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Who Is Still Using IE6? the UK Government

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the increased-customer-enragement dept.

Government 141

strawberryshakes writes "The death knell for IE6 was sounded a couple of years ago, but seems like some people just can't let go. Many UK government departments are still using IE6, which is so old — 11 years old to be exact — it can't cope with social media — which the government is trying to get its staff to use more to engage with citizens."

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Behind the Times (5, Funny)

Linsaran (728833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029263)

Good to see the US government isn't the only ones.

Re:Behind the Times (2)

Ashenkase (2008188) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029477)

Can add large sectors of the Canadian government to the list as well.

Re:Behind the Times (2)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029689)

I've been to some large company HQs like Tesco and VW and even large offices for IBM, all still stuck to IE6.

Brand new Tesco by me all their tills, stock control, e-mail, quite literally everything is done within IE6.

Their software requires IE6 and they are not likely to change soon.

Re:Behind the Times (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030129)

A lot of retailers are stuck on IE6...I think it has to do with the industry's absolute hatred of ever actually spending money on internal improvements until it's become a ridiculous liability.

I know from personal experience that CompUSA used IE6 before they crashed and burned, and Home Depot ran a lot of shit through it as well. At least at CompUSA the workstations weren't restricted from running other browser software, although we'd get bitched at about it from time to time when people would bypass the blocks and find ways to pull up pron on them...it was always a joy bringing a customer over to the workstation to show them the technical specs on a laptop to be greeted by a big old pair of titties when I opened FF.

So does that large US phone company (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030547)

Their customer support reps use it. Apparently they have an ActiveX widget that only works on ie6. Sucks to develop other web apps for their use.

Shouldn't name them, but if u are reading this please upgrade.

Re:Behind the Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030925)

Yup - still using it on our intranet.

Re:Behind the Times (1)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 2 years ago | (#40032387)

And add NZ Governement Departments.

One of our issues stopping a company wide upgrade is other software that has dependancies on IE6 that just aren't stable with 8.

We have the same issue with upgrading office from beyond 2003 (so thankfully our IS department is yet to get the screams of "I hate this ribbon")

but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029279)

They never buy NEW pc ?? Last time I installed some for my company I didnt had the choice, IE6 wasn't there...

Re:but... (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029309)

New PC, old OS. Microsoft did a really good job locking people into IE. So good that many people still haven't escaped.

Re:but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029341)

Still, last time I checked I couldn't buy license for XP...

Re:but... (3, Insightful)

RMingin (985478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029529)

Sure you can. Buy more than 100 seats of Windows 7 Pro, with Software Assurance, and self-downgrade before the initial install. Besides, most 100+ seat businesses use a custom OS image anyways. Easy enough to make it an XP Pro image, if you can find drivers for everything.

Re:but... (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030151)

And MS doesn't mind either because you buy 2 licences:
-The OEM version that comes with the new PC
-the Software Assurance version that bought extra.

Re:but... (1)

RMingin (985478) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030411)

It's a damned good racket, but it can be done. Just give enough money to MS, and they'll let you do anything you want.

Mind you, XP is solidly into security-patches-only support, and even that's drawing to a close, so I'd imagine the UK is looking into installing lots of firewalls over the next year or two, or they're even less intelligent than I gave them credit for.

Re:but... (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031261)

In practical, brass-tack terms, IE6 should be considered completely unsupported at this point and a grave security risk if you use it to access the actual internet.

Using it for intranet-only stuff (presumably, because there's something proprietary in there that would cost a lot of money to upgrade or replace) does not present the same level of risk, provided you set it up so that IE6 can *only* access the intranet stuff, not the outside-world internet. (This can be done with judicious use of IE6's security zone policies.)

But this is mostly a big so-what, because It's not like IE6 is useful for browsing the internet these days anyway: fewer than half of the websites on the internet will render successfully, and that percentage is falling rapidly now, mostly due to the lack of any significant amount of CSS support. Some sites also run into problems with IE6 because of the way it handled XMLHttpRequest, which is slightly different from how modern browsers do it. Sites that care about supporting IE6 can easily work around that, though. (IE6 *has* XMLHttpRequest; it's just accessed slightly differently. A simple wrapper function that tries both makes the problem go away.) The lack of CSS support is the larger problem, as it takes a lot of effort to work around, and most web content developers stopped bothering when IE6 usage share fell below 1% a couple of years back.

Just for example, if IE6 is your only browser, you can forget about using any of Google's web-based services beyond the basic web search. YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Groups, you name it, they all don't work in browsers that old. Google is far from alone in this.

Ironicially, it's so painfully hard to keep more than one version of IE installed at once, that organizations that still need IE6 will necessarily find themselves using a different browser altogether for accessing the actual internet, which is presumably not exactly what Microsoft had in mind when they worked so hard to get companies locked in to IE6.

