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Internet Explorer Businesses Microsoft Technology

Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold, Dead Hands 416

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-blame-the-second-amendment dept.
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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Why You Can't Pry IE6 Out of Their Cold, Dead Hands

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  • chrome frame (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    install chrome frame and problem is solved until such businesses get their head out of their collective asses.
  • This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by symbolset (646467) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:18PM (#31220208) Journal

    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? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:40PM (#31220506) Homepage

      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? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tuidjy (321055) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:02PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Angostura (703910) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:07PM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:17PM (#31220922) Homepage

          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? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @04:07PM (#31221360)

            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.

            They do not want to move to a different server OS, or client OS, or a newer version of the same client OS. That's the whole point.

            You should really try working for a business that needs to actually, you know, turn a profit instead of upgrading to every shiny new system as they come out.

            What an IT manager wants and what is practical is often not the same thing, and a good IT manager will develop the trust needed to steer the company toward the products and upgrades they truly need. Unfortunately, a lot of companies don't bother to hire good IT managers, often outsourcing it to people who could care less, and you get stuck in situations where a company spent $10 million on a web app that only works in IE6 a year before IE7 was released. You can bet your ass that company is going to want to get more than a few years out of their $10 million investment. Ergo, no upgrade.

            • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Chris Lawrence (1733598) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @04:17PM (#31221436) Homepage

              If they really don't want to change often, and use things for a very long time, then choosing proprietary software is probably the worst choice. What do you do when support is dropped and you have a critical bug or security hole? In that case, open source is a much better option, since you can run it forever, and if you absolutely need to fix something you can.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Grand Facade (35180)

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

      • Re:This is news? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by vtcodger (957785) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:45PM (#31221146)

        ***What I want to know is, will the managers or admins who chose solutions that locked them into an obsolete browser will be fired?***

        I would imagine that in many cases, their question would be why YOU are still employed. They have computers. The computers do what is needed. They perceive that the IT industry -- much like American car manufacturers in the 1970s -- is creating expensive and poorly crafted junk that is little, if any, better than what they have. Change for the sake of change.

        And they might be right. Refusal to engage in a Red Queen's Race (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Queen's_race) is not necessarily a sign of cluelessness. You might want to meditate during leisure moments about who here is actually clueless.

      • Re:This is news? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Gonoff (88518) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:55PM (#31221248)

        IT departments did not generally want Windows either. That would mean replacing their nice mainframes etc with uncontrolled PCs. The idea of allowing any end user physical access to even these "toy computers" was actually popular with senior management because it put power into their hands and took it away from people they didn't understand or like.

        Those managers have gone on and some will have moved much further up. I have met some who still see that move to Windows as a liberation. They see any move from certain things as a move back to the Bad Old Days!

        Do not blame the IT from then. It wasn't their idea. Some were for it - some weren't. The managers were seen by MS as the way in as IT departments were not cooperative. It was just a seriously good business strategy by MS to promote themselves to the people at the top, rather than to those who actually recognised them for what they were!

        But they did put a computer on every desk. It is now up to us to get those computers working right...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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.

        Clearly you're not a web developer or haven't been one for around ten years. There was a several year period (between when Netscape turned to utter shit and the rise of Firefox) where IE was the only reasonable choice for a graphica

    • by shirai (42309) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:54PM (#31221236) Homepage

      I think you'll like this song. It's about the problems MSIE developers have because of the lock in:

      IE is being mean to me song [youtube.com]

      Full Disclosure: One of my employees, Scott, wrote this song (and I recorded it). The inspiration came from one of our dev teams that was constantly complaining about the problems the browser gave them.

    • I work tech support for a phone company who shall remain unnamed. The primary "software" we use is all web apps that are run on their local intranet.

      And the worst part being, all these web apps were written for IE6. Some will function in Firefox/Chrome/Opera/etc but the primary ones we use the most every day, don't.

      AND, they will never update it. Why? The hired a third party programmer to write the primary web app we use, and it was basically contract work. He wrote it, gave X amount of troubleshooting

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:18PM (#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.

    • by symes (835608)
      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.
      • by westlake (615356)

        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]

    • 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.

    • 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! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by artg (24127) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:01PM (#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.
      • by ppanon (16583)
        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
    • by Geoff-with-a-G (762688) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:48PM (#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.

    • by catbutt (469582)
      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 solut
  • by oneandoneis2 (777721) * on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:19PM (#31220230) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      > 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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, everyo

        • > 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.

      • 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.
        • by Ash Vince (602485) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:35PM (#31221050) Journal

          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.

