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Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold, Dead Hands

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the let's-blame-the-second-amendment dept.

Internet Explorer 416

Esther Schindler writes "It's easy for techies to enumerate the reasons that Internet Explorer 6 should die. Although the percentage of users who use IE6 has dropped to about 12%, many web developers are forced to make sure their websites work with the ancient browser (which presents additional problems, such as keeping their companies from upgrading to newer versions of Windows). But rather than indulge in an emotional rant, in 'Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out Of Their Cold Dead Hands,' I set about to find out why the companies that remain standardized on IE6 haven't upgraded (never mind to what). In short: user and business-owner ignorance and/or disinterest in new technology; being stuck with a critical business app that relies on IE6; finding a budget to update internal IE6 apps that will work the same as they used to; and keeping users away from newer Web 2.0 sites."

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chrome frame (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220186)

install chrome frame and problem is solved until such businesses get their head out of their collective asses.

Chrome engine and IE6 interface (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220748)

It's like puking on a pile of shit!

Re:chrome frame (1)

postmortem (906676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220798)

My company is blocking any Google Chrome site for that reason.

FIST SPORT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220190)

Frosty piss [goatse.fr]

This is news? (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220208)

It's not a secret that lock-in was why IIS and IE were designed to complement each other. The objective was to kill Netscape and Java by any means necessary. Active-X was a tool to this end.

And now we see the same tools who bought these chains exchanging them for IE8 and Sharepoint when they can. Because that won't be hard to get rid of.

Re:This is news? (0)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220474)

Wait, what?

Back when it was introduced, ActiveX had no legitimate competitors. Although AJAX has considerably leveled the playing field, it's a fairly recent innovation compared to ActiveX (and also one that Microsoft pioneered).

Java was never really an option, given its tendency to be a resource hog when operating inside the browser, difficulty of interacting with non-java workflows and toolkits, and the fact that there simply weren't all that many Java developers around when ActiveX was first introduced.

For better or worse, most corporations use a Microsoft-based workflow, which made ActiveX an attractive option.

Re:This is news? (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220566)

Java appeared a year before ActiveX. It's not exactly a direct competitor though, because Java is a cross-platform distribution mechanism, while ActiveX is a way of packaging Windows applications for Internet distribution. To say it had no legitimate competitors is somewhat misleading, because it doesn't really have a legitimate use either. It's not a web technology, it's a Windows technology. It allows Internet Explorer to be used as a platform for easily deploying Windows binaries to workstations. There are a lot of other tools for doing that, including some quite successful ones from Novell that were widely deployed before ActiveX was introduced.

Re:This is news? (5, Insightful)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220636)

Back when it was introduced, ActiveX had no legitimate competitors.

Yes it did; the native Win32 app. IMHO most of the ActiveX-reliant applications of that day would have been better off written that way anyway. It would have been more portable because it never would have tied them to any particular browser version, and it would have been more usable, too.

Re:This is news? (1, Interesting)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220892)

Yes, on our 66mhz computers with 80mb hard drives.

Re:This is news? (4, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220506)

What I want to know is, will the managers or admins who chose solutions that locked them into an obsolete browser will be fired? Subordinating your business interests to the business interests of your vendor seems like a pretty stupid move, and one that should have consequences.

Re:This is news? (4, Interesting)

Tuidjy (321055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220758)

My guess in general ? No. In the company I work in? Hell, no.

1. The manager is the owner. My disagreement from 2001, the reasons for it, and the suggested alternative are in his inbox.
2. It's been serving us faithfully for nearly nine years. No one gets fired for having engineered something like that.
3. It's trivial to run an emulator with the sole purpose to access our point of sale front end to ANOTHER obsolete app.
4. Rewriting the four sites that will not work with newer versions is not impossible, or that costly. Just unnecessary.
5. In the world of private ownership, department heads don't fire get fired for mistakes in the past, but for failure to handle the present.
7. No one got fired for buying IBM^H^H^H Microsoft.

Re:This is news? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220968)

2. It's been serving us faithfully for nearly nine years. No one gets fired for having engineered something like that.

Really now. And you never had one security breach because of it?

Re:This is news? (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220822)

No - because the current server/client combination works just fine thank you - as far as they are concerned. That's one of the points made in the article.

Re:This is news? (4, Insightful)

Chris Lawrence (1733598) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220922)

Yes, it's just fine, unless you want to move to a different server OS, or a different client OS, or a even a newer version of the *same* client OS. In other words, you've completely removed the ability for IT to make any strategic or tactical decisions. All of these problems could have been avoided with a cross-platform solution, either open source or proprietary. These alternatives did exist, and some companies used them and avoided such lock-in.

Re:This is news? (2, Funny)

Grand Facade (35180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220910)

No one ever gets fired for buying IBM....