IE7 will not be far behind, I imagine. A couple more years, maybe. Currently my numbers say its usage share has already fallen below 5%, about _half_ of what it was one year previous. That's a very rough figure (based on usage of one site), but when you graph it over time the trend is absolutely impossible to miss: the IE6 share line is merging into the positive X axis, and the IE7 line looks like it's getting ready to follow. New version uptake for IE is faster than it used to be (probably due in large part to Automatic Updates being turned on by default since XP SP2). It still makes new version uptake for the webkit browsers look virtually instantaneous, mind you. But it's faster than it used to be.

Re:but... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029935)

Governments have a way of getting special deals that aren't available to people on the street.

Re:but... (2)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030097)

This is pretty standard in the Microsoft volume licensing agreement. There's lots of corporations doing the exact same thing. How do you think XP hung around so long after it wasn't for sale anymore?

Re:but... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030147)

As can the humongous retailers that are buying tens of thousands of licenses at a time...

Re:but... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029361)

They never buy NEW pc ?? Last time I installed some for my company I didnt had the choice, IE6 wasn't there...

FTFS:

Many UK government departments are still using IE6

Not all ... though even one is too many these days. Let's hope they don't have any IE 5 or old Netscape browsers hiding in unused bathrooms in the basement.

IE6 is so old! (0)

WhatAreYouDoingHere (2458602) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029297)

IE6 is so old.
How old is it?
IE6 is so old, when it was a kid, it never blew out candles on its birthday cake. They didn't have fire yet

Re:IE6 is so old! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029615)

Dude, eleven isn't old.

I'm forty-four and I can't cope with social media either.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029701)

Dude, eleven isn't old. I'm forty-four and I can't cope with social media either.

If you were a web browser, you'd be featured in the Smithsonian, with maybe a small paragraph on Wikipedia on the history of web browsers, at best.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030337)

Eleven is extremely old in Internet years.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030749)

I'm not sure I'd qualify IE 6 as 11 years old . Sure it was released in 2001, but until October 2006, it was the only browser offering from Microsoft. So I think that I would almost like to say that it's less than 6 years old. That is, if you were in charge of IT at some company, and you had to standardize on a browser in January 2006, what would you have chosen? Chrome wasn't out.Firefox (1.0) had just been released a bit over a year before that. So a bunch of goverment departments haven't changed browsers in the last 5 years. So what. It's not that surprising.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030975)

Shoot IE 8 just supported 1998 CSS 2.1 standards. The frustrating thing is all the other browsers are cutting edge now. IE 9 is ok, but that long lapse shouldn't be an excuse. Ms should be ostracized for it!

Imagine a world where we had to still support gcc 2.95 and VC++ 5, but it also had to compile in GCC 4.6 and VS 2010, and made sure all our code would compile flawlessly without error between those 2 versions? The changes in C++/C are huge with STL support and so on.

The whole point of switching to intranet apps was to avoid a nightmarish scenario like this. They were promised that it was write once, no need to deploy, anywhere forever. It turns out it is easy to upgrade legacy desktop apps then it is for intranet sites.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031027)

Firefox's distant relative, Netscape existed at the time, I remember using it back in 1999, so IE wasn't the only choice.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031165)

Yikes, Netscape's CSS support made IE 6 look like a compliant saint.

Webmasters back then made sites that looked liked Craigslist and stuck with tables and HTML because Netscape blew so bad. I eventually switched to IE 6 in 2002 and couldn't believe the difference and how much better it was and faster. It sucked goatballs of course but back then what choice did you have? Netscape 4.7 came out in 1998 was already 4 years old! Just a minor improvement over Netscape 4.5 which came out in 1997.

By 2001 Netscape was becoming obsolete fast and was worse than IE 6 if you can believe anything was worse. It wasn't until Firefox that anything was even better.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031167)

Yeah, but looking at the usage history [wikipedia.org] it wasn't very widely used in 2006. So, while it still existed, no competent IT person would have recommended it for company wide deployment. If you look at Usage data [wikipedia.org] for Q1 2006, you'll see that IE is up around 90%. This is why IE 6 is still around. Because for a 5 year period after it's release, IE was used by more 85% of users.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031317)

That is, if you were in charge of IT at some company, and you had to standardize on a browser in January 2006, what would you have chosen? Chrome wasn't out.Firefox (1.0) had just been released a bit over a year before that. So a bunch of goverment departments haven't changed browsers in the last 5 years. So what. It's not that surprising.

There is a huge difference between specifying the default browser for the desktop and specifying a web app should only work with that browser. One is a reasonable decision, the other shows a lack of vision.

Re:IE6 is so old! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031439)

I'm not sure I'd qualify IE 6 as 11 years old . Sure it was released in 2001, but until October 2006, it was the only browser offering from Microsoft. So I think that I would almost like to say that it's less than 6 years old.

So, your 11-year-old child would only be five because she didn't have any siblings until six years ago? Good luck with that.

