers was just under 60 hours.

One developer put in 325 hours fixing bugs relating to IE6 alone. I don't think that number is due to a lack of skill on his part. He's actually one of the better developers, and so he often took the more difficult bugs.

That doesn't look like a lot of time at a quick glance, but do the math. For our typical 40 hour workweek, that one developer spent over two full months last year alone fixing problems due to IE6. That's many thousands of dollars that were basically wasted, and that doesn't include the time and money the other devs also wasted supporting IE6.

So now that we had some real data that we could use to show the financial cost of IE6, management was willing to listen. We took our data nearly to the top, and successfully got our company to drop IE6. Not only that, but we talked them into dropping support for IE completely, including IE7 and IE8. We got them to standardize on Chrome, and we're currently in the process of deploying it company-wide. Our lives will be much more enjoyable from this point onwards, I think.

Ding Dong (1)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961860)

The witch is dead!

About time too.

Re:Ding Dong (5, Funny)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961868)

Now if only they'd kill off IE7 and 8 too.

Re:Ding Dong (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961922)

whats wrong with IE8? its not the best browser alright but its a huge step in right direction

Re:Ding Dong (5, Insightful)

Thoreauly Nuts (1701246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962022)

its not the best browser alright but its a huge step in right direction

The only reason it's a step in the right direction is because every other browser has dragged Microsoft kicking and screaming into the present. They certainly wouldn't have done it on their own...

Re:Ding Dong (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962268)

And why should they? I mean how exactly does IE8 build shareholder value or add value to the Windows platform?

Kidding aside, this was clearly an effort to kill off support for IE6 at an opportune time. Unless I'm mistaken weren't other versions also equally vulnerable to the exploit?

Re:Ding Dong (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962896)

And why should they? I mean how exactly does IE8 build shareholder value or add value to the Windows platform?

Intentionally or not, I think you've managed to highlight one of the biggest problems in modern-day business. There's a lot of emphasis of "building or adding value", but there really doesn't seem to be much consideration of how to manage its evil twin, which is the erosion of value.

When you only look at things that show tangible and immediate gains, you're doing the equivalent of nurturing the leaves of a plant and ignoring its root system. When support is an "expense" or "cost center", when the money you save by routing customers - and potential customers - into Phone Menu Hell, when, by a thousand cuts you make the people who send in the money (whether directly or indirectly) feel abused, neglected and resentful, that's all eroding value. Like a weak root system, it may not immediately be apparent what's wrong, but the "plant" as a whole cannot flourish.

None of which matters to the grab-the-money-and-run crowd, but once you've grabbed the money, you're best off not investing it in places like that.

Re:Ding Dong (5, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962340)

You say it is a bad thing...

Microsoft goal for winning the browser war back in the late 90's was so they could have control of the standards and make the web their own so it would be useless to use the web without windows and Internet Explorer.

Yes they won the war but they failed in their objective. Why...

1. ActiveX security issues and the rise of internet skum...
      When ActiveX was competing against Java Applets they made some things that made the users at the time happy but was short sited... ActiveX while faster also allowed writing to the system and its only security measure was a warning. Thinking their user base will say no when they go to that porn site and it asked to install this app so they can watch the movie... Then this spread and went across thew the advertisers channels so even legit sites with shady advertising companies found ways to install crap on your computer without you knowing. In essence limiting ActiveX to intranet applications. And shortly after that flash took over the spot as it did cooler graphics.

2. Linux and Apache web server.
      IIS had a few big security problems at the wrong time of internet development where a lot of companies went with apache and linux for its server. Now that doesn't really mean that it will directly stop microsoft plans however the Developers who worked on those system initally did their testing with Netscape, Mozilla firefox and others to make sure they got the stuff to work then they finally tested and did cleanup work in IE. So the new post 2001 developers wanted to be more platform independent.

3. Mac Popularity + Linux desktop too... IE5 was the last Mac Browser Microsoft made. Then during last decade there was a surge in the popularity in macs. They were popular enough for developers and companies to take notice. As well Linux users who added to the problems so developers learned there is a lot of pain leaving out 5% market share.

4. Firefox and Webkit browseers... At the time it was the small light and fast browser that gave IE a run for its money on speed. (Today IE is one of the slowest) Back then IE loaded and rendered so much more quickly that using others will feel painful. Then they also had better CSS standard support allowing developers a reason to get rid of IE6.

5. Mobile devices... Microsoft floundered in mobile devices there were doing Ok until the blackberry with opera and the iPhone. And now with android webkit chome based. Developers who want to get that market need to make sure other browers get use too.

6. IE6 Bugs and Security... A big set security problems targeted at IE6 really got a lot of people to switch to firefox and demand that their new browser works for the app

7. High Speed Internet... Back when IE6 was new most people were still on dialup download Netscape, Mozilla or Opera was a big task that took a long time. Today it is easy to get the browser and be up rather quickly.

8. Flash... Micromeda then Adobe made flash and they made it for Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris... and for all the major browsers. What it did was make a lot of browers made the web look cool.

9. Integrated web browser wasn't used very well. After all that legal battles and anti-trust fines microsoft paid... No one really used the inegrated browser the was it was meant to be. They still downloaded normal apps or clicked on the e to get to the internet the integration didn't add to the experience.