Misleading but Common (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220212)

Although the percentage of users who use IE6 has dropped to about 12%, many web developers are forced to make sure their websites work with the ancient browser

No, they are not. They might want to, but they're not FORCED to do this. This means they are part of the problem, because if IE6 didn't work with most sites it would provide another reason to make the free upgrade.

Re:Misleading but Common (1)

symes (835608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220270)

Exactly - tyre manufacturers no longer cater for customers with iron-tyred wooden-spoked cart wheels, why should anyone cater for IE6 users? The world moves on.

Re:Misleading but Common (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220826)

Exactly - tyre manufacturers no longer cater for customers with iron-tyred wooden-spoked cart wheels, why should anyone cater for IE6 users?

There is a market for the wagon and the wagon wheel - and those who will supply it.

Hansen Wheel and Wagon Shop [hansenwheel.com]

Agreed (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220402)

The LedgerSMB project made a decision not to support projects which didn't properly support button elements.

This meant IE6 support and even IE7 support were not going to happen. Finally, we can support IE8.

Really, you only have to support the browsers you think actually need to be supported in order to help your users. Sometimes this includes IE6 (public ecommerce sites, for example). For internal business tools though, there is no justification for supporting that browser.

Re:Agreed (1, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220938)

LedgerSMB: [ledgersmb.org] Open source accounting and E

Open source? Accounting? Narcotics? ... is this legal?

Oh, come on! (1)

judolphin (1158895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220564)

Oh, come on. You're willing to tell 12% of your potential customer to screw off? Just because they're not tech-savvy doesn't mean they don't have money.

Re:Oh, come on! (3, Insightful)

artg (24127) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220744)

Seems there's still a good number of web designers who are prepared to tell 28% (firefox share) of their potential customers to screw off.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

judolphin (1158895) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220800)

That's not any smarter.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220788)

It should depend on whether supporting them increases your costs by enough that the profit margin from the potential extra 12% can't cover it. The problem is that the percentage of your clients that have one or more IE6 clients may be much higher than the 12% of individual browsers that are still IE6. But at this point those IE6 numbers are getting low enough that you should be able to tell your clients, for the few remaining machines that need IE6 for old custom apps, load a modern browser that's properly supported for everything except that old custom app. Whether that browser is Firefox, Chrome, or something else doesn't matter. At this point it's a smart choice from a security standpoint anyways because Microsoft won't be as aggressive about fixing IE6 bugs as they will with IE7 and IE8.

Must be compatible with IE6 (4, Insightful)

Geoff-with-a-G (762688) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220606)

No, they are not. They might want to, but they're not FORCED to do this.

Yes, they are. If you work for a company with more than 10,000 employees (as I do), and if the company's standard browser (deployed and supported by Desktop services) is IE6 (as it is with us), and they pay you to develop a new internal web application (to go along with the 20 others that are already in use and designed for IE6 only) - well... you make it work with IE6 or you find a new job.

Re:Must be compatible with IE6 (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220784)

> ...you make it work with IE6 or you find a new job.

Do you have to make it work only with IE6?

Re:Misleading but Common (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220804)

Well many would lose their jobs or contracts if they didn't. So that is pretty close to "forced".

Even for a business owner, it is almost always strongly against their self interest to drop IE6 support....the tiny benefit they would get from causing people to upgrade (a benefit that is spread among ALL web developers) is insignificant compared to the downside of pushing users away from your site (this downside is not spread among anyone other than yourself). Prisoner's delimma in action.

If your solution (expect web devs to drop support for IE6) relies on people going against their own interest, you should look for another solution.

Re:Misleading but Common (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220816)

The problem is that the people using IE6 have no control over their situation.

I worked in a company and all our browsers were IE6 and the people maintaining the software build just did't care about upgrading.

Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (5, Insightful)

oneandoneis2 (777721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220230)

Sorry, but having RTFA, I still can come back to just one reason for still using IE6: Ignorance.

Okay, so there's companies that have IE6-only apps. That's no reason to not upgrade: Nobody forces you to have only one browser. Even if you don't want to have IE6 and Firefox, you can have two versions of IE itself installed. You can set up the hideously-insecure IE6 to only be able to access the company intranet where you need it, and use IE7 or 8 for the rest of the world where having a more-modern, more-secure browser is useful.

Multiple versions of IE can be done courtesy of here [tredosoft.com] or here [my-debugbar.com]

Old hardware can run Firefox just fine - I used Portable Firefox for years when I was working for an IE-only company. You don't have to use the browser your company installs on your machine if you don't want to.

And as for IE6 keeping people away from sites like YouTube.. I'm not even going to dignify that with a refutation. Anyone who wants to get around that problem could do so without the slightest difficulty in the space of about ten minutes. This sounds more like a fairy story from the IT depertments to clueless PHB's: "Don't worry, boss, we don't need to block YouTube, it doesn't work with our browser. Not get out of my cubicle so I can watch the latest Foamy the Squirrel video, wouldya?"

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220350)

> Nobody forces you to have only one browser.

Many users are too stupid to deal with two.