Re:IE6 is so old! (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031773)

So, your 11-year-old child would only be five because she didn't have any siblings until six years ago? Good luck with that.

No, see, that's how it works with computer software; the date we're interested in isn't the date of introduction but the date of supersession. In this case that was only six years ago. Until, say, a year before that tops it didn't make sense to try to aim for IE7, and if you were committed to using a platform browser you were therefore targeting IE6. I was glad someone had figured out what year all this had happened because I didn't want to look it up.

Schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029323)

my school in Germany also uses ie6. but well it is just a school, but because it is an integrated part in the it system of the town it is likely, that ie6 is used there as well.

Let go? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029367)

It's not about "letting go" - I'm sure it's about the cost of upgrading thousands (tens of thousands?) of systems. Not just the licensing of the software, but also the cost of execution and management of the upgrade, and then the upgrade of all the applications, training on new versions, rewriting an ass ton of security and management policies, and years of churn getting the kinks out of thousands of systems, and the loss of productivity while switching over, and... (I'm sure with a couple more minutes thought I could come up with five other angles of cost).

The summary makes it seem like they're holding on for sentiment, and that they're shooting themselves in the foot by sticking with tried and true software. The summary hasn't given any voice to the enormity of the task (it's not a simple "derr, click the upgrade button stupid"), nor the idea that this is government money which can and arguably should be used in more critical areas of life.

Are slashdot editors really this shortsighted?

Re:Let go? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029487)

One could still think that the time would have come to suck it up and pay the cost for a bigger upgrade, just to not be using ancient systems forever.

Re:Let go? (5, Insightful)

Wulfrunner (1213776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029603)

I recognize you! You work for the [insert government here] ITS department down the hall from my office. You and your just adequate, barely competent colleagues are the reason I'm stuck with a brand new, yet somehow still limping, T520 that takes four minutes to start. You are the reason I can't "exceed the level of my cluster". You are the barrier to innovation. The attitude you just espoused is the reason our monolithic organization is stuck in the stone age. How is it that you guys can take five years and one billion dollars to develop an application that is buggy, user un-friendly, doesn't do the job it's supposed to, and cripples the department it's supposed to be helping by eating their entire IT budget. You and your colleagues have never heard of Brooks' law, are complacent, risk averse, and unimaginative. I hate you.

Re:Let go? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030021)

Don't go blaming the IT departments so quickly. Blame the contractors, and those who purchase said contracts. While I can certainly point fingers at some terrible in-house public sector IT departments, they're not all bad, not by a long shot.

I'm posting AC for business confidentiality reasons: my company provides web software (business stuff, not the main site) for the UK National Institute of Health Research [nihr.ac.uk] . They're our first (and only) public sector client. I had to liaise quite a lot with the previous supplier, with regards to migrating data out of the old system. I simply could not believe how awful it was. It seemed to be designed from the ground up to require maximum maintenance, and apparently there were 5 staff members at the contractor who worked full time on supporting the business logic. Not on updates or new features, just on keeping it working.

When we were negotiating the contact with them, they wanted a clause that said if we failed to provide them with any software at all, they got 50% of their money back. That shocked us. Just how bad is the public sector IT culture that they felt they'd only be entitled to half their money back if they got nothing for it?

The previous suppliers told us they wouldn't be able to provide the data extracts we required until several months after the go-live date, so we then entered into a big wrangle to let us get a copy of their database and do it ourselves. This was a wrangle because they wanted to protect the "trade secrets" or "intellectual property" of the data model itself. Which was awful btw; I ended up with a 35-page print out of it sellotaped together on the wall, manually drawing in lines where all the foreign keys ought to have been.

We got the migration done to the client's satisfaction in the end, but this wouldn't have been possible without a bunch of IT guys at NIHR's end who were pretty damn competant, and very willing to get stuck in. I can't say as much for the contractor's guys, though. We ended up with a TUPE [out-law.com] case against us, with them arguing that we had a legal obligation to hire them on, even though we were providing a completely different system (i.e. one that worked).

Anyway, that's a bit of a rant. In conclusion, if IT seem like they're a wee bit shit, then they might be, or alternatively, they might be having to deal with a lot of shit from elsewhere.

Re:Let go? (2)

Wulfrunner (1213776) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030125)

Yes you've got a valid point -- procurement in government is just as broken as the overall IT infrastructure. On the other hand, if someone isn't willing to raise a stink and put their job on the line to prevent a disaster of that nature, they don't deserve to call themselves a public servant. The "lowest bidder" is not the same thing as the "best value", and you have to be willing to fight for what's right.

Re:Let go? (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030225)

IE 6 was a great bet to make in 2003.

If you read Hall of Fame stories on slashdot there is one called what keeps you on Windows? IE 6 and how great a browser it is was a top response. Compared to Netscape IE 6 was years ahead with this new thing called CSS.