10.The Vista/IE 7 Flop... I dont know what was going on with microsoft back 4 years ago. But they were not putting on their A-Game competing against the wrong competitors making lofty goals and not meeting them what ever was the problem Vista/IE 7 made people want to stay with IE6/XP for a bit longer until they can get a good version. Making IE Get even more out of date.

Re:Ding Dong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962322)

Whooshiwhooshwhoosh?

Re:Ding Dong (4, Insightful)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962860)

Even the hugest step is not all that helpful when you're 80 steps behind already. You'd think that a company with an $8 billion R&D budget could build a web browser that is 100% standards compliant, performs well, and adds enough value for their users to make it the browser of choice on Windows. Apple and Google can did it, so it's definitely doable. Both Chrome and Safari on my Mac score 100/100 on the acid 3 test. Firefox: 93, Opera: 85.

IE 8 on Window 7? 20. After getting stuck at 12 for 6 seconds.

In the real world this is not that apparent, an I can generally get pages to display identically in FF, Safari, Chrome, Opera and IE8, but I do need to modify CSS that renders fine in the other 4 to make IE8 work, particularly in the area of margins and padding.

There is no good excuse for a company with Microsoft's resources to build such shitty software. I'm a little apprehensive about how crappy their implementation of HTML 5 will be; IE 9 will be the new IE 6. Bet on it.

Re:Ding Dong (2, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961962)

Did anyone else just fall out of their chair when they read this? I was a little disappointed that in TFA, they mention they would suggest users upgrade to IE7.

"Support for IE6 in Google Docs and Google Sites will end March 1, Sheth said in the post. At that point, IE6 users who try to access Docs or Sites may find that "key functionality" won't work properly, he said.

Sheth suggested that customers upgrade to Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox 3.0, Google Chrome 4.0 or Safari 3.0, or more recent versions of those browsers. "

Why would they even suggest IE7?

I'm also wondering how this will affect corporate infrastructures who rely on Docs or Sites. My company is one of those stuck in IE6 ZombieLand, but we are already in the certification process for Windows 7 and IE8. Unfortunately, for an organization our size, it takes 1-2 years to move to a new version of windows. I can't imagine we're all that unique. This time line seems very aggressive (don't get me wrong, I understand Google's perspective completely).

Re:Ding Dong (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962012)

IE7 has been out since forever and runs on XP. It's not unreasonable to expect people to upgrade. Even large companies.

I know a few large enterprises here in Switzerland and most of them have upgraded all their clients to IE7 for security purposes. I know one of them publishes IE6 through Citrix for a few legacy apps.

Re:Ding Dong (4, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962030)

Apologies. I should have been more clear. Why wouldn't they just suggest the latest release version for the IE browser (IE8) to begin with? I'm not going to debate it's merits or cons, and I don't use IE, but it doesn't make sense, or seem very responsible to suggest an older browser version that is arguably less standards compliant than IE8. It would seem like Google is just shooting themselves in the foot by doing so.

Re:Ding Dong (1)

BOFslime (178524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962366)

Apologies. I should have been more clear. Why wouldn't they just suggest the latest release version for the IE browser (IE8) to begin with? I'm not going to debate it's merits or cons, and I don't use IE, but it doesn't make sense, or seem very responsible to suggest an older browser version that is arguably less standards compliant than IE8. It would seem like Google is just shooting themselves in the foot by doing so.

I think you missed the key term "upgrade" in his statement.

Re:Ding Dong (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962370)

I think it's the most clever move they can do. Next year they'll phase out IE7, and companies will have to chose to pay yet again or switch to a free browser.

Re:Ding Dong (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962570)

Why would they have to pay "yet again" to switch to IE7 or IE8? Both are compatible with XP which most companies are still running and it's not like Microsoft charges for the browser.

Re:Ding Dong (2, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962578)

Why wouldn't they just suggest the latest release version for the IE browser (IE8) to begin with?

Because there are people who are currently using IE7, so why should they upgrade? In fact, my company *just* announced an upgrade to IE7 for IT-managed systems. No, that's not a typo.

Re:Ding Dong (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962270)

Sheth suggested that customers upgrade to Internet Explorer 7, Mozilla Firefox 3.0, Google Chrome 4.0 or Safari 3.0, or more recent versions of those browsers. " Why would they even suggest IE7?

Because otherwise it would look like they were stopping support for IE6 for commercial reasons rather than technical reasons. Which would be unethical to say the least.

I'm also wondering how this will affect corporate infrastructures who rely on Docs or Sites. My company is one of those stuck in IE6 ZombieLand, but we are already in the certification process for Windows 7 and IE8. Unfortunately, for an organization our size, it takes 1-2 years to move to a new version of windows. I can't imagine we're all that unique. This time line seems very aggressive (don't get me wrong, I understand Google's perspective completely).

They will have to change or stop using the services. How many years have people been saying that IE6 should be got rid of? Do you need a disembodied hand to write it on the board room wall in blood?

Re:Ding Dong (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962786)

They suggested IE7 as it is a better browser.

Good riddance! (2, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961882)

It's time to see IE6 go. Unfortunately, Microsoft will support IE6 until support for XP runs out - this model needs to change, badly.

SP3 for XP should've made IE7 mandatory. Unfortunately, the right decisions are not always good for business.

Re:Good riddance! (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962050)

It's time to see IE6 go. Unfortunately, Microsoft will support IE6 until support for XP runs out - this model needs to change, badly.