> Anyone who wants to get around that problem could do so without the
> slightest difficulty in the space of about ten minutes.

Most users are too stupid to deal with that. The rest are smarter than the admins and are going to do whatever they want.

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220576)

Many users are too stupid to deal with two.

Easily remedied -- again, configure IE6 to not be able to access the Internet, and provide a splash screen every time they try explaining how to get there. Also, place a link on their desktop to their internal app -- if you're good, configure it so the IE it opens doesn't have an address bar.

Anyone who wants to get around that problem could do so without the slightest difficulty in the space of about ten minutes.

Most users are too stupid to deal with that.

I doubt it. All it takes is one user who figures it out and publishes a blog post. Then a few other users -- again, it only takes a small number, say one per department -- find said blog post. Before you know it, everyone's doing it.

Put another way, you'd think users are too stupid to pirate things on their own, but all it takes is one person to figure out how to burn a Photoshop CD and defeat the DRM. After that, even if it's a slight inconvenience, they'll do it, because it saves them hundreds of dollars.

Either way, blocking YouTube by blocking IE6 is about the least effective, most headache-prone way to block these things. Don't they have corporate firewalls they could use for this? And any user smart enough to use a proxy is also smart enough to use a portable Firefox.

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220710)

> Put another way, you'd think users are too stupid to pirate things on their
> own...

Most never do.

> Either way, blocking YouTube by blocking IE6 is about the least effective,
> most headache-prone way to block these things.

I never disputed that.

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220610)

For stupid corporate users, it's easy. You label the IE6 shortcut Intranet and you label the FireFox (or Opera or Safari, or whatever) shortcut Web. You configure IE to use a proxy that only goes to the Intranet and you configure the other browser to connect outside. You tell Windows to use the browser you want for the web as the default handler for http URLs.

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220568)

Multiple versions of IE can be done courtesy of here [tredosoft.com] or here [my-debugbar.com]

Also here [tatanka.com.br] Stuck on IE6? Upgrade to Linux! :)

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220774)

I consult for various medical facilities. There are two major billing / records packages that will only work with IE 6. Both 7 and 8 are incompatible. There's even one PACS image web based viewer that freaks out at anything higher than IE 5. That one is easy to get around though. A change in the agent string takes care of it.
Of course, they could change to software that does support newer / different browsers, but the medical community are a pretty conservative bunch. They like to stick with what they know, so for now it's IE 6 or nothing.

Re:Nah.. still all comes down to "idiocy" (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220914)

You don't have to use the browser your company installs on your machine if you don't want to.

Not true. I once worked at a call center where they forced you to use IE6 for all of the internal tools and using anything else got you in trouble, possibly fired.

Ironically, like in many cases where IE6 is enforced, it's because the IT Security team enforced this mandate.

Chained to IE6 (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220258)

My corporate laptop is chained to IE6 because lots of the systems I administer have Java and JavaScript based configuration interfaces which only works with IE6. It fails on alternate browsers and even IE8 has issues (not to mention the fact that you have to have Java 1.4, Java 1.5 and Java 1.6 installed in parallel and switch to the right one for each machine).

Re:Chained to IE6 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220424)

You and your "systems" are the problem. A suppose you'll be telling us you program in COBOL. Listen, "dude", it's time for guys like you to retire.

Re:Chained to IE6 (5, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220618)

The purpose of IT is not to have the latest shiny. The purpose of IT is to support the business. If the business needs a software application that only works in IE6, than you support it. Or you tell your boss that he has to upgrade, and spend a few days playing xbox while you look for a job.

Re:Chained to IE6 (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220890)

The purpose of updating is not to have the latest shiny. It's to not have your business hacked. And this is a genuine risk - businesses are starting to discover that their bank accounts have been raided because they were running IE6, and they got infected, and their bank info got snooped.

It's really frustrating that people think that upgrading is all about getting new goodies. Of course, we create that impression by continually providing new goodies in updates, but we shouldn't buy into the mistake ourselves.

Re:Chained to IE6 (1)

NVP_Radical_Dreamer (925080) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220756)

Not everyone has the ability to change browsers on a whim. There are complicated systems in place at many organizations that simply CANT make the move no matter how much they would like to. We understand the headaches this causes to the rest of the world, but for example I work for a hospital and our PACS system (medical imaging) is a GE product that until recently ONLY worked with IE6 due to activex control requirements. Are you telling me we should abandon a multi million dollar setup just because you want me to use a new browser? Futhermore, we push the vendors to move forward but with FDA certificaton requirements what they are sometimes this is a long arduous process.

Re:Chained to IE6 (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220464)

My corporate laptop runs Windows 7 and XP Mode. From time to time, i need to use IE6. That's when i use XP mode.

Re:Chained to IE6 (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220600)

You could install multiple versions of IE. You could install any other browser and use that instead of IE6 where you can. You could run IE6 in a VM.

You're only "chained" because you don't care.