There was no Firefox, Safari, or Chrome back then. People were betting on standards and it was easily assumed that the MS box model and VBscript would be used today just like people view Windows. Shamefully, after reading about how great IE 6 was on slashdot I started using it too in 2002 - 2004 before Firefox .7(phoenix).

People tend to remember the past differently based on the present and its thinking XP is the best OS ever today after encountering Vista, to the oppose with IE 6 which is a piece of crap in 2012.

Don't blame the contractors as betting IE 6 was the logically thing to do until about 2007 are so when Firefox appeared it could actually compete and not be a fringe geek thing. Many websites too only worked on IE 6 or complain that you were running Netscape and used tables and no CSS at all if you used early Firefox or Mozilla until about 2008.

Re:Let go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40031237)

You make a lot of sense. I used IE6 until 2004. It was actually quite fast when it came out. I heard about Mozilla Firebird, so I downloaded it and it turned out to be shit. It was slow, kept crashing, did something weird with HTTP that got me banned from an online game I used to play, etc. I then got introduced to Opera, which I still use to this day, but since Opera 7 didn't work with 20% of sites, I had to use IE6 for much longer. I only really started using FF as my "compatible" browser in 2008.

Re:Let go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030615)

just read an article about a large bank that still does most paper work on WP5.1, they had no intentions of changing that, it still works and it would be an enormous
task to reimplement it on something else.

 

Re:Let go? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031127)

The British army is one of the culprits, I know this because we've developed software for them and still have to support IE6 to this day. They have plans to do away with it but they just get put back further and further.

The problem is how, in a time of budget cuts, can you possibly justify upgrading every computer in the army to IE6 vs. making sure your soldiers fighting in Afghanistan have body armour, helicopters to avoid IEDs and so forth?

It's just not a priority. The threat of cyber attack causing any actual measurable harm is negligible compared to IEDs etc. - even something on the scale of Wikileaks'/Manning's US cable leaks did less harm to people's lives than the odd IED here or there has done.

Upgrading IE6 is something the army can save for peace time when they get the fuck out of Afghanistan and are sat around with nothing better to do and nothing better to spend their money on.

Re:Let go? (1)

BumpyCarrot (775949) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031689)

Are slashdot editors really this shortsighted?

"Posted by timothy"

'nuff said.

Yeah, tell me about it (5, Interesting)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029379)

I'm a web developer for an organisation that builds web based software that is primarily used by UK local government departments.

IE6 is my nemesis.

A lot of these local authorities are slowly starting to upgrade to Win7 platforms (just in time for Win8), but just like a chain being only as strong as it's weakest link, we have to ensure we are developing for the slowest common denominator.

From the dozens of conversations I've had with Council IT teams around the country, it isn't a lack of will or of motivation or of education, but of a real (and partially justified) fear that if they upgrade to Win7, some essential legacy web based application that works flawlessly in IE6 and XP, will fall over when introduced to IE8. This has happened at various places around the country and has cost Councils a pile of money to fix the issue or to replace those legacy systems. In the post recession cost-cutting world, no one wants to be the guy who lands their employer with a huge bill. I expect we wont see the stragglers taking up the challenge until austerity is done and dusted.

And there you have it. I managed to make this all the coalition government's fault. My work here is done.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029421)

XP Mode. If they fail, it's indeed the government IT's fault - for not deploying it with the XP machine included.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030241)

XP Mode. If they fail, it's indeed the government IT's fault - for not deploying it with the XP machine included.

Yeah - let's kick the can further down the road. That will solve the problem!

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030767)

Isn't that how all governments operate, especially when it comes to debt and spending.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029423)

Yeah the problems are that the government

1) feels the need to upgrade what isn't broken - there is no need for employees to "interact with social media" or such bullshit;

2) has fired all its civil servants so businesses with friends in the civil service are given work instead.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030223)

1) feels the need to upgrade what isn't broken

IE6 is very, very broken. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for people who have to use it), it's also almost completely dead. The day is coming when it will be literally impossible to run an IE6-compatible system without buying expensive legacy-compatible hardware or hosting it inside an emulator.

Consider that IE6 on Windows XP was released in 2001. Two years from now, this will be as ancient as using IE5 (released in 1999) on Windows 98 would be today. Can you imagine how fun it'd be to have to support that combination in your IT department? Can you even buy new hardware that would boot Windows 98 outside of specialty orders? Would you really want to host VMWare, etc. on the desktop of every user who needed it? Well, we're within not-so-many months of that being the same situation for IE6 on XP. Yeah, I can see why someone might want to "upgrade what isn't broken", even if you miss the Good Old Days.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030465)

The problem is it is not broken at all to the accountants.

CNN, MSNBC, and all the corporate websites that people use at work all work fine with it. Why upgrade to something we already have? Until these sites stop working the PHBs and the finance people will demand users stay on IE 6 so the share price can keep going up some more.

