Scott Hanselman

IE6 Warning - Stop Living In The Past - Get off of IE6

February 24, '09 Comments [83] Posted in ASP.NET | Musings
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Here's a chart showing ONLY Internet Explorer visits to my blog over the last few weeks:

17.96% of visitors to my site are on IE6

I'm bummed to see that nearly 20% (17.96%, in fact) of my visitors are using IE6. (Interesting that 8% are already using IE8!)

There's a great website that's attempting to deal with this and get folks off of IE6, called http://www.stoplivinginthepast.com. It all started like this and spread over Norway like wildfire. Hopefully it'll spread over the rest of the world and we can all add one less browser we need to test against.

There's lots of ways you can add a warning to your website or blog. The EASIEST way would be to add some HTML like this: (modified from examples posted here)

<!--[if lte IE 6]>
<style type="text/css">
#ie6msg{border:3px solid #c33; margin:8px 0; background:#fcc; color:#000;}
#ie6msg h4{margin:8px; padding:0;}
#ie6msg p{margin:8px; padding:0;}
#ie6msg p a.getie7{font-weight:bold; color:#006;}
#ie6msg p a.ie6expl{font-weight:bold; color:#006;}
</style>
<div id="ie6msg">
<h4>Did you know that your browser is out of date?</h4>
<p>To get the best possible experience using my website I recommend that you upgrade your browser to a newer version. The current version is <a class="getie7" href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/ie/getitnow.mspx">Internet Explorer 7</a> or <a class="getie7" href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/Internet-explorer/beta/default.aspx">Internet Explorer 8 (Beta)</a>. The upgrade is free. If you’re using a PC at work you should contact your IT-administrator. Either way, I'd personally like to encourage you to stop using IE6 and try a more secure and Web Standards-friendly browser.</p>
<p>You could also try some other popular browsers like <a class="ie6expl" href="http://mozilla.com">FireFox</a> or <a class="ie6expl" href="http://www.opera.com">Opera</a>.</p>
</div>
<![endif]-->

There are many plug-ins for different blog engines posted there as well. However, adding text like this is easy because it uses some built in crazy detection code that is unique to Internet Explorer (and oft-maligned) using HTML comments. Note the first line of the code has this weird thing: <!--[if lte IE 6]> called a conditional comment. This is easy to do, just add the text above to your blog's template. There's no server-side requirement at all.

Just a picture of what you'd see if you were running IE6

If you're using DasBlog for your blog engine, as I am, just add the text above to the top of your hometemplate.blogtemplate file and you're all set.

The downside is that it's roughly 1000 bytes, but it's temporary. Another technique would be to sniff the user's browser on the server side and only emit this text when they are running IE6 or below.

Now, it's your turn!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:34:18 AM UTC
Good point that users should be upgrading from IE6. However, in many corporate environments, testing and certifying an new browser version with the many web-based corporate applications is a time-consuming and costly exercise, so many large corporations are still using IE6 in their desktop environment.

What's with the browser version of IE 999.1?
I just checked Google Analytics for my website, and noticed a few hits from IE version 999.1 too.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:43:20 AM UTC
I think the 999.1 are people who have REALLY REALLY long UserAgents or something. Not sure.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:51:38 AM UTC
We're a SaaS provider in Japan, and we see exactly the opposite. Of the 42,000 visits from 4500 users we had over the last month for one of our services used by employees, 94% used IE, and of those, 87.02% are IE6 while 12.80% are IE7. The remaining 0.18% is IE8.

From what I've heard, the additional security and underlying OS changes needed to use IE7 cause too many existing systems to break, users complain bitterly, productivity is lowered and revenue is lost.