Re:Chained to IE6 (4, Informative)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220818)

Lets talk again when group policies are present in Firefox/Chrome?

Like it or not, for big IT, these are must haves:
Ability to specify proxy servers and prevent users from modifying them?
Ability to restrict settings, etc etc etc
Ability for Firefox to use the internal windows cert store

The problem is not that IE6 sucks, it is that there are barriers preventing Firefox/Chrome from having a place on the corporate desktop. Why they don't address these I'll never understand.

Re:Chained to IE6 (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31221000)

Then use multiple versions of IE, as the parent suggested. Surely IE8 offers those features?

Old Standards Never Die (4, Interesting)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220300)

Reminds me of this old story of how the design of the Space Shuttle was influenced by the width of a horses butt [astrodigital.org]

Re:Old Standards Never Die (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220400)

Interesting...if somewhat disturbing at the same time.

Re:Old Standards Never Die (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220858)

That is an urban legend [snopes.com] .

Re:Old Standards Never Die (1)

mellon (7048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220904)

Yeah, too bad that story is an urban legend...

Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold Dead Hands (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220302)

Maybe it's because they aren't dead yet?

Re:Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold Dead Ha (2, Funny)

jisatsusha (755173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220388)

You clearly haven't seen the sort of people who run these companies.

Re:Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold Dead Ha (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220570)

Or who wrote the original software. I've been programming long enough to see my old software being scrapped a few times, and to see the results of new software forced to follow old standards. Even when I would have preferred to use more oopen standards, small differences in appearance or usability for non-technical people forced design choices I disliked, and which have effectively cast in bronze as the specification for the same tools going forward.

Re:Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold Dead Ha (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220882)

Well, the boomers will eventually have to retire, even if the great recession has delayed that somewhat. When they do, the newer generations that have grown up with this stuff will be more adaptable and more willing to cast off those bronze shackles.

Re:Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold Dead Ha (1)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220594)

No, it's because they've always been both cold and dead.

Kill Them? (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220310)

Is the author suggesting that we try to solve the problem by killing anyone who still uses IE6?

You Can't Pry IE6 from the Poor, M$ Addicts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220342)

M$ has a hold on the M$ addicts who can't afford a new computer. M$ has used IIS to further strengthen the addiction to M$ Internet Exploder, M$ Windoze, and all M$ products. If it were otherwise those who own older computers would use GNU/Linux rather than the M$ Windoze and M$ Internet Exploder. This is why M$ should be taken apart by the governments of the world, piece by piece. Afterwards the pieces of M$ should be given to the free software movements so interoperability can be acheived.

--
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk.
Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committing suicide.

Re:You Can't Pry IE6 from the Poor, M$ Addicts (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220520)

Afterwards the pieces of M$ should be given to the free software movements so interoperability can be acheived.

      I know you're trolling, but that's the problem. You want everyone to switch to linux, and then you expect interoperability to be developed. It's not going to happen. The interoperability must come first, and then and ONLY then will linux even be considered for anything more than running the servers.\

      Linux is like the DVORAK keyboard - apparently it was/is faster and apparently the layout was more "well thought out" than QWERTY. However you can't expect the whole world to suddenly switch unless there is a clear decisive advantage to investing hours of training and downtime to transition to the new standard. Dvorak is only "marginally" better than QWERTY - and even that small margin in speed is disputed, so it ends up being just not worth the up front cost of switching and retraining.

      The same for linux. Yes it has come far. Yes ubuntu can be run by just about anyone. Yes there are similar apps available in linux. However by design, by omission and due to copyright/patent laws, they are different enough to require substantial investments in switching. Also very few of them have ALL the features available in current Windows software. And big business is showing you that even at X hundred dollars/product cycle, Microsoft products (and products designed only for Windows) are still "cheaper". It's not enough to "clone" current Windows software in linux. Something has to be made that is CLEARLY BETTER. Until then linux will remain the toy OS for nerds, or the stable OS quietly running things in the background invisible to Joe Average.

Re:You Can't Pry IE6 from the Poor, M$ Addicts (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220676)

Something has to be made that is CLEARLY BETTER.

You mean like the security model and the virus / malware protection? (And no the virus problem is not just a market share thing. It also has to do with not running as admin by default.)

Twitter's Ghost (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220994)

M$ Internet Exploder, M$ Windoze, and all M$ products.
M$ should be taken apart by the governments of the world, piece by piece. Afterwards the pieces of M$ should be given to the free software movements.
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk. Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committing suicide.

None of this plays well to anyone in management - or to anyone over the age of consent.

IE6 still exists because Microsoft wanted it too (4, Insightful)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220348)

Microsoft designed IE6 with all sorts of cool interfaces for corporate developers. They then unleashed a wave of evangelists to encourage people to exploit those non-standard extensions, and encourage them to exploit the non-standard quirks. It was a deliberate strategy to gain and hold market share.

It worked. IE6 is unstoppable, even by Microsoft.