Trust me to these people we *would* still be running Windows 98 until the end of time and *never* upgrade ever. That costs money after all and we are in the x business. Not an I.T. company so its all a cost center anyway that ads no value etc.

Google is making steps. I fired up my IE 6 in a VM and noticed a couldn't even check my gmail anymore. I hate the new style but I give a bravo to Google for forcing these users and giving them a reason to upgrade crying and screaming like a todler. Unfortunately, these coompanies will just use Office265 and cancel Google Docs so they can keep IE 6 and XP just a little longer sign.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030983)

The problem is it is not broken at all to the accountants.

Then I think those accountants are inappropriately insulated from the pain of their decisions. If decade-old software is good enough for other employees, then Office 2000 should be good enough for them.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031083)

I am beginning to resent them greatly. Accountants are also making critical medical decisions and ordering doctors on what to do if you have a crappy HMO as well. Accountants are the ones making almost every business decision and who are becoming the next CEOs.

They are great at reducing costs and that is it. Of course the accountants have Office 2010 they are a profit center and unlike you and I are very important people. But IT, UGH go back to putting out fires, we have real work to take care of etc.

Meanwhile they are dumbfounded when the network goes down and when customers go to competitors due to the low quality brought by excessive cost cutting. Accountants should make accounting decisions and it is ruining business for the last 10 years.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40031527)

E6 is very, very broken.

It works in precisely the same way it did when it was "new". It Runs web based applications using ActiveX. The webapps have been upgraded a long way but they were and still are written specifically to support IE6 only. We have been told to try out IE7 with some of them now and that is pretty dire. They will not even look at modern browsers - we have tried but blank white boxes are not terribly useful.

"Why didn't anyone point out that using IE6 and Activex was not the best idea?" you might ask. Many of us did. So did those in senior positions at the time. This was laughed off by highly paid experts who knew that MS, IE6 and ActiveX was the future and anyone who thought different was incompetent and or "tecchies". There is a complete dismissal of competence and knowledge amongst those at the top. I understand that this is not just the UK but most civil services have the same problem. The people in charge consider background knowledge a beacon of unsuitability for a post. Go and watch Yes Minister. It's still true.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40031323)

Sometimes facebooking the UK immigration people pushes your visa application a bit further. My neighbour has tweeted his electricity company (OK not government) and got a problem fixed that 2 hours on the phone didn't.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029465)

It's a simple choice really. They can upgrade and modernize the systems or they can go back to pen and paper. Just take away Parliament's salary for a month and that would pay for the upgrades.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030059)

Running systems in parallel until everything works as expected seems like the normal solution, nut every goverment system seems to move wholesale to the new system and then pretend the old one has died in a road accident and can never be used again.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030881)

Running systems in parallel until everything works as expected seems like the normal solution,

Piloting things before nation wide deployment is also fairly normal but this is government we are discussing. Normal is not part of the scenery.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031667)

Most choose to run an initial pilot with a few hundred users, then, after 6 months or so of successful running, they'll begin to transition over. It can still take 2-3 years from the decision being taken to the final user being upgraded.

So the upshot is, people like me will still have to work with IE6 for at least a couple more years.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (2)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030069)

From the dozens of conversations I've had with Council IT teams around the country, it isn't a lack of will or of motivation or of education, but of a real (and partially justified) fear that if they upgrade to Win7, some essential legacy web based application that works flawlessly in IE6 and XP, will fall over when introduced to IE8. This has happened at various places around the country and has cost Councils a pile of money to fix the issue or to replace those legacy systems.

GOOD! Those same groups didn't want to listen when we told them that writing to a single browser with it's non-standard quirks and single-platform pathogen vector of a plugin architecture was a bad idea. I'm going to use this as a warning to my clients: "you don't want to write this to run on IE-only. Remember what happened with IE6 and how much it cost to fix that boondoggle?"

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030383)

A lot of these local authorities are slowly starting to upgrade to Win7 platforms (just in time for Win8), but just like a chain being only as strong as it's weakest link, we have to ensure we are developing for the slowest common denominator.

I see this point of view a lot with web developers and when fully realized, it means that you're stuck writing markup and scripts that are a decade behind current standards.

I argue the reverse. Write for current browsers but provide support for older browsers. That way, you remain current as a developer. Besides, with IE conditionals and writing scripts that check for features as opposed to implementation, IE6 really is not that big of a deal. I find the the hard part is supporting older versions of FireFox or Opera or developing pages that gracefully fail without ruining my user's experience. .

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030789)

Are you crazy?

IE 6 is not just a decade old. Its DOM is different, its box model is different, the way it wraps text when a box is full is different, its javascript is different, and I could go on and on.

I am learning IE 6 now and let me tell you I can't make a site look as good. Sure I can get a butt ugly basic site with no floating css or shadows or any graphical animations in CSS 3 and use hacks like CSSPIE which slow IE 6 down to glacial speeds. This does not count the bugs.