Same goes for Office 2007. Maybe a handful of our 100+ clients use it. Most use Office 2003 with a smattering of Open Office here and there. The main reason? Users couldn't get used to the ribbon menu, and didn't want to spend hours learning a new interface when really there was nothing wrong with the old one.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
TokyoBrit
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:11:46 AM UTC
Joined... actually I joined the campaign before you wrote that post :)
<a href=""ttp://codeclimber.net.nz/archive/2009/02/23/ie6-do-not-want-campaign.aspx">
Joining "IE6: Do NOT want!" campaign</a>
I think that "Stop living in the past" is a better name than "IE6: Do NOT want!" as the name of the original Norwegian campaign
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:12:43 AM UTC
Joined... actually I joined the campaign before you wrote that post :)
http://codeclimber.net.nz/archive/2009/02/23/ie6-do-not-want-campaign.aspx
I think that "Stop living in the past" is a better name than "IE6: Do NOT want!" as the name of the original Norwegian campaign

PS: Scott... can you please remove the prev comment?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:38:19 AM UTC
I really like this campaign. There are very real costs associated with developing websites that work with equal functionality in IE6, it's about time that more sites started saying no to those costs.

@TokyoBrit, It IS broke! That's the problem. IE6 is the rotten apple of the current crop of popular browsers. It's horribly buggy and inconsistent in its rendering and conformance to web standards. Trying to make your site work well in the most popular browsers excluding IE6 is vastly easier than making your site also work well on IE6. Here's a handy table which does a good job of demonstrating just how much is missing from IE6 that's needed for modern web-development:

http://www.quirksmode.org/css/contents.html
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:38:36 AM UTC
Scott, I don't create web pages daily but my experience is that as far as rendering is concerned, most of the bugs in IE6 are still there in IE7, which means we're kind of still living in the past with IE6. Don't you think?

(No, I'm not bashing MS here. Actually, I'm writing this IE7 ;-)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:52:46 AM UTC
I hear that argument a lot: "upgrading from IE6 will be costly". Well, not upgrading can cost you too.

- When developing new applications for internal corporate use the developers will often have to make special arrangements and extra testing for IE6, which will drive the cost up. I've heard people mention 10% increase in costs.

- When third-party web based applications are upgraded they might not support an ancient browser, forcing you to stick with the old version and not take advantages of the upgraded software

I also disagree with the statement in general: The cost of upgrading to IE7 can be much smaller than people think. For a sys-admin it's relatively little work, depending on their setup it's as little as marking a checkbox.

The only significant problem is for corporate users when they are using internal web based applications that don't support IE7. There are a few options for this:

- Install a 2nd browser and use that for general surfing. Make shortcuts for the IE6 apps that specifically start IE6 and load that app. Unfortunately, it's not possible to run IE6 and IE7/8 side-by-side (Scott: perhaps you could influence some people to make this work?)

- Run ancient apps through a terminal server. Using Citrix you can open an IE6 window that runs on the terminal server but acts like a proper application on your screen.

- Nag the suppliers to upgrade their application. Often there is not much work that's required.

- IE8 in compatibility mode might work in many cases.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 9:35:25 AM UTC
Well, the broke part is specific to the ribbon, and is the comment I hear the most from end users. So I'll retract that comment since it's not specific to the article.

Personally, I like my Vista/IE7/Off2007 box. :-)

As well as my XP/IE6/Off2003 box, and OSX/Safari/OffMac box, and Ubuntu/Firefox/OpenOffice box.

However, all our SaaS applications have to work with as many browsers as we can support, especially IE6 since the huge majority of our corporate customers still use it.

Saying it's broken and saying you need to upgrade, doesn't actually get it done. Martin was on the ball with his comment. I was just following up with some real world data.

Such as 99.25% of our clients use Windows, and of those, 99.5% are XP.
TokyoBrit
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 9:37:50 AM UTC
Web app vendors that will only support IE6 is major issue. Maybe it's time to 'name & shame' a little.

Here's a vendor I've come across, http://www.dtcc.com, that will only allow IE6 users to use one of their web based products. I've asked them how do they expect small firms, with no access to software assurance and the like, to be able to continue providing IE6 to desktops. They have no response.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009 9:59:10 AM UTC
Added it to my blog.