Speaking as (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220364)

I'm the husband of a senior exec in a Fortune 500 company which will remain nameless (but you use their products every day anywhere in the world - it's a big one) I have noticed that they still use Windows XP and IE 6. Although my better half isn't in the IT department I have made this observation to her and the apparent reason is that IT is "waiting" to upgrade to Windows 7 (ie, they skipped Vista entirely) and they plan on doing "all the upgrades at the same time". The internet browser is not the key feature for their staff anyway (what really gets used is office and outlook 2007 plus a custom "IM" program). In fact, large chunks of the internet are blacklisted by the IT department. You just can't get there from the company VPN which is the only way to connect on the "company laptop" (good thing they don't know about "Ubuntu" so my wife and I can skype each other when she travels).

My understand is that it's not "ignorance" that is holding back the switch - rather the economic problems set back upgrades of company hardware that were planned for last year and have been pushed forwards to 2011 and the tech boys decided that if they're going to upgrade they'll do everything at once, including the browser.

Re:Speaking as (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220664)

That seems like an exceedingly bad idea, to upgrade everything at once. I understand wanting to minimize the number of opportunities for disaster, but it seems like the logical path would be to upgrade to IE8 first, fix everything that broke, and then upgrade to Win7.

Re:Speaking as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31221030)

Except that if your company if of a certain size, you are going to be hiring extra temp staff to help with the upgrades. You don't want to do that twice (once for the browser upgrade and once for the OS upgrade), so you just wait. Especially if you've done Microsoft upgrades before, where you just know that by the time the new OS comes out something will be fixed/broken/different about how your apps operate with the browser operating on the new OS platform that you were never able to test so you'll have to revisit all the changes you made for the new browser anyway once you have the new OS to review.

Yeah it looks like a braindead way to do it if you don't have the budget sitting in front of you. But when you do have the budget numbers the cost of doing two upgrades looks hard to justify compared to doing one. Even if you have experience doing these kinds of upgrades and KNOW that it's going to be harder on the end-users to do it all at once it doesn't matter. The budget numbers are what they are, and as far as the upper management is concerned the pain of the end-users is worth $0 as far as the budget goes.

Most of the stuff in that article can be summed up as "to upper management, the benefit we get from an upgraded browsers isn't worth the cost to upgrade them at this time". Just because the upgrade itself is "free" doesn't mean that upgrading doesn't carry a substantial cost for the company.

Re:Speaking as (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220834)

That sounds like the most reasonable scenario from a responsible company that's not just burying its head in the ground saying NaaNaaNaaCan'tHearYou.

But otoh I can see where cost keeps a lot of people stuck in the past. Not too long ago I dealt with someone that had a broken down 12 (yes) year old computer attached to a special printer looking thing. It cut posterboard to exacting sizes for poster printing, which was his business. The unit connected via serial port. A new cutter was 20 grand. New software was 8. (obviously one of those niche markets where hardly no one sells the stuff and it's only used by profitable businesses that have to have it, so they gouge you good) The machine was fine, he'd just dropped 2 bills on new blades. The software he'd lost the discs for and it had some nasty copy protection preventing copying the app to another old machine. So ya, he painted... or rather, cemented himself into a nice corner. I don't know what he did, but there was no way to fix his OS without deactivating the software, which could not be reactivated.

And he has no one to blame but himself really. It's not like he knew this day wouldn't come. Or maybe in the back of his mind he just thought maybe it'd work forever, I dunno.

When should FOSS projects stop supporting IE6? (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220374)

The trend of companies/sites dropping IE6 support seems to be gaining momentum. From various Norwegian sites to Google/YouTube.

A few years ago, the feasibility threshold for supporting FireFox (nee standards) seemed to be about 10%; is the reverse true for dropping IE6? Every outdated browser before it seemed to go away much more quietly. When should the FOSS community help to pull this trigger?

Re:When should FOSS projects stop supporting IE6? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220574)

My website is simple and works in IE6 without any special code to handle IE6. Should I make it break in IE6 to help out?

Re:When should FOSS projects stop supporting IE6? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220846)

Depends. If you have absolutely no version checking code anywhere in your site, then I would say NO; just leave it alone and don't worry. But if you do have version checking of any kind at all, to do anything different based on the version number of any browser, even though IE6 was not one of those, then I'd say YES; add the version check for IE6 and redirect them to Upgrade Your Browser [upgradeyourbrowser.org] .

Re:When should FOSS projects stop supporting IE6? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220622)

When Microsoft releases IE7 with its better standards support. Which happened in 2006.

Re:When should FOSS projects stop supporting IE6? (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220654)

Why are F/OSS projects supporting IE at all? Presumably because some proportion of their userbase wants to and is willing to contribute time or money to make this support happen. When should F/OSS projects stop supporting IE6? When no one is willing to contribute the time or money required to support IE6.