I see the bean counters view it just works but until you stop supporting IE 6 they will see your site and say AH HA its fine! That billy gates was wrong saying IE 6 is a PITA. Other web browsers sucked too and were not standards compliant in those years including Opera and old Firefox.

Don't support them. Opera is not that great and not used outside of Russia and not worth the hassle to support in the US. I am only learning IE 6 because my business idea supports enterprise users. I will support FF 3.6 as many still use that but nothing older. Next year these corporations will finally be upgrading to IE 10 and getting ready for the EOL. I will finally cancel all support for FF 3.6 and IE 6 & 7 as these are legacy images.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

WankersRevenge (452399) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031483)

Inconsistency is one thing all browsers share and if you are a developer worth your salt, you learn to innovate around them instead of blaming the technology. And yes, if the bean counters use ie6, you support ie6.

Like I said, by using conditionals to produce extra markup and load css sheets, support isn't that difficult. I also recommend you learn the try/catch block in javascript which is present in IE6.
.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40032303)

While you are making separate CSS and doing regression testing, I am making twice the amount of websites doing things that would require flash on your browser, using text shadows, smooth rounded corners, and AJAX that your browser can't handle which works on any modern browser. It will blow yours away.

Please stop supporting old browsers. You are working for free and endangering the security of your workplace and internet and putting external costs onto yourself by giving up your free time after 5pm and the free time of other web developers so the cost accountants can get their bonus.

It is time to let things go and IE 6 was one of the worst products ever made. Image what world we would be in if we had to support Netscape and IE 2.0 today? In the old days people upgraded their browser every year and it is returning to that today.

Enough

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40031541)

Oh shut up. Old Operas and FFs were generally quite standards compliant. If something works in FF it will work in the latest Opera, unless you use the -moz extensions, so you don't need to bother "supporting" Opera. Also, Opera modifies itself to deal with crappy sites (like the ones designed by you).

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031695)

About 1/2 of our users use IE6 either because their IT team don't allow them to use anything else or because the users don't know anything else exists. 50% of your user base is that much of a big deal.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40032543)

Whats the website?

The statistics I see tell Ie 6 having 1% of all users in the US.

Re:Yeah, tell me about it (1)

qu33ksilver (2567983) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031275)

Same here bro! High five to that. Working CSS in IE6 is a real nightmare. I have to split my hairs to find out the most cumbersome CSS hacks for the site to work in IE6. Support for IE6 should be really stopped. The amount of effort we developers spend to make it work in IE6 is much more than if the users were forced to move out of IE6. True story.

Same Story in Germany (1)

nicovl (222095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029393)

In Germany most IE6 users also come from government institutions... I guess that with the general laziness of IT admins, we shouldn't be surprised that the ones working for the government are the laziest :)

Re:Same Story in Germany (4, Interesting)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029655)

As a IT admin, I can attest we are not all lazy. It more often then not is a matter of pulling upper levels of the business kicking and screaming into modern times by spending some money to make sure things still work. They would often rather spend tons of money maintaining old OSes on modern hardware then make sure old software they feel is critical actually gets fixed to work on modern OSes.

It's even crazier when they then want some ancient IE6 based web app to miraculously work on their shiny new Ipads and don't understand that they simply won't work. I have had a a CEO complain that we need to put IE6 on his Ipad because he needs to run X web app that was made 15 years ago and only works in IE6. He refused to accept that an Ipad will not run IE6, to the point where he even cursed at us and demanded we install Win XP on his Ipad to 'make it work'.

Most of us IT admins know that we have to get this stuff working and get them off of systems often setup before we were even hired. Getting large businesses and governments to do such things though is at times futile.

Re:Same Story in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029967)

If the problem is specific old web applications, wouldn't an easier path be to install e.g. firefox as the default with e.g. IETab configured to show those specific urls using IE?

Re:Same Story in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030433)

on iPad? IETab merely uses current IE rendering engine which is not available on iPad. It is not a renderer in itself. If you didn't know this, turn in your geek card and get off my lawn.

Re:Same Story in Germany (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 2 years ago | (#40032109)

IETab just runs IE; if your application is bloody-minded about only allowing in IE6, then Firefox plus IETab running IE8 will still get bounced.

Re:Same Story in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029975)

um, I would hope you don't work in IT actually. Remote desktop to an xp client. Done and done.

Re:Same Story in Germany (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030065)

You can do that, but the experience is sub-optimal. We've got a few users doing just that with iPads to access a certain program that was written against a (modern) version of IE.

It's slow and the UI is /not/ meant for touchscreens, but it does work.

Re:Same Story in Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40031447)

That's fine.