          You mean label IE7 or IE8? Very few companies are going to deploy anything other than IE on a windows platform. They just want users to use something that is familiar to them. Oh, but it is not supported by MS to have multiple versions of IE installed on the same PC so that rules this out.

    • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MagicM (85041)

      Multiple versions of IE can be done courtesy of here or here

      AFAIK, the only safe and MS-supported way to run multiple versions of IE is to use MS Virtual PC. They even provide free images [microsoft.com] to run IE6-8 on XP and IE7-8 on Vista.

  • Chained to IE6 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sique (173459) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:21PM (#31220258) Homepage

    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by zonky (1153039) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:07PM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jimicus (737525)

          Like it or not, for big IT, these are must haves:

          Let me just say, I agree that third-party browsers need to support group policies before big businesses will take them seriously but if the business depends upon...

          Ability to specify proxy servers and prevent users from modifying them?

          to guarantee people only get on the web using the Approved Method, they're Doing It Wrong.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by aztracker1 (702135)

            Agreed, if workstations aren't allowed to access the internet directly, but only through a single proxy with authentication, it doesn't matter if a user can change the setting, it won't work if not configured correctly.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/ [frontmotion.com]

          There you go, if for some reason a new version of IE is out of the question then there is a MSI version of Firefox that allows you to deploy across numerous computers and use group policies.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by VGPowerlord (621254)

      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

      Why? Do you have some Java program that would run in 1.4 that won't run in 1.6? I certainly have never run into any.

  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:25PM (#31220300) Homepage

    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]

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jisatsusha (755173)
      You clearly haven't seen the sort of people who run these companies.
      • 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.

        • by ppanon (16583)
          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.
    • No, it's because they've always been both cold and dead.
  • Is the author suggesting that we try to solve the problem by killing anyone who still uses IE6?

  • by Cassini2 (956052) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:28PM (#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 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:29PM (#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.

    • 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.

      • Business needs (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikefocke (64233)

        The way many companies roll out new upgrades is to replace the hardware and software and apps all at once. Say you are a 1k people company with offices scattered in 20 locations. What does a roll out of a totally tested and cookie cutter tested solution to all upgrades cost every 5 years versus the same upgrades performed every 6 months. In disruption, training, lost productivity, support costs, testing time, shipping, etc. And the pace of hardware improvements have slowed enough and the work has become net

    • by v1 (525388)

      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 softw

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sir_Lewk (967686)

      Ia Fortune 500 company which will remain nameless (but you use their products every day anywhere in the world - it's a big one)

      "Which car company do you work for?" "A major one"

      Let me guess... next you want me to hit you as hard as I can?

  • 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      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.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:34PM (#31220430) Journal
    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.
  • ... 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])\.
    Rew

    • by heffrey (229704)

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

  • 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 i

    • by heffrey (229704)

      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.

    • 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

  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027)

      They'll figure it out as sites start rendering incorrectly

      No, they'll use a competitor's site that does support IE 6. My employer tried adding a pop-up to warn customers using IE 6 about the deficiencies of IE 6, but that resulted in a bunch of angry e-mails landing in my box, and it was gone the next day.

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

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @02:43PM (#31220546) Homepage

    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?

  • 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 ve

  • IE6 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by suzieque (1740694)
    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..
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mini me (132455)

      One of the things Microsoft did a great job on was the configurability of IE6. You can morph it to do almost anything you want.

      Given that you have that power in your hands, configure IE6 to be a container application to run your one app, but prevent its use as a general browser. Give the users another browser to access the general internet.

      Or at very least install Chrome Frame which will give your users a modern WebKit-based browser for websites that request it, while retaining the familiar IE interface.

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:12PM (#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)).

  • by gig (78408) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @03:29PM (#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.

  • Windows 98 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Sunday February 21, 2010 @05:13PM (#31221934) Journal

    Don't underestimate the impact of Windows 95/98. It still runs on old hardware, is compatible-enough it can still run most applications businesses need, etc. IE6 is the newest browser available.

    If anyone has any suggestion for a full-featured browser that still runs on Windows 98, I could probably reduce the count of IE6 users by a few thousand. Don't bother mentioning Firefox. Mozilla.org gave-up Windows 9x compatibility with v3, so you're still left with an unsupported browser. That "EX"-something-or-other (to run XP apps on 9x) sounds clever, but is an overwhelming no-go in a business.

    And suggesting hardware upgrades for everyone, when their needs are absolutely trivial, and already met, will similarly get met with extreme resistance in the "more frugal" (read: cheap as hell) organizations, such as mine.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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