I modified the text of the message to be more future proof. It recommends upgrading to a new version without mentioning any specific version.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:12:50 AM UTC
I personally find these kinds of positive group dynamics extremely fascinating and intriguing.
Furthermore it is hard not to notice that once again it is Norway who pulls the lead in the openness of the web.

Although I wasn't a fan of the legal actions Opera pulled on MS and prefer these kinds of positive actions, it is hard not to notice that once again it is Norway that pulls the lead in the march towards a better internet.

(disclaimer: I'm not Norsk, and live in Belgium)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:25:27 AM UTC
+1 for the large corporate thing. Most of the 85,000 people here are on locked-down machines running the standard build, which still mandates IE6. I gather the portfolio of in-house apps that are broken on anything else is slowly being addressed and we should get upgraded to IE7 sometime not too long after IE8 ships... I think it's just the tiniest bit harsh for a Microsoft employee (albeit a relatively recent one) to be criticising corporations for believing that they could standardise on IE6 and its non-standard glories, though - MS did pretty much say it was supposed to be the last browser we'd ever need, didn't they? It's an unusual large corporate IT department that doesn't stop thinking at the drop of a hat.

This coming from Firefox, seeing as I'm one of the fortunate unlocked few...

;)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:35:45 AM UTC
I would agree that web service providers certainly can't stay in the past and *only* support older browsers, but it's also not good business sense to *only* support newer browsers, unless your market can support it.

Ours certainly can't, and our market is the second largest economy in the world (at the moment), and 50% of our customers are foreign-capitalised corporations with global IT standards, yet they still use IE6 in Japan.
TokyoBrit
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:40:56 AM UTC
Where is Windows Update??????? IE6 should be eliminated and automatically upgraded. :)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 10:55:03 AM UTC
Cool initiative! Placed it in the news section on my asp.net blog. I'm afraid though that it will not really help. I think it's mostly companies that refuse to update. The only way to solve this is by just stop developing for IE6. Employees will complaint if they can't do their work because they really can't view any decent website.

Another thing that could be done is to add an expiration date to internet browser applications.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:18:12 AM UTC
It's only corporates that go out of their way (and know how) to block installation of IE7. And they're not gonna change until it's not supported. Maybe next year http://is.gd/kEm3 ??? If anybody can fathom that page, let us know.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:18:02 PM UTC
You probably don't agree with me Scott, but in my signature is the "fair" upgrade from IE6 HTML salad... ;)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:43:28 PM UTC
This type of initiatives show to we doesn't get it.

* Do you think that someone who does not care or know about upgrading the browser will care about your banner?
* Do you know that people prefer not to touch (with reasons) a working environment that is working?
* Do you know that people with dial-up will spend too much time and money "upgrading" the browser that it is working perfectly?
* Do you know that people that dos not validate the "Windows Genuine" can't upgrade?

We must stop whining about IE6 and just do our work to please our customers, whatever the browser they chose.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:49:14 PM UTC
Nice idea.

However, here are a few comments, IMHO.

(1). Recommending a Beta product (such as IE8) to a common enduser is ALWAYS a very bad idea. Betas are awful. In fact, release versions are awful. Let's be honest here. Betas are for techies and developers NOT typical endusers. RE Betas-- Too much trouble. Too many bugs. Makes them scared when the real version finally comes out. Often require uninstall to move forward to next version. Often corrupt or break the machine because they do not uninstall properly. Etc. Etc. It is a very bad idea, and quite cruel, to suggest that gaunlet for a typical enduser.

(2). MS has to get off the stick and make SharePoint compatible (esp. ActiveX) fully workable in FireFox. Actually, MS has to ALSO make IE7 work with SharePoint. Untold issues. No mult-file-upload. "No compatible product" warning when using Office 2007 (full) and IE7. Fully patched. Etc. Etc. Why does this apply to the article? Well, I cannot recommend alternatives to IE6. Ug. IE7 has it own damned registry with the dang "AddOn management" is unbelievably stupid in design-- for crying out cornflakes, what were you thinking.