Re:Same Story in Germany (1)

Shadow99_1 (86250) | more than 2 years ago | (#40032063)

Like the other poster mentioned, we actually have tried remote access for that CEO. In fact right before the conversation I mentioned above. He hated the experience and he certainly didn't feel it meet his needs. We do not have an in house development team (they outsourced it ages ago), so we don't have someone to make a custom app for the Ipads just to get this to work reliably. Using the existing apps we had considerable problems getting it to look like it's just an app (and so not confuse him) and the performance sucked. It also had major issues accepting touch input in a reliable fashion.

If you would like to deal with a normal load of issues with a staff of four and try to play with stupid ipad apps to get this to work be my guest. I on the other hand would rather they just rewrite the stupid web app and be done with it.

Re:Same Story in Germany (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030077)

If I were Balmer I would port IE 6 for the enteprise version of Windows 8 to give it a competitive advantage in corporate America as well as include the usual modern IE 10.

Without the tie in with ancient compatibility why buy a Windows 8 mobile device or phone? IPhones already have this functionality and once these ancient web apps are upgraded they will work on your top man's IPAD. Then what? No more Microsoft needed.

Worse they are porting Office to the IPAD which is another mistake.

Re:Same Story in Germany (1)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030731)

It's the same where I work. It isn't the IT people who are holding up upgrades, it is the workforce. People scream if you make the slightest change to what they use. We still use XP, and had to fight tooth and nail to get them upgraded to IE 7 and Office 2007. I don't know what will happen if we ever try to deploy Windows 8. It's not all of them, but enough to hold up the process.

Re:Same Story in Germany (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031131)

It isn't just technology that managers seem to be incompetent with. My dad works in a hospital as one of the techs who fix and maintain the machines and the managers he has had are just as worthless. He has had ones who never bother to keep up to date on status reports and complain about how far behind they are on PMs but the report the manager was looking at was 2 weeks old. One complained that they needed to cut costs since their department wasn't showing a profit and asked the question "Do we really need to keep ordering this much anesthesia machine hose?" Another one didn't want to have his department spend the $700 to repair a $16,000 machine as the department that the machine belonged to could have replaced it and spent their money instead.

The US government isn't much better. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029457)

The NSA still uses IE7 internally. Seriously, the NSA. These are the guys who are supposed to be on top of the information world.

To be fair, the standard system image also includes Firefox 10 (that's new as of just a few weeks ago, it was 3.6 prior to that), but most of the people I have to work with use IE7 anyway.

Meh -- Sort of (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029517)

We still use IE6 in certain instances where I work (U.S. Gov't). It isn't part of a standard install, it is a published Citrix app and really only used for specific applications that require it. Our standard install is IE8 and Firefox 3.6.28.

The problem isn't the cost of upgrading workstations. It is there are a couple of critical web-interface apps that require it and are an expensive bitch to upgrade. Older versions of Oracle Financials for one.

Re:Meh -- Sort of (1)

hendridm (302246) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029749)

It isn't part of a standard install, it is a published Citrix app and really only used for specific applications that require it.

I know hindsight is 20/20, but I'm assuming modern RFPs require that the system be build so NOT to require a specific version of a specific browser? :)

Re:Meh -- Sort of (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029879)

You have clearly never developed a web app. So Win 98 apps should magically still work on Win 7? Technology changes, apps gradually become outdated.

Code to interfaces, test on implementations (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030511)

It's not that hard to make a web app that is future proof, as long as you write it to comply with the specs from W3C. I have developed a web app, so I know that not everything is specified unambiguously and not all browsers follow the spec to the letter, but it yields much better results than coding to one specific browser version.

In our web app, over a period of about 5 years, the only regression on a browser upgrade I can recall is that IE8 would misrender VML. The very use of VML was a forced deviation from the specs because IE7 and 8 didn't support SVG (and while there is a VML spec, IE doesn't follow it).

Back when these IE6-only applications were developed it was already clear that they would never run in non-Microsoft browsers. To me, that made it a bad idea, but many people didn't care or even realize that there were platforms other than Microsoft's. What people (me included) didn't realize though, is that even later IE versions would be incompatible with IE6.

Re:Meh -- Sort of (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030931)

Technology only changes if you spend money. Spending money is currently out of fashion, especially in the UK government (Not having it is a good justification for not spending it. Perhaps someone should tell the Greeks).

Re:Meh -- Sort of (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031737)

You have clearly never developed a web app. So Win 98 apps should magically still work on Win 7?

Most of them do, if the developer made an effort to do things properly.

Re:Meh -- Sort of (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029913)

Its more profitable to target just one browser.

Since IE is now released on an annual basis it would mean more forced upgrades for customers who want to be secure. It is a great benefit to have the app not work and check the version number on startup or during a connect.

Whats the point if the customer pays for it and never upgrades again? You go out of business.

Re:Meh -- Sort of (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#40032361)

Yes and no. We actively avoid it, but sometimes they sneak in.