The problem is that many large companies have internal systems that were written back when Microsoft pushed ActiveX as the solution to all the world's problems. They can't upgrade their users' browsers until and unless the in-house software they rely on has been upgraded. And sometimes that's difficult, because of the dot-com-bubble bursting, taking with it the companies that made the badware.

I know one Very Large company that just upgraded its internal users from IE4 to IE6. IE7 isn't feasible, and IE8 even less so.

Personally, if I have to use an IE browser, I prefer IE7. IE8 has too many problems, like Z ordering (just try using it without click-to-raise) or incompatibility with non-default high DPI settings.

But better yet is Seamonkey, the true inheritor to the Netscape Communicator legacy. Same rendering engine as Firefox, but a much smaller memory footprint, and configuration menus that haven't been dumbed down for the masses. Plus the built-in HTML composer comes in handy every now and then.

Re:Good riddance! (3, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962168)

This drives me up the wall. Redesigning a web interface is NOT that hard, even if it's all activeX shit. If the company doesn't exist anymore, they need to move away eventually so they're just procrastinating the pain. If the company does exist, pressure them to make it IE7/IE8 compatible just like my company did.

Re:Good riddance! (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962368)

I think you are underestimating ActiveX. An ActiveX control is basically a Windows shared library. These are not really web apps, they're windows apps that use the browser for deployment (which, for Intranet use, isn't a completely terrible idea). Making them not use ActiveX basically means completely rewriting the client.

Re:Good riddance! (4, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962490)

Indeed. And not only the front-end, but the back-end too.
Then there's the whole API issue -- they may not even have it. And porting existing data to a new platform may be a quite involved job, especially if the solution was bought as a black box back when.

Yes, companies today are paying for the mistakes done by managers during the dot-com boom.

Re:Good riddance! (5, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962202)

The problem is that many large companies have internal systems that were written back when Microsoft pushed ActiveX as the solution to all the world's problems.

And there's a very simple solution to this, that i've seen in a large corporation here. Upgrade all the clients to IE7/8, and publish links to those legacy applications using Citrix, which runs IE6 ontop of Windows Server 2003. Make sure that IE6 in Citrix can only reach the legacy apps, and not the Internet in general. Problem solved.

Re:Good riddance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962392)

Or, why not install one of several other fantastic browsers (firefox being one of the best supported) and use ie6 for internal stuff. That didn't seem hard.

The only thing I am unsure of is how to force IE6 to internal sites only.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962458)

Or, why not install one of several other fantastic browsers (firefox being one of the best supported) and use ie6 for internal stuff. That didn't seem hard.

All non-Microsoft browsers suck at central configuration and central updates. You'll waste a lot of time packaging updates, something Microsoft does for you when using IE.

The only thing I am unsure of is how to force IE6 to internal sites only.

Plenty of ways. You can force it to use a proxy server through a GPO, then block everything but the internal apps on that proxy.

Re:Good riddance! (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962952)

Or you could just use the nice MSIs made by Frontmotion [frontmotion.com] . They have a community edition with GPO support, even one that allows you to pass it out with preconfigured extensions. One of the nice things about FOSS is if the parent group refuses to see to a need someone else can step up.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962550)

Simply use Group Policy to set the proxy server for IE to localhost. Now IE is internal only. However be careful of side effects. Some other applications for some reason share / use IE's settings. For example Google Chrome uses IE's settings. Firefox doesn't, so it will be OK. Any client side app that requires internet connectivity is also likely to instantiate a winsock connection using the defaults for the API which are basically "query the IE settings and use those for internet connectivity". Java applets may also have trouble depending on how they are written. As always, testing, testing, testing.

Another way to do it would be to use GPO to set an extended user agent on IE6 - for example adding "INTERNALONLY" to the user agent. Have the proxy deny connection requests that contain this string in their user agent. That would have the effect (generally) of not stopping applications that initialize winsock with the defaults as the defaults don't use IE's configured user agent string.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

Eirenarch (1099517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962262)

So why not use ActiveX on IE8?

Re:Good riddance! (4, Insightful)

stang (90261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962408)

...problem is that many large companies have internal systems that were written back when Microsoft pushed ActiveX as the solution...

Actually, if these companies had written their internal system software as a big ActiveX component, they wouldn't have this problem. ActiveX is (as far as IE's concerned) simply a plugin architecture. Note that the Flash plugin for IE (an ActiveX control) works the same in IE6-IE8.

The problem with ActiveX is that it's just not an appropriate plugin technology for browsers. It has no inherent sandboxing capabilities; there's no way to differentiate between a browser plugin and any other ActiveX control; and Windows comes with several ActiveX controls that should never be allowed to be used in a browser (FileSystemObject, anyone)? For what it was designed for -- resuable components for desktop applications -- it's great, but MS should have put a little more thought into what they were unleashing when they decided to make ActiveX the plugin standard for IE. And no, I don't count "signed" and "marked safe for scripting" features as thought.

No, the problem is that these business systems were all put together using HTML/CSS content that was only ever written for, or tested with, IE. Companies that needed these systems took their bizapps people and told 'em to "make a web version". As is typical with internal apps, they were written to meet the company's needs as quickly and cheaply as possible; which means "works in our current environment", not "is ready for the future". Add in years of ad-hoc tweaks, changes, subsystem additions, and you've got a crufty piece of web tech that barely works in the originally spec'ed envrionment.