(3). MS never fixed IE6. That is why it is bad. With IE7, it is the same story. Many crashed. The ridiculous re-prompting to "setup your browser" page in IE7. Etc. Etc. Recommending a move ahead MUST offer some benefit or the enduser is going to say (and can righfully say now) "moving to IE7 makes little sense when I hear from a lot of people that IE7 crashes constantly, is slow, and is no better than IE6".

(4). Living in the past is IE itself. That is-- the dang thing does NOT work. IE6. IE7. Etc. FireFox, by comparison, is light-years ahead in stability, speed, caching, addons, plugins, standards compliance, etc, etc.

(5). IE6 crashes less than IE7. That FACT and that alone is enough to keep people on IE6. We cannot blame them-- we must blame the browser manufacturer.

So, yes, I agree-- let's move forward.

Let's build a browser that works, Microsoft.

This is a rant but entirely and factually true-- so, prove me wrong-- make SharePoint (full functionality)work with FF, make IE7 stop crashing, make SharePoint (full functionality) work with IE7, make IE7 as fast as FF, and then, and only then, will it make sense to consider talking about IE8.

(Sorry MS, but you deserve it and you know it.)

-- Mark Kamoski
Mark Kamoski
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 12:52:04 PM UTC
I was just looking at my Analytics on the same issue. I run a teenie little website for a private school, and I get more page views from IE6 than the whole Firefox family. Sad state of affairs to be sure.

I can believe the corporate upgrade policy, I work during the day for a large financial institution (read: bank) and we have call centers and the like that most people are running Win 2K/IE 6 and there is no plan to upgrade them to anything more. We even have a group that is running Windows ME & IE 5.5. So we're back to all these different "if browser version" tests, just like the old days with IE & Navigator....


Mike Shaffer
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:18:01 PM UTC
I've been onsite at numerous client locations in the last couple of years where not only was IE6 the standard in the corporate desktop image, but Windows Update was disabled via group policy. That kind of setup even stops things like Powershell from being installed because it is distributed by the same mechanisms as Windows Update.

Vista in particular really made a lot of IT shops gunshy about upgrades. I've got one client where the IT director was asked when their plan was for moving off of XP on to either Vista or Windows 7 and the response was "Who says we're ever moving off of XP?". It's non-sensical, but is the kind of thing I'm seeing and hearing frighteningly often.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:24:43 PM UTC
I wish the browser world could be so easy... :)

I'm not saying any names here, but one of the biggest financial institutes in Italy, 5 months ago, spent a LOT of time and money to upgrade the browser in all branches... from IE5... to IE6... sigh
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:47:10 PM UTC
I don't think anybody runs IE6 because they want to. If IE6 usesr had the choice to upgrade, they would. I'm sure the people who are still using IE6 don't have the option to upgrade.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 1:48:26 PM UTC
In many corporate environments the admins just don't like to take the responsibility to force upgrade everybody. I worked in a very big company where even the business people eventually started using Firefox for everything but the admin people still wouldn't make a statement on whether or not it IE7 was supported.

So kick these admins and get them to work instead of playing DOOM like ours were!

L.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:08:13 PM UTC
I would normally agree with this but I've seen many instances where in order to go from version A to version B you have to upgrade a bunch of other things along the way (SP1 for this, SP2 for that, widget Z as well.) This kind of situations make it almost impossible for the average user to upgrade - even if they want to.

Furthermore, for the average user the choice of browser is almost irrelevant, their e-mail client (e.g. hotmail, gmail, yahoo) looks pretty much the same even in IE6, the same is true for their news portal. Average users typically don't know/care about the security vulnerabilities or compatibility issues...for them is a just a browser. They have their anti-virus running (perhaps) so on the minds that "should be safe".