For example, I still see occasional things bought that require a specific version of Java to work. "Sun JRE 5.1.2 - 5.2.4 only" type of stuff.

From an end-user perspective, proprietary is evil. There is a potential for you to get left hanging so we really try and avoid it.

Re:Meh -- Sort of (2)

Danathar (267989) | more than 2 years ago | (#40032137)

Not sure why these things are called "Web App" when it's really an "IE APP".

Hopefully (probably not) this will leave a bad enough taste in people's mouths NOT to create applications that only run on one vendor's browser and even worse one vendor's browser at a specific version.

The other side of the coin: (2)

nuckfuts (690967) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029735)

Obviously sticking with IE6 is misguided, but I've seen the opposite side. I've worked in IT for 20+ years, and I've never seen any organization as cavalier about software upgrade costs as my provincial and federal governments. Entire departments would be upgraded to the latest version of Microsoft Office as soon as it came out. It had nothing to do with product features, or whether the previous version was sufficient for their needs. (And I'm not talking about file format changes, which caused a legitimate need for upgrading). The cost to taxpayers for unnecessary software upgrades must be be significant.

Re:The other side of the coin: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40031013)

Well yeah, but modern browsers don't cost anything. And they even work in XP.

Re:The other side of the coin: (1)

parlancex (1322105) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031843)

Governments often do not purchase software licenses from Microsoft through the same retail channels as businesses or home users, instead they usually have negotiated licensing agreement that entitles them to the latest version of certain CALs and common software suites under a specified annual cost. There isn't necessarily a cost for the upgrade, especially for products like Microsoft Office.

Here in Alberta, our provincial government has a licensing agreement for K-12 education that includes Office. However, even if they didn't, there are probably a lot of reasons that end users aren't aware of that are important.

Just a few examples:

  • Product support and security updates
  • Enhanced configuration management through more robust GPOs
  • Enhanced security through updated protocols for Exchange that require encryption
  • Compatibility with our also recently upgraded Exchange server which was upgraded to support more robust SPAM and malware filtering, as well as Unified Communications features

Re:The other side of the coin: (1)

nuckfuts (690967) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031947)

Yes, Microsoft licensing can include "software assurance", which entitles the buyer to upgrades as they become available, but such licences do cost more up front. In addition, this doesn't cover the manpower costs of installing the new versions on every computer, and the productivity loss when nearly every government worker at a computer is suddenly wondering "where the hell has my Print button gone?".

most canuck govt uses windows xp (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40029775)

unlike posts ive seen most govt agencies use windows xp sp3
and ill add some insecir crap like ruby on rails is funny

Blame shit web applications (4, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#40029801)

The culprit here isn't the desktops, it's the general, rock bottom, dire state of "enterprise" software.

Truth be told, shrink wrap software is way better put together than the overpriced, utter shite corporate web apps that many government and big corporate users are forced to endure. They are usually written by inexperienced or bored 9-to-5 developers, and get bit-rotten and unmaintainable fast and thus are sheer hell to work on or upgrade.

As a bored corporate drone myself, I feel the pain. I endure IE6 for using our business apps, and use Chrome for everything else.

IE 6 works fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030041)

According to the CFO and all the accountants who make IT decisions, who are not actually IT people, CNN, MSBNC, Yahoo, Cisco Client Connect, ADP, Bank of America, and every work related site works with IE 6. Their apps work with IE 6.

Why take risk and invest in something they already have that works fine?

If it doesn't increase the share price then why upgrade?

and hospitals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030467)

Electronic Imaging Systems, for MRI's and the like... still require the archaic IE6 ...
it seems idiotic programmers coded specifically for THAT browser and had no foresight...
then again medical hardware is meant to be replaced often so our healthcare costs can keep skyrocketing...

*end rant*

Scary thing about all this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40030645)

I have been a patient in two hospitals here in Regina Saskatchewan (Canada) the last couple of months and I've noticed all the desktops still run Windows XP (even with the screensaver saying proudly windows xp) and IE 6.... scares the hell out of me when hospitals are even running old software like that and what looks like some kind of application they use with username/passwords to access/modify patient records and whatever else etc.

Re:Scary thing about all this (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#40030891)

The reasoning for this is they need to be certified for medical use. It takes *YEARS* to be certified. Once certified hospitals like to keep their investment around for a long time at least 5 years.

I upgrades a hospital last year and they just got certified to run IE 7! IE 8 was still being tested. Hospitals have many legacy devices that all send things like PDFs of xrays, lab reports, and other things accessible by IE and Exchange 2003. They do not integrate well with modern standards. Not to mention are very very expensive so why upgrade?

Biomedical equipment can't crash as lives would be at stake.

Re:Scary thing about all this (1)

Suferick (2438038) | more than 2 years ago | (#40031081)

Even scarier: I visited a hospital recently where the desktops are still Windows 2000

go47 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40032545)

won't be shouting ou8 chan3es were taken over
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