Asking for cross-browser/web standards output from a bunch of stuff written by programmers who:

  • Are used to working with client-side/Winforms VB or C# .Net (or VB6) and SQL Server/MS Access databases for their bizapps
  • Who may or may not be any good at their jobs
  • Who may not be the same people who originally wrote the code
  • Who were told to pick "fast and cheap" as the two out of three (fast, cheap, good)
  • Who were told all of this 10 years ago

is optimistic, at best.

Re:Good riddance! (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962074)

It's time to see IE6 go. Unfortunately, Microsoft will support IE6 until support for XP runs out - this model needs to change, badly.

SP3 for XP should've made IE7 mandatory. Unfortunately, the right decisions are not always good for business.

Yeah, because forced upgrades also go over so well with this crowd. Should a RHEL/SLES/Ubuntu LTS release of Linux force upgrades to Firefox? Is it okay to do that just because the next major version is free? There's a lot you can blame Microsoft for, but it's the companies that don't want to upgrade which is the problem here. Or would you rather Microsoft moves more in the direction of Apple too, making decisions for you than to leave it to the users?

Re:Good riddance! (2, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962186)

Yeah, because forced upgrades also go over so well with this crowd.

This isn't DRM-style remote content removal, it's about support. Microsoft has decided that they will support IE6 until support for XP runs out, which is in 2014 - plenty of time to go. The same will happen with IE7, which will be supported until support for Vista runs out, which IMO is also unnecessary.

I can understand why Microsoft does it and i also understand why large corporations don't like to do upgrades (because they mostly use crappy, unmaintained software written for a single use case by idiot developers that got rich by delivering a shitty product).

IE8 is usuable. It works. It's much more secure than IE6. The only people that haven't upgraded yet need a hard incentive to justify an upgrade to their management - "support runs out" is about the hardest incentive you can get.

Re:Good riddance! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962316)

The thing is, they get all up in arms when it's someone else that has to do the work, but won't bother to do a few things to make themselves secure. "Being supported" by Microsoft means nothing to them. See, I do some consulting work for a VERY large credit union in the Chicago area. And, strangely enough, they have a bunch of Windows2000 machines for some mission critical reason.... that they use to surf the internet with IE6 on when they are waiting for the stuff to run... and then they proceed to bitch that web pages don't work. This is outright dangerous. They don't care, they want Facebook to run. (After seeing a bit of how the banking industry works, I keep a lot of cash on hand. I can forgo a shitty quarter percent on my checking/savings account to keep the cash away from that bunch of retards. A coffee can of cash in my storage unit is quite seriously, less risky.)

Re:Good riddance! (3, Interesting)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962220)

There's a lot you can blame Microsoft for, but it's the companies that don't want to upgrade which is the problem here.

Exactly!

These companies are faced with a choice.

A) They keep IE6 so their internal "webapps" (IE6 apps really) and such don't need upgraded, but since only IE6 is installed they have no web browser.
or B) They install a web browser app, and need to spend money to fix/update those IE6-apps to work with a web browser instead.

If the company chooses 'A', they willingly and knowingly have chosen not to have web browsing capabilities on those computers.

Sure, Microsoft has made some choices that make life harder for people needing to make that choice. But lack of forced upgrades is not one of those poor decisions.
Designing IE in such a way that multiple versions can't be installed along side would be a valid complaint, but it should be clear by now it is a complaint they will never address.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962298)

Realistically if MS goes this route, some enterprising firm will figure out how to create an application that allows for a side by side install for those internal applications.

Personally, I'm forced to use an application of that nature at work, though thankfully not tied to IE6, and it's an absolute misery to work with most of the time. Companies really need to just recognize that regardless of what mr. Ellison might think thin clients are not the way of the future.

Re:Good riddance! (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962384)

Microsoft only made it difficult if you want IE7 or 8 as your browser for external apps. If you want FireFox, Chrome, or Safari for the Internet and IE 6 for the Intranet, it's pretty simple...

Re:Good riddance! (4, Interesting)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962248)

The problem comes from two not-so-problematical things working together;

1. That IE can only exist as one version on the machine.

2. That corporate users are so fucking afraid of using a real browser. (I am looking at you, you pathetic corporate dick sucking IT guys that can't seem to handle an easy to install free Browser.)

Put these two together, and you get a large crowd of self-righteous "I am working so I must get to use my shitty equipment on any web site I want" people that subject IE6 on the rest of the Internet that has have moved on. They use IE6 because someone made a bad decision and won't own up to it. And really, what exactly ARE these mysterious and absolutely critical ActiveX apps? Are you fucking serious? If they are that critical, maybe write some VB to do the same thing. Wouldn't that be fancy? Or is this just another lame job protection thing that you are afraid your rickety shitty ass app being replaced by a 16 line batch file will put you out on the street.

It is this attitude that truly makes these corporate idiots deserve a baseball bat to the back of the head.

IE6 doesn't even render DIV tags properly. Which pretty much means two versions of every web site. (It renders them like tables, with all of their limitations. Why even support it at all if you can't layer your DIVs?)

We don't let horse and buggy on the interstate anymore, no matter HOW rich the idiot is. There's no reason to put up with IE6's shit anymore either. The fucking thing is NINE GODDAMN YEARS OLD, and is FOUR FULL OPERATING SYSTEMS BEHIND.

Kill it. Kill IE6. Kill anybody that still uses it, their fault or not.

Re:Good riddance! (5, Informative)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962386)

It should be noted though that Firefox/Chrome/Opera are not alternatives in a large environment, and the reason for this is that none of these three browsers have thought a lot about deployment.