Having said that, I am really surprise that you are seeing such a high percent of IE 6 on a site like yours which is (I thought) mostly visited by geeks, not average computer users.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:25:44 PM UTC
Why did Microsoft feel the need to change the interface so significantly in IE7? I don't like it and as an Administrator, I am sure my users will not like it. Microsoft has a bad habit of changing the interface on OS, IE, Applications (Word, Excel, etc...) every few years. I don't mind them adding in an alternative user interface, but changing the DEFAULT user interface is a retraining issue for most businesses and it is a STRONG reason why businesses don't adopt newer software (I know M$ feels the need to try and provide something new so they can justify charging more money, but to me, it is not justified). Microsoft should focus on keeping the interface similar where possible and adding an "option" to switch to the new interface if users CHOSE to do so.
EVVJSK
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:33:03 PM UTC
I totally agree with EVVJSK.

If Microsoft wants people to feel better about upgrading, they should STOP SCRAMBLING THE DAMNED INTERFACE WITH EVERY NEW VERSION!!! I still run IE6 on one of my computers because my wife wants it there (along with an older version of Office) because she knows how to use it. Every time these guys come out with a new product version, they totally scramble the interface and folks who aren't as tech savvy as us freak out. That could also be why many corporate and governmental entities are reluctant to switch - user training costs real money!
Jamie
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:35:44 PM UTC
Don't forget that one requires XP or Vista to run IE7 - Win2K (for example) won't cut it
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 2:57:50 PM UTC
I've complained for awhile now that in order to support all these "custom corporate internal applications" that run in IE6 only, Microsoft just needs to create a stand-alone IE6 (They can even brand is IE For Corporate Applications), then force out the upgrade...

And despite what people say that "IE6 can't be ran by itself", I'm sure the smart guys at Microsoft could figure it out.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:09:47 PM UTC
Until recently (the past 3 months) many many of the machines at the company I work for, were still windows 2000. Matter of fact, I still have a 2000 dev machine tucked away for maintains some old vb6 code that we have not converted yet.

Course I am writing this on a Vista machine, while taking a break from writing some XAML.
David in Charlotte
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:21:30 PM UTC
This is why we need standards so badly in the web world. And the lack of consistency between browsers just stinks for us as developers and us as employees of companies that are living 5 years in the past.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:22:18 PM UTC
This is why we need the browsers to follow the standards consistently.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:33:40 PM UTC
Eduardo Molteni probably brought up the primary reason that people aren't using IE7 over IE6. IE7 requires Genuine validation, so all of the clueless pirates are still using IE6(the smart ones are using FF, chrome, etc).
Ytram
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:36:17 PM UTC
I tried to explain it to my mom and grandma by saying IE 6 was the Yugo of web browsers.

I think I finally got my mom to upgrade to IE 7 (she still won't touch Firefox or Chrome). Grandma is still a lost cause.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:41:29 PM UTC
We as a national organization are still tied to IE6.
Myself as a professional geek tend to jump on the latest and greatest. I went to IE 7 as soon as it went final and regreted almost every minute I used it. In fact I went to Chrome as my principle browser.
When IE8 went final I gave it a try and I have to say, so far I like it. Seems faster and page rendering seems to be more accurate. I am having some strange behaviors when using it in conjunction with Visual Studio 2008. When debugging a web page I will often get two or three instances of IE8 opening and at least one of those instances can't be closed or killed. Very odd.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:43:17 PM UTC
"Stop living in the past?" Honestly, this is a prime example of Microsoft hubris. If IE6 works well enough for a user, why the hell should they change, and who are you to demand it? Any why -- because it makes your life a little easier? If a user is happy to upgrade then good for them. If they don't... why do you care? Yes, I am lumping you in with Microsoft as a whole on this. We're getting ready to completely re-engineer our core software systems where I work. We're currently a .NET shop but since this re-engineer needs to last up to 20 years, and given that Microsoft has a history of deciding to drop support for platforms that they very previously heralded as "the best technology that everyone should have" (I'm mainly referring to COM and DNA here), we have to engineer our systems in a generic enough way that if MSFT decides to change their minds in the future we're not totally hosed (we might even jump ship to an all open-source stack just so we don't have to worry about this possibility in the future).