So why can't they.. (2, Informative)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220430)

Why can't they use IE8 with IE6 compatibility? That way companies have no reason to be using IE6 for applications where a modern browser would work, and nothing should break. I realize this is too obvious to be a new suggestion, and I know IE8 has a compatibility mode (not sure what version it works with), so either Microsoft has dropped the ball or the higher-ups are more immune to logic and reason than I thought.

Re:So why can't they.. (4, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220698)

Because it is not fully compatible, and with some old applications it just does not work. (Mostly custom apps)

Re:So why can't they.. (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220728)

IE8's compatability mode is almost entirely compatible with IE7 - there differeces enough between it and IE6 that code using IE6 specific hacks and deviations from standard will break.

Re:So why can't they.. (2, Informative)

zonky (1153039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220848)

IE8 has a mode for IE7 compatibility, not IE6, as i understand it.

Re:So why can't they.. (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220912)

because IE 6 compatibility mode is buggy and doesn't work very well?

not that I am complaining it isn't something I want MSFT to fix. IE 6 needs to die.

Re:So why can't they.. (1)

IdolizingStewie (878683) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220990)

My company can't use IE8 with IE6 compatibility because the vast majority of us are still using Windows 2000. (There is a small percentage currently serving as a trial run for the upgrade to Vista, but that's been in the works since I was hired on a year and a half ago)

Take the hardline approach... (1, Insightful)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220436)

... and just start BLOCKING IT.

A lot of companies get themselves into a nice little rut where they will refuse to budge, unless their security / profits are affected. Give them a helping hand by forcing them to drop IE 6. After a while, the number of websites that will be throwing up road blocks in their faces will force them to upgrade.

Or migrate to Firefox, which would probably be better.

If you administer an Apache server, it's more-or-less as easy as,

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} MSIE\ ([56])\.
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !/denied.php$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /denied.php [R=302,L]

Okay, I realise it's often more complicated than that, since they need to test / upgrade from WinXP, etc., there are costs and man power involved, but unless webmasters act on this, we could still be asking people to upgrade IE6 in 2015. Yes, even 9 months after official support ends on XP.

Re:Take the hardline approach... (1)

heffrey (229704) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220596)

Yeah, because turning away customers is always a sure-fire guarantee of success in business!!

Same Reason They Won't Move to Mac OSX... (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220452)

Managers at less than optimally run companies are too busy putting out brush fires or "doing golf".

Anyone in his right mind would figure a way to eventually migrate out of a Windows platform by one method or another JUST TO STAY marginally more safe in the Internet Security arena.

Moving to MacOS X give the opportunity to do work in MacOSX whenever possible and only revert to Windows as needed. What a gift.

Been using both Windows and Mac together for over a decade, since Win 3.11 (if I remember). It just is not that much different to get used to one OS or another or BOTH.

JUST DO IT!

Re:Same Reason They Won't Move to Mac OSX... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220514)

Software for OS X is over priced.

Re:Same Reason They Won't Move to Mac OSX... (1)

heffrey (229704) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220634)

OK, so I'm out of my mind. Thanks for letting me know.

It's a good point you make though, everyone knows that Apple has a fantastic track record when it comes to security.

And what would OS X accomplish? (2, Informative)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220852)

migrate out of a Windows platform by one method or another JUST TO STAY marginally more safe in the Internet Security arena.

From what I've seen out of Apple and Microsoft lately, I don't see conclusive evidence that OS X is any more secure than Windows. At best, you'd get a short reprieve until the malware writers figure out there's a ton more Macs now, and start attacking them.

And in the meantime, you're dealing with a company which has way more lock-in and higher costs than Microsoft.

Why wouldn't they move to something actually better, like Linux? Or Solaris, or FreeBSD, or...

Moving to MacOS X give the opportunity to do work in MacOSX whenever possible and only revert to Windows as needed. What a gift.

Sure, if you happen to like OS X. I know plenty of people who actually prefer Windows.

Been using both Windows and Mac together for over a decade, since Win 3.11 (if I remember). It just is not that much different to get used to one OS or another or BOTH.

You're not in a position to really say much about that, then. I've been using Windows, Mac, and Linux on and off for years now. It's easy for me to get used to multiple OSes.

But most users are used to learning things by rote, and learning all the fiddly little details of what they use. I've seen users completely disoriented because their emails weren't colored correctly, because we upgraded them from one version of Outlook to another, or switched them to Thunderbird. I've seen my English professor have trouble launching a PowerPoint in OpenOffice, because she couldn't find the SlideShow button where she expected it -- she didn't think to look under the "SlideShow" menu, at the first item, called "SlideShow".

Companies look at these, and basically have to weigh the costs of firing a bunch of otherwise-useful employees who simply refuse to improve their computer skills to what we'd expect, or paying to retrain them on a new system, or continuing to throw money at the old system.

Frankly, I think they should just bite the bullet and upgrade, and pay attention to how technologically-adept new hires are in any field. I don't care if your job isn't to program the computer -- your job is to use the computer, so you should be good at that.