Chrome uses it's own custom "install into userprofile" thing, which can be pretty nice for standalone computers at home without admin rights.

Firefox comes with it's own installer, but doesn't bring any update tools for large enterprises, and it doesn't use the standard MSI format.

Opera can't be updated by non-admin users either.

Not of these three browsers can be managed centrally using group policies, like IE can. Sure, there's the Frontmotion Firefox packages, but this isn't Mozilla providing them and they're not very good either.

Microsoft's WSUS has the ability to use 3rd party patches. Not one of the competitors browsers allow updates to be installed through WSUS/WU. WSUS is very popular in small-to-midsized companies where a full software deployment solution like SCCM is overkill and too expensive, but automatic distrubtion of security patches is still key to a secure work environment.

That's why i still recommend all our clients to run IE8 - because it requires less effort, is easier to keep secure (A fully patched IE8 is better than a 16 months old version of Firefox) and is preinstalled anyway.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962666)

Thank you. I was about to post the same - these other browsers are great (I am typing this at home on Chrome - now that is has extension support, and my secondary browser at home is Firefox while at work I primarily use FF) however as you said they put zero effort into being maintainable in an enterprise. Assume that an enterprise pushes out either FF or Chrome to their users. There is no easy way to configure even the proxy settings, let alone configure the security settings to allow certain apps/ sites more or less trust. The default install will pop up requests for admin rights randomly when they decide to update themselves (of course enterprise users aren't admins - or shouldn't be!). As you said - they don't really have patching: for the most part they are just completely new installs, often bringing UI changes and new features in an update. Unfortunately that means even more testing than a normal Internet Explorer patch since IE patches don't deliver features/changes.

Being a corporate desktop design person, I have admin rights and prefer FF to IE. However I have to manage that installation just like a home user. If Google or Mozilla would spend some time/money on re-architecting their patching model and their deployment of settings they would be very viable in the corporate space. The only thing left as a blocker could be those legacy apps (which it should be admitted are becoming a smaller percentage of the installed base and could probably be handled in ways others in this thread have mentioned like Citrix, etc.).

Re:Good riddance! (1)

dsavi (1540343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962254)

Yeah, because forced upgrades also go over so well with this crowd. Should a RHEL/SLES/Ubuntu LTS release of Linux force upgrades to Firefox? Is it okay to do that just because the next major version is free?

Maybe if old versions of Firefox running on RHEL/SLES/Ubuntu LTS represented over 25% of the global browser market share.

Or would you rather Microsoft moves more in the direction of Apple too, making decisions for you than to leave it to the users?

That's an interesting point. In some cases such as this one, that would actually be a good move.

Re:Good riddance! (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962470)

There's a lot you can blame Microsoft for, but it's the companies that don't want to upgrade which is the problem here.

The companies stuck on IE6 are the very ones that want to upgrade to the next versions - they're "Microsoft shops" and have been for a decade. They're into Software Assurance bigtime. Unfortunately for them they got committed, and built their core mission critical apps on a platform with no compatible migration strategy. They were entitled to expect a compatible migration strategy, and they didn't get one. It's fair to blame Microsoft for that lack.

Unfortunately, they can and will eventually migrate to a newer version of the Microsoft browser and services which also lack a compatible migration strategy, thus getting stuck in the same trap more than once. You would think they would learn and embrace this novel concept of "standards", but no.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962742)

As a web-dev, I see the biggest problem with IE6 being that it's rendering is massively buggy [the security issues don't directly affect me!]. Issues such as peek-a-boo bugs are difficult to test for; I can build a site, test it and have it all work perfectly, and then make a few tweaks later, and than discover that this triggers a weird IE6 bug. Worse, even if I have "tested"** in IE6, these things don't always reveal themselves... so in practise, I tend to find out about issues when the client complains!

IE7 introduced a bunch of changes including the obvious addition of tabs and UI changes, and the fixes and updates to the rendering engine.

IMHO, Microsoft should have fixed the rendering bugs in IE6. They should've called that IE6.1 or something. But instead, they did their usual trick where they roll bug fixes and features into one, so some people cannot easily update from IE6 to IE7. But IE6 rendering was broken and should've been fixed waaaaay before IE7 was released.

On the other-hand, if MS had done this, we would have a less flaky, but still seriously lacking, IE6 and there may be even less incentive for people to upgrade!

**"Tested" for me typically means I viewed a page once in said browser. Obviously if the budget is there then more testing may be done, but typically there isn't time for extensive testing for minor page changes.

Re:Good riddance! (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962820)

I don't think the new UI and tabs are what's preventing people from upgrading to IE7/8, it's just the new rendering engine - the new UI and tabs are basically incentives to get the new rendering engine.

So i'm not seeing what such a IE6.1 would've accomplished.

All I can say is... (1, Redundant)

Uranium-238 (1586465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961888)

about fucking time!

Epitaph (5, Insightful)

johnw (3725) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961894)

upgrade their browsers to pretty much anything else

What an appropriate assessment of IE6.

Re:Epitaph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30961932)

Today, certainly, but as Ballmer once said, you'll miss Vista when it's gone.

(Well, really, I think the quote was something like, when everyone uses Windows 7, it will be easier to appreciate the changes that were introduced in Vista. But anyway.)

Consider ye poor, scrawny IE6 in the light of its predecessors—IE5 and 5.5. IE6 at least gets cred, despite its awfulness, for having a pop-up blocker.