And really: saying that people need to switch to IE7 or IE8 because you think it's better is equally as valid as me saying that you need to cease writing in C# and using Windows and switch to writing Java on Linux because I think it's better (and who are you to argue with me on this point, Scotty)? If users are happy with what they have, then accommodate them. Otherwise they will go elsewhere for what they want and no amount of calling them behind-the-curve-losers will bring them back.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:46:53 PM UTC
@Scott
You could reduce the size by have the <!--[if lte IE 6]> wrap either a script block to async call the text to display _or_ wrap an iframe element that is only shown for ie6 and less; thus reducing the 1k additional for each other browser. Just a thought. There are variations of course.

Additionally, I agree IE6 needs to go. The question that I have pop in my head however is, with the new Windows Mobile 6.5 and beyond, Microsoft is talking about the big plus of making it have the same capabilities and function as the IE6 renderer. Does that mean that we will now have a new slew of devices that will be id'd and indeed running as IE6 machines? In other words, how can we ever get rid of IE6 when new products are shipping with the same old broken code?
benb
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 3:54:59 PM UTC
@Sea Cat -

No, we're saying IE 8 is better because it is better. IE 6 is horrifically broken in so many ways. I cannot tell you how many hours I've wasted as a web developer coding around IE 6's special interpretations of web standards.

I hope you enjoy your Linux and Java. Really, have fun. Doesn't change the fact that IE 6 just doesn't work right.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 4:17:17 PM UTC
Although I agree that people should move on to newer browsers, the truth is that for corporate users that may not be a choice at all. Intel, for instance, does not allow you to install IE7. You must use IE6. These are 80 thousand users right there.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 4:29:22 PM UTC
I've tried IE7 several times and my entire machine degrades in a matter of 1-2 months to the point of not being usable. Unless something has changed in IR7 the memory footprint will just grow and grow and grow until I have no resources left.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 4:58:37 PM UTC

Don't know how your corporation is doing(Actually I do) but mine isn't about to rewrite intranet pages any time soon to ensure they work with newer standards based browsers.

The new IE 8 rendering options will help, but I bet we won't even add those meta tags to our existing sites.
Dave Tigweld
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:00:22 PM UTC
@Cam Soper:

1. I'm not a linux/java guy. I was simply making the point that one's holding an opinion is perfectly invalid as a means of making a persuasive argument.

2. That IE6 is technically inferior as a browser isn't a point I, or anyone else here, contests. MSFT made the mess that is IE6, but, as with a lot of technology, it was adopted far and wide and is still the standard in many corporations. Moreover, in fixing their mess, MSFT went and changed the UI so as to make it confusing to non-technology wizards like us. Whom, precisely, does that help? As was mentioned by another poster, re-training users on UI changes costs real money. There was not a compelling reason to radically change the UI in IE7 in order to support tabbing, and this decision caused many IT managers to not deploy IE6. (What I think would be ideal would be to divorce the IE rendering engine from the UI of the browser and offer the possibility of using any of several outter UIs over a rendering engine that can be upgraded and replaced without affecting the UI).

Let's not forget browser history either. Microsoft fought long and hard to get into a position of 90%+ market penetration. When they got there -- about the same time as IE6 was in final development -- they also decided to ignore W3C standards because "90%+ market share speaks louder than a group of academics in a closet somewhere." And then MSFT began losing market share in this space, and they lost it to products who actually follow the standard. As a result, we devs have to write standards compliant and IE-specific code, which sucks for us. But whose fault is this? It's certainly not the user's fault, and to arrogantly demand users to upgrade from IE6 because we don't want to write compatibility code is lazy foolishness. If any of my developers took that attitude I would politely remind them that they are free to seek employment elsewhere and that I've got a stack of resumes from people who are willing to take their job should they abandon it. Taking the "screw the user" attitude is simply wrong. MSFT made this mess for us and until they fix it we have to deal with it.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:08:46 PM UTC
I work as a contractor for a large government organization and they use IE 6 and will continue to do so. I installed IE 7 when it first came out, and quickly uninstalled it. Parts of the UI were inflexible and could not be changed by the end user. IE 7 was and is a step backwards in several important respects.