Re:Same Reason They Won't Move to Mac OSX... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220972)

No, I believe that reason is that the hardware costs 3 times as much. Most businesses I've worked for spend less than $500 per seat on new machines. You simply can't get a Mac for that. Sure, you can get a mini, but it's not going to come with a display, and it's not going to have the greatest hardware under the hood either.

"Well, it still works....why should I upgrade?" (1)

knapper_tech (813569) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220468)

Stop supporting it. Problem solved. Some people have all day to catch the train. They'll figure it out as sites start rendering incorrectly and giving them a notification to upgrade.

Keeping users away from newer Web 2.0 sites (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220482)

Well there's nothing wrong with that really, Web 2.0 sucks. It invades your privacy and is a huge waste of bandwidth/CPU

Re: Keeping users away from newer Web 2.0 sites (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220866)

...says someone posting on Slashdot.

Move on, they have other options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220492)

With the ubiquitous availability of virtualization, even those who are locked into a legacy web application can upgrade the OS and the browser. A stripped-down OS image with just IE6 can be used to access the legacy app. Nobody can claim they have no way away from IE6, so it is time to end support for it. The burden of supporting an environment for IE6 only software must shift from the web developers to the people who made the mistake of allowing themselves to get locked into that ancient platform. Their complacency can not be our concern any longer. If we don't move on, they never will.

One big valid reason (1)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220544)

Plenty of stuff is still done on Windows 2000. If your business-critical stuff works just fine on Win2K, and you don't NEED a newer machine, then why spend the money to replace the box?

And the fact that your employees can't waste their time goofing off on Web 2.0 sites is just a bonus. Although I do feel sorry for the 1-2 people at my office to whom IT gave a Win2K box instead of XP.

Why expect companies to "upgrade"? (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220546)

Why should businesses keep "upgrading"? Really, Microsoft's OS hasn't changed much in the last decade. Almost everything runs under Windows 2000. Even ".NET" and Direct-X applications tend to work, and all the major open-source applications do. Why pay Microsoft more money? Most of this "upgrading" is planned obsolescence, not progress.

It was different in the 1990s. In the 1990s, Microsoft went from Windows 3.0/DOS, which was awful, to Windows 2000, which was a good OS. Desktop computing made great strides in the 1990s. But by 2000, the problems were solved. In Windows 2000, networking worked, 3D graphics worked, and the system was stable after the first service packs. For most businesses, that was good enough.

In the last decade, Microsoft went through Windows 2000, XP (which was really to pull the Win 95/98/ME crowd onto a decent platform), Vista (enough said), and now Windows 7 (the new, improved Vista.) At the end of this, we have an OS which offers essentially the same API as ten years ago. Not much has really changed.

Most commercial and open source applications work on Windows 2000, and almost all work on Windows XP. Load up the latest Firefox, and all the "Web 2.0" stuff works on Windows 2000. If you don't get too cute with tricky HTML and Javascript, the same code works on IE6 and later browsers.

Worse, Microsoft's newer OSs are oinkers. They need more CPU and more RAM to do the same thing. They phone home to Redmond constantly. They have activation problems. They're constantly getting updates, some of which make things worse. Why should companies pay for this? Where's the return on investment?

Because apparently we're "SAFE"!? (1)

skaarj (180108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220554)

Yes, that was the absurd reason that my company decided they would send out to us all the other day. Whilst I'm sure that our company systems have reasonable defences they're not bullet proof or immune to 0-day attacks.

Plus I expect that CSC (who manage our systems) would love to charge us a fortune for updating to IE[78]...

I Use IE6 (0, Troll)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220560)

I still use IE6 on my personal desktop (Win2000) at home. I've tried others, and keep coming back to IE6 for a few reasons:

(1) It starts instantaneously, while any other browser takes a distractingly long time to start up.
(2) It's the only browser I can get to put all the toolbars I need (including address bar) on one single row under the title bar.
(3) Any other browser insists on throwing tabbed-browsing in my face at some point.

I've never had a virus as long as I've been running it. I understand that it's not standards-compliant, and I'm highly sympathetic to those who need to deal with that pain, but I personally don't. Sites that stop working with IE6 I just go "eh", and stop visiting. It's lightweight and snappy-responsive, and I can't bring myself to let go of that.

Opera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31220718)

Opera supports Win2k.

  • Starts very quickly, quicker than IE.
  • It allows you to disable menu bar and arrange all buttons as you like (with gestures most of the toolbar buttons become unnecessary). There are minimalistic skins available.
  • You can disable tabs (SDI mode) in preferences.

Costs on the long run? (1)

fysdt (1597143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220592)

Upgrading IE6 could cost a lot of money which is probably why a lot of companies aren't upgrading it (e.g. applications that depend on it). Wouldn't IE6 cost a lot of money on the long run?