Re:Epitaph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30961942)

I have windows 2000, with IE6. IE7 and IE8 can't be installed. Moreover, the latest version of google toolbar won't install anyhow since during install it complains that it can't find some DLL interface name.

Re:Epitaph (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961988)

Windows 2000 security updates will cease in Juni/Juli 2010, so you _need_ to upgrade your OS anyway.

Re:Epitaph (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961998)

I am sure you get get firefox at least to work with it and you are still better off then ie6

Re:Epitaph (4, Insightful)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962180)

I have windows 2000, with IE6. IE7 and IE8 can't be installed. Moreover, the latest version of google toolbar won't install anyhow since during install it complains that it can't find some DLL interface name.

I think I see the root of your problem...

Now I'm the last person to knock old hardware and software, but comon dude, you are willingly running 10 year old software!
That complaint is about as valid as being angry an Apple//e from the 80s can't do that new fangled 'http' thing.

Re:Epitaph (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962294)

I have windows 2000, with IE6

On a volunteer basis I manage an older PC running Windows 2000. I recently installed Firefox on it to replace IE 6. It runs fine. To prevent user-confusion I deleted all the IE icons she could see, and changed the Firefox icon to the "Blue E" (sacrilege, I know, but what're you gonna do?)

She barely realized she wasn't using IE anymore.

Re:Epitaph (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962240)

I was very impressed, that nowadays links2/elinks does JavaScript, can use CSS, has tabbed browsing, and even includes a BitTorrent client! One of them also does UTF-8. (Oh, and if you need it, you even get a graphics mode!)

So switching from IE6 to those, would definitely be an upgrade. :)

I wonder if we could define standard APIs for all the components of browsers... HTML parsers with DOM trees, CSS interpreters, JS machines, renderers, plugin-interfaces... So that everyone could glue his own browser together... That would be really cool. (Take Google’s JS engine, the KHTML engine, etc, and make your perfect browser.)

Subject line is way too broad (2, Insightful)

shoppa (464619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30961956)

I personally use Lynx and for 99% of my Google use, it works just as well as it did 14 years ago.

I know that for some, Google = Google Docs or Google Site, but honestly I don't even know what those are.

Google, to me, is just Google search.

Re:Subject line is way too broad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962140)

BAH! I use telnet on port 80 and type in my own request headers.

Re:Subject line is way too broad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962284)

Wow, too cool for school, eh? This has to be a troll.

Re:Subject line is way too broad (1)

aflag (941367) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962296)

Google docs is sort like a web version of MS Word (or openoffice writer). I use google in Google Chrome and/or Mozilla Firefox. I think they provide far better experience than lynx. They are capable of rendering figures, have good support for a web scripting language (called javascript and, sometimes, ECMAscript; though nobody knows the difference) they even have capabilities to allow you to watch a video right off your browser. There are a lot of other nice features as well.

Re:Subject line is way too broad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962428)

You can say what you want about IE6, but lynx is worse GPL crap. When I tried my HTML5 site with all browsers I could get, the only one to be unable to keep up was lynx(I have to use anchors, really?). IE6 didn't support the CSS but semantically, everything worked right. If the Web wasn't controlled by homosexuals and retards who cannot program in real programming languages, IE6 would be a pretty decent browser.

IE6: key functionality won't work properly (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30961960)

How will anyone tell the difference?

I think Google is being reactionary here (1, Informative)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962034)

Just deciding to end support for a product in a month's time after a major hack is being reactionary. This move will definitely wreck havoc in [large] organizations that typically take more than a month to implement change. Google should know this because they are seeking to support these same organizations with their various products.

I am a little disappointed that Google would do this. If I were Google, my alternative would be to offer "a final" one year of support so that companies which rely on IE6 can plot strategies.

Google dropped the ball here. I expected better from them.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962056)

I am a little disappointed that Google would do this. If I were Google, my alternative would be to offer "a final" one year of support so that companies which rely on IE6 can plot strategies.

Google dropped the ball here. I expected better from them.

Any company still relying on IE6 dropped the ball long before Google.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962058)

They say they had this planned before the hack.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962222)

Perhaps, but they didn't tell anyone.

Moving away from IE6 is a fine thing, but giving people using IE6 a little more of a heads-up (remember, most of the people using IE6 aren't reading slashdot, or announcements from Google, etc) is an even finer thing.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962358)

They have had a "heads up" that IE is shit since forever. If your IT folk are so asleep at the switch that "IE6 sucks and is going away" is a surprise, they need to go back to flipping burgers.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962106)

Nothing can stop you installing Firefox besides IE. They can have IE for their legacy ActiveX intranet stuff, Firefox for anything else.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (1)

Arimus (198136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962164)

Corporate policies can - or are you suggesting ingore your company's policy?

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962218)

how about changing the policy then?

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (2, Insightful)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962282)

Corporate policies can - or are you suggesting ingore your company's policy?

If a company has issues with you "breaking corporate policy" because you install Firefox on your machine, then that's one more reason to quit.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (1)

mixmatch (957776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962318)

And that is why all the arguments being made that the IT departments aren't responsible for companies sticking with IE6 are nonsensical.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962400)

If your business plan means you use one proprietary system (IE) to access another proprietary system, and your support contract doesn't ensure both parties are in lock step, you fucked up.

Any time someone says "don't take away that functionality, I need it for these third party apps", that's a fuck up.