During today's (2/24/2009) Strategic Update Meeting with Wall Street folks, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer admitted IE is in the "red" -- losing market share. Duhhhh! I wonder why?

We'll stop living in the past just as soon as the present offers markedly superior products. Sadly IE 7 and Windows Vista don't fit the bill. And the market proves this.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:15:45 PM UTC
Why are coporation taking so long to certify IE7? Did it take them that long for IE6? Being costly is not a good enough answer.

Popular sites should remove the IE6 hacks and make these sites intensionally broken for IE6, That will force everyone to upgrade! However they have no zero interest in upsetting IE6 users. I did hear some sites started doing this. Good thinking.

I blame MS for this mess. First for producing a buggy non fully standards compliant browser. And worse, for taking soooo long to produce IE7 when they later knew that IE6 is buggy and all the web designers were complaining about it. They only started moving their fat ass when FF started chipping from their browser market share.

Looking forward to when IE6 & IE7 are eradicated from earth like polio. Hopefully by end of 2010.
Abdu
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:22:53 PM UTC
Fact is, IE6 was considerably more stable than IE7. The number of lockups we experience with IE7 (and IE8 RC) is staggering. Typical user, with almost no plug-ins, will have 3-5 hung IE sessions per day. Horrible piece of software.

I fire up Firefox when this happens, and get some work done. Not that Firefox isn't without its own quirks...

RB
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:29:00 PM UTC
What's sad is that your tech audience is much more up to date than the general public.

Our application serves the health care industry and we show our numbers regarding visitors using IE6 to be closer to 67%.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 5:59:26 PM UTC
IMHO I think you underestimate the collective pain and anguish so many people have had with the constant software updates forced, suggested, and advertised for users to deal with. Constant security updates, regular fixes to AV and spyware programs, OS updates, and of course many things that break, slow down, or otherwise negatively impact the use of their PC. They read articles about the "features" of Windows 7, and very little affects them - they don't care about making the UI "snazzier", because they will be slowed down immeasurably by learning new ways to do old tasks, with no other benefit.

There are quite a few people still complaining that everything changed in Word, and they ARE NOT more productive doing the tasks they do, no matter what Microsoft believes.

Think about how they suffered in the last couple of years through Office UI changes, UAC, updated browsers breaking regularly-visited websites, backup changing, unbelievably slow file copies, etc.....do you really think people see value in these upgrades if there isn't a real business apllicaiton-driven reason to upgrade something?

I know quite a few people who are just saying NO to aany software updates. It's a lot of churn with very little benefit. They know their business bottom line will not improve just because they upgrade to IE 7 or 8 - in fact they are willing to bet there will be lost productivity as a result of the upgrade effort. The rank and file office worker sees no advantage on being on IE 7 or IE 8 if they are happy with IE 7.

BTW I am a career IT guy, pro-Microsoft...I think it's time we see an awful lot of the churn our work creates. "But the next release will be better" - yep - fix the broken stuff, and break new stuff. Users have figured us out.
Joe Perl
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:12:03 PM UTC
Nothing like uttering the phrase "IE6" to bring in hordes of opinionated web developers to engage in a comment war!!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:22:29 PM UTC
Some people forget or don't know that Vituralization is a great and inexpensive way to move up to IE7 and still test on IE6. Simply install a Virtualization product, such as VMWARE (free), VIRTUALBOX (free), or VIRTUAL PC (MS license required) and install a copy of Windows in a new virtual machine.

