IE 6 – DIE!!!

Google has announced that from March 1, 2010 it will start to phase out support for Internet Explorer 6 in Google Docs and Google Sites. IE 6 users who have visited YouTube (owned by Google) over the last 6-8 months will already have seen notices telling them to switch to a more up to date browser but now that policy to stop supporting the browser is spreading to Google’s other services. Microsoft has said that it will continue to support the browser with updates until 2014 (BBC News Microsoft backs long life for IE6), which hardly encourages organisations to upgrade. Hopefully, Google’s announcement will sound the death knell for this antique.

I am still gobsmacked by the number of organisations that still use IE6. About 20% of the in-house workshops I do have to be run on computers using IE6. Many people highlight local government as the major culprit but there are major international corporations who are still using it. The most common excuse I am given is that in order for them to use bespoke internal databases they have to program an interface between the browser and the databases. Changing the browser means rewriting the code. The scariest set-up I have come across was in an international investment bank whose CIO told me that the easiest way for them to connect a browser to a key database was to make use of  a security loophole in IE 6, which means that they can’t install security updates!

You may think that removing IE 6 support from Google Docs and sites won’t affect the general user. Check the results from your Google searches over the next few weeks. I bet there will be formatted files such as PDFs, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations in the mix. If you want to preview the file before downloading the HTML option is still there for some, but an increasing number are being previewed in Google Docs. And when it comes to accessing web sites it is not just Google services and applications that suffer under IE 6. Forget about fancy Web 2 applications: I am finding in my business information workshops that essential features of many web sites are not displayed in IE 6 .

For the web to move on and integrate new technologies IE6 really must die

4 thoughts on “IE 6 – DIE!!!”

  1. IE6 is indeed horrible… but closer to home RBC have 1,500 PCs running Windows 2000. The security patch support for which runs out in July!

  2. Hi Warren,

    I am not surprised. That’s the other excuse I am often given – “We have to use IE 6 because we are still running Windows 2000/2003”. But 2000 on local government systems is seriously scary. If you wrote a novel about hacking around this it would not be believed. You couldn’t make it up as they say. But if it’s good enough for a major international investment bank, it’s good enough for RBC. Totally irresponsible.

  3. Most local government IT departments would love to get rid of IE6 and there is one simple reason why they can’t – they have to run third party applications which are require IE6 as their client web browser.

    The probable reason why the third party suppliers haven’t moved off IE6 is that it costs money to undo the special adaptions which they had to make in the absence of any standards compliance in IE6.

    This is an object lesson in why software suppliers should follow international standards rather than promote their own proprietary ones.

    We can specify that new software procurement will use a modern web browser and ask our existing suppliers to provide upgrades that do not need IE6 but In the meantime we have to put up with IE6’s security vulnerabilities and inefficiency costs.

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