If access is business-critical, don't use a proprietary system where you're at the whim of the vendor. We've all learned that at one point or another, some businesses are slow to learn.

So it might be company policy to depend on a vendor that doesn't care about you - time to change the policy, and expose the fuck up. Worst case, they fire you for complaining, and you get to tell an interviewer you got fired for raising the alarm on an inevitable failure. There's a chance you won't change anything. Anything better than that is an improvement you can probably live with.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (5, Insightful)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962138)

IE6 has long been known to be non-standards compliant and insecure, and quite frankly these companies should have had the foresight to be moving away from it years ago.

Microsoft themselves wants companies to abandon IE6 [arstechnica.com] .

Consider it a little tough love from Google. If they announced they'd end support for IE6 in 18 months, nobody would do anything for the next 15 months.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (1)

el_tedward (1612093) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962150)

If a company has to move a bit faster because they haven't had the brains to move away from IE6, then that's their problem, not Google's.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (4, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962154)

No way. The writing has been on the wall for IE6 for years, both from Google (many of their more advanced products, like Wave, state very explicitly that something more modern than IE6 is needed if you want to partake), and across the internet (Digg, YouTube, etc.). Any IT shop that hasn't already begun plans to migrate away from IE6 by now is just being stubborn, and needs a kick in the pants.

I know why there are so many businesses that won't upgrade from IE6, with their legacy web apps that they refuse to upgrade, but for God's sake, IE8 has compatibility mode. For the good of humanity, upgrade!

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (2, Informative)

espamo (1061728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962526)

I know why there are so many businesses that won't upgrade from IE6, with their legacy web apps that they refuse to upgrade, but for God's sake, IE8 has compatibility mode. For the good of humanity, upgrade!

If by compatibibility mode, you mean compatibility view, according to Microsoft [microsoft.com] it will "display the website as viewed in Internet Explorer 7", not ie6.

Re:I think Google is being reactionary here (2, Insightful)

bobdinkel (530885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962234)

It may seem reactionary, but I suspect the debate about whether to end support for IE6 has been going on for quite some time.

I would be very interested to know what percentage of Google Docs users are still using IE6. I would also be very interested in knowing how much it costs Google to support IE6 (the recent attacks notwithstanding). The development costs of supporting IE6 in any sort of web application are not insignificant. I suspect the percentage of the development budget that Google uses to support IE6 is disproportionate to the percentage of IE6 users.

Dropping IE6 is inevitable. Sure it leaves some people behind, but I'll bet the benefits of doing so significantly outweigh the drawbacks.

Everyone should do this (3, Insightful)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962098)

Seriously, it might sound really "anti-Microsoft" or being pathetic, but everyone should really either be blacklisting or reducing the available functionality of websites to users still browsing with MSIE 6.0

Reducing functionality and putting up a message to let users know that they need to upgrade, would be the best decision.

After all, it's not as if there aren't any [microsoft.com] alternatives [mozilla.com] available [google.com] ...

Re:Everyone should do this (1)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962210)

It's not "anti-Microsoft", it's common sense. Microsoft wants IE6 to go away as much as, if not more than, anyone else. Every day that people keep using IE6 is one more day that they have to spend writing/testing security updates for an ancient product, and dealing with embarrassing stories like this Chinese hacking situation. It's a testament to the stubbornness of many corporate IT shops that even when the rest of the world, including Microsoft, screams "GET RID OF THIS BROWSER!", they don't budge. I was in favor of a slow, phased migration 2-3 years ago, but now I think websites should just start dropping IE6 support with no warning. People need to get the message.

Re:Everyone should do this (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962350)

everyone should really either be blacklisting or reducing the available functionality of websites to users still browsing with MSIE 6.0

Reducing functionality and putting up a message to let users know that they need to upgrade, would be the best decision.

I disagree. I think everyone should just stop considering IE 6 when implementing new features or creating new websites. Just stop worrying about whether it'll work in IE 6.

That requires less effort on our part, but achieves the same end - IE 6 eventually dies. Though the article isn't clear, I strongly suspect that that's what Google is doing; it looks to me as though March 1st is the planned release date for a new version of their web apps, and they aren't going to care if it breaks in IE 6. I'd be surprised if they're actively breaking it for IE 6; it's not worth the effort.

Re:Everyone should do this (0, Flamebait)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962438)

After all, it's not as if there aren't any [microsoft.com] alternatives [mozilla.com] available [google.com]...

Your "any" link is broken. It does not list alternative. Only other version of same piece of sh*t that calls itself a browser.

Upgrade to pretty much anything else. (1)

psYchotic87 (1455927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962124)

Does "pretty much anything else" include IE5?

Re:Upgrade to pretty much anything else. (1)

orique (1733576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962160)

That would be *down*grading.

Re:Upgrade to pretty much anything else. (1)

dsavi (1540343) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962330)

Speaking of that, to quote the article, Google is telling users to "upgrade to pretty much anything else". I find this interesting. Is there any browser better than IE6 that Google does not want people upgrading to?

Re:Upgrade to pretty much anything else. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962398)

Opera didn't seem to be on the list.

Re:Upgrade to pretty much anything else. (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962750)

Would moving to Chrome then be "sidegrading"? ;)

Be evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962190)

Do a genocide of IE6 users. If we can kill 6 million jews, 800,000 tutsis, 50 million communists, 1 million armenians, over 9000 Serbians and others then we can kill the millions of IE6 users. Heil Google, der Internetfuerer.