Why upgrade? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220668)

OK, let's look at this in a business perspective.

You have technology which works "good enough". Why change? If you change you then have to upgrade to newer versions of software, either vendor supplied or developed in-house. You can end up on the "upgrade treadmill". This means you must rewrite software and upgrade hardware in a cascading manner all across you business.

Writing software can be a crap shoot and ERP software does not have a good reputation. Why fix what isn't broken? Software rewrites can be very expensive and a business must focus on sales and their products. If the upgrade only gives the same functionality and costs $$$$$$ to upgrade, why do it? Software development can be a big risk. There's no guarantee it will work without lost time and years of fixes.

Can the IT department assure a very high level of success and cost control? Can their new whiz bang technology work better than what has developed over years, perhaps a decade or more? IT projects like this have a huge possibility of failure, from an empirical POV. Also there is the risk of introducing *more* security risks by deploying untestd software.

It also is ironic that the consultants which sold the IE6 only apps, now probably long gone, have locked the customer out of upgrades.

So let's look at site lock out. Most security breaches are *not* done by crackers. They are done by employees either being stupid or malicious. Blocking off social networking sites makes sense. This isn't a bad form of risk control.

Let's look at ignorance. the reason many people don't know is that they don't have to know. If it doesn't require fixing, then it doesn't exists. Sort of like the old sayings "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" and "out of sight out of mind.

Note that many of these reasons are the same reasons there is so much COBOL running around.

IE6 (2, Interesting)

suzieque (1740694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220670)

Is it me or has Firefox got clunky lately? I used to use IE6 for my sins and converted over to FF but that is now heavy... Thought about Chrome but don't like giving the big G too much data or power than it already has..

Just don't use IE6 on the internet (0, Troll)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220714)

If they want to use it internally, that's fine. Just don't use it for general net access. To accomplish that end, web sites should reject attempts to access using IE6 to make it so unworkable as an internet browser that people/companies will at least let their users that should be accessing the internet have an alternate better browser to do so with (never mind what that is). Redirect to a browser upgrade page or something.

Primavera Expedition (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220836)

I'd love to ditch IE6, but we can't because of this one app. Our version is outdated, yes, but with the buyout by Oracle it's a mess and the costs and upgrade almost impossible. Our hands are tied. Large sweeping generalized comments always sound simple, but the reality is that we are not alone.

IE6 compatability is *not* a valid excuse (2, Interesting)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31220870)

The company I work for creates web based software used by large (by UK standards) banks and I can tell you that the vast majority of their userbase is stuck on IE6. The usual reason for this is compatability with old apps, and IE6 is not as backwards as they get - one of the mortgage processing/calculating apps used when I was sorting the paperwork for my flat was DOS based.

But compatability is *not* a valid excuse for not installing something newer. It *is* a reason for not installing IE8 (you can't run IE8 and IE6 on the same machine without virtualisation of some completely unsupported hack), but it doesn't stop them putting on Firefox/Chrome/Opera/... alongside IE6 and just letting IE6 live for as long as the older apps live (which may be some time given my witnessing of a DOS based app in business-as-usual use two-ana-half years ago).

They will not upgrade from "IE6 and only IE6" until the cost of doing so (design/testing/roll-out of new desktop builds, extra support time needed because if they go for the two browser stop-gap it will confuse many of their should-sacked-from-jobs-that-are-well-documented-to-require-computer-competence-for-not-being-able-understanding-such-things staff, paying for old software to be fixed/upgraded, and so on) is outweighed by the cost of staying where they are (those costs basically amounting to not being able to use certain software/sites (but they are big enough that saying "we'll consider your app if you support IE6" neatly sorts that) and looking like neanderthals (but the general public will never know and is doesn't really matter to them what us techies-in-the-know think)).

They have IE6 apps, you see it everywhere (4, Interesting)

gig (78408) | more than 4 years ago | (#31221016)

Many custom corporate apps built between 2002-2006 were called "Web apps" but were really "IE6 apps". In the late 90's they would have been Windows apps built with Visual Basic. Companies thought they were modernizing to the Web but really just got a different kind of Windows app.

It continues with IE7 and IE8 ... these browsers are so incapable that, for example, a rich text editor for them is done as ActiveX instead of as HTML5, so you can't run the app anywhere but IE. Now that these companies are often running multiple platforms (Windows XP, Windows Vista/7, Mac OS, iPhone, Blackberry) they are getting bitten on the ass. It's like Y2K in that the future was never supposed to happen.

Microsoft succeeded in forking the Web. This is the aftermath. That's why HTML5 compatibility is so important, the focus on browser vendors in the spec means that Apple WebKit and Mozilla Gecko engineers do a lot of work to make their browsers compatible with each other. You have WebKit redoing canvas in the standard way, redoing Gears in the standard way. If you're locked into any one browser or one hardware that is not the Web, it is by definition only what's completely universal. If it's not universal (IE, Flash) it's not part of the Web.

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