I think this is just great. (1)

Rexdude (747457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962256)

We keep hearing how IE6 has remained in corporate use because of legacy applications that won't run on anything else. Now considering Google's popularity, all the holdovers will be forced to upgrade if they want to keep using it.
Alternately, we may see an increase in use of other search engines like Bing.

Re:I think this is just great. (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962306)

except that most corporate holdovers arent using googledocs anyway...

Re:I think this is just great. (0)

Rexdude (747457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962418)

TFA says even regular search may not work properly
with IE6 going forward, and that would still be important.

Re:I think this is just great. (1)

milnivlek (1193803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962532)

TFA says even regular search may not work properly with IE6 going forward, and that would still be important.

Where does it say this? Google's blog entry only mentions Google Docs and Google Sites specifically, and there's no indication that this dropping of IE6 support is planned to extend beyond Google Apps (seeing as how the entry was posted by the Google Apps Product Manager). There's no word on the main search interface--and I very much doubt that Google is going to risk losing ~10% of its users to Bing and other alternatives.

Microsoft phases out support for Netscape 4 (5, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962414)

Microsoft is phasing out support for Netscape 4, in retaliation for Google declaring Internet Explorer 6 a "pustulent syphilitic drunken crack whore [newstechnica.com] with no mates. And bad breath. Who smells funny."

Google has given up bothering to support IE6 on its sites, directing the doubtless hideously virus-infected users of the browser to download another browser. Any other browser. "Lynx will give you a vastly superior YouTube experience. Now it will, anyway."

"The Mozilla Foundation has completely failed to fix problems in Netscape 4 that have been around for years," said Microsoft marketing marketer Jonathan Ness. "Furthermore, Firefox gets just as many hacks as Internet Explorer, and pay no attention to my lengthening nose."

In December, Chinese hackers exploited a weak spot in IE6 that Microsoft had only known about since September. Following this, governments worldwide told people to get the hell off IE6, except Britain, which relies on IE6 to leak data when there are insufficient funds for USB sticks or train journeys for civil servants.

Web designers around the world welcomed Google's move, but have not given up their Bill Gates dartboards just yet. "'That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.' Steve Ballmer said that, you know."

Why not run two browsers? (1)

irid77 (1539905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962506)

It's so confusing to me that this is a problem at all. Why can't these companies that have some legacy requirement for IE6 for some internal company database just keep IE6 for that purpose, and have any other browser installed for browsing the actual internet? You could even restrict IE6's access to the local network if needed to direct users.

ie6nomore ftw! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30962678)

http://www.ie6nomore.com/ [ie6nomore.com]

Support for legacy technology, a necessary evil. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962704)

It's a common enough trap. I won't fault Microsoft for evolving their own standards with Internet Explorer, it makes perfect sense when considering the proprietary software model. Here's the trap - when software is obliged to evolve (due to exploits, demands for new functionality, etc.) there's an inevitable question of "pay now or pay later". Every organization I've ever worked for, large and small alike, invariably answer with "Pay later!". You can point out the "interest" associated with that choice and the answer is still "PAY LATER!!". In the opensource world there's certainly a mindset oriented towards staying compatible with the latest stable release of anything, but the proprietary model involves money. Nothing's free, not even an upgrade - if you get it free, it just means they built the cost into something else. Hence the lockin on a legacy technology which is now quite obsolete - hell, even Microsoft themselves have been screaming at everyone to please update to the latest-and-most-mediocre version of Internet Explorer for years now.

Microsoft is like McDonald's - it's not their fault we're stuck with the pain of getting rid of a legacy application - all they did was make us the offer "Pay now or pay later". It's not their fault Corporate America couldn't put down the cheeseburger and back their fat(-cat) butts away from the table.

Why there is no virtual IE6 in sandboxes? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962718)

I am probably asking a dumb question. Why is not there a product that will run IE6 inside a virtual machine? So all those companies that had written software specifically targetting IE6 will run this application, that will watch all the net connections and disk access and permit only very specific whitelisted activity to go on. A real modern browser will be available and slowly they can transition out of IE6. There is money to be made doing this. Why no body is doing this? Or are they doing it already without much publicity?

IBM has always shipped emulators for its previous versions. These emulators are so comprehensive they would run the entire emulator of the previous version in it. Thus there used to be codes written long ago, without source code, without original coders around, that will run inside an emulator for 360 running inside an emulator for 360/155 which runs inside an emulator for 3090 which runs inside an emulator for ....

Why such a solution is impossible for ActiveX application using IE6 as its GUI?

Re:Why there is no virtual IE6 in sandboxes? (4, Insightful)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962790)

Why is not there a product that will run IE6 inside a virtual machine?

There are plenty of tools to do this (MED-V, XP Mode, etc.), but there's no business case for it, except "being more secure".

This can be very hard to sell, so it's not only a technology problem but an organizational one too, because upgrading from "IE6 on XP" to "IE6 in a VM accessed by XP" or "IE6 on a TS accessed by XP" means you'll need to spend a lot of money. You'll need a very good CIO to sell this to the rest of management why this should be done. And if the CIO doesn't think this is a good idea, then there's no chance in hell that this will ever happen.

Re:Why there is no virtual IE6 in sandboxes? (2, Informative)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30962882)

Does it have to be virtual? If you just want to sandbox IE why not just use Sandboxie [sandboxie.com] ?

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