I know that this won't work for every company, but it is an option that some people forget or don't know about. Personally, I've never understood why Windows doesn't already allow you to run multiple versions of IE. MS probably feels that it "complicates the user experience," but I think that this could easily be solved during installation of a new IE with a button or checkbox in one of the options windows.

I am running IE8 beta in the Win7 beta (build 7000). I do not like IE8 so far. I like some of the ideas MS is trying to implement, but I feel like this new IE is not as compliant as MS says it is. Simple CSS formatting and HTML elements do not display properly in the browser. It's also pretty bad that there is a need for a compatibility view button. Funny thing is... the cv button turns IE8 into IE7!

If IE would support plug-in and add-ons better like Firefox, then they could easily provide an OPTIONAL tool to users to turn IE7 into IE6 for a specific website, just as IE8 does for IE7. IE7 could be upgraded through Windows update to add this feature. IE8 could add this in before releasing, but instead could allow developers to select any previous version of IE to work with for a specific website.

I am all about pushing people towards the newer, better browsers. I still won't recommend IE8, but I will IE7. Mostly I recommend Firefox.
KM
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:39:30 PM UTC
Well - what's it going to take for Microsoft to put this code snippet on on MSN.com and Microsoft.com ?

If Microsoft had the guts to publicly kill off IE6, then the last few dead-enders would maybe finally get the message.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:42:02 PM UTC
I work for a large company, and IE6 is the standard... And I do ASP.NET all day long... and only support IE6... :'(
hehe
Marc K
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 6:53:20 PM UTC
Scott-

There is an error in your statement, I'm surprised no no one has caught it yet.

You said: "I'm bummed to see that nearly 20% (17.96%, in fact) of my visitors are using IE6."

This is incorrect because the chart displays IE traffic ONLY, not all traffic to your blog. So, this means that 17.96% of IE traffic is from version 6, not 17.96% of all traffic. If you were to include traffic from other browsers like FireFox, Safari and Opera, you will probably see your IE6 number drop to the 10% range....at most.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:24:49 PM UTC
Scott,

The comments here made me think back to the podcast episode where you discussed user reaction to Apples upgrades versus Microsofts. I do not understand why so many Microsoft users are so committed to old versions and compatibility and refuse to accept the fact that technology is moving forward. Maybe you could discuss in a blog post or future podcast what Microsoft thinks about this stigma and what they can do to address it.

As for the people saying that ugrading from IE6 to IE7 is a "re-training" issue, if that is true I would take a look at your hiring/retaining practices. If your employees can't grasp the differences between IE6 and IE7 in a short amount of time, I'd hate to see them react to changes in your market.

Thanks,

Bradley
Bradley Landis
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 7:54:40 PM UTC
@Bradley:

Many Microsoft users are corporate users; corporate IT shops outside of Redmond don't just automatically upgrade software because Microsoft has a new version (and I'll bet there are plenty of cases inside of Microsoft where the absolute latest technologies are not in use). New versions means new bugs, possibly breaking changes. I worked for a mortgage company who had an internal app that was essentially a gigantic, complicated VBA app inside of Excel. This spreadsheet/VBA app was central to their day-to-day business and they couldn't upgrade to Office 2007 because the VBA code didn't work in 2007.

As for Mac users: (1) they are individuals, not corporations, and (2) Apple pretty much got OS X right when they wrote it though they did have to piss off tons of people, forcing them to buy new hardware and software when OS X shipped. If OS X ever gets significant corporate uptake then you'll see significant resistance to new versions of software among Mac users.

By the way: what ever happened to the promise that Windows Critical Update would "only fix what is broken, never to push new features?" And you people in Redmond wonder why there is massive discontent with Windows?
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:15:31 PM UTC
Thanks for featuring my site Scott. We need as many people as possible on board and you are driving a lot of traffic to StopLivingInThePast.com which is great.

I'm amazed at how much heated debate this initiative as created - from people accusing us of being Microsoft hand puppets to MS haters to defensive devs to people who can't wait to see IE6 drift away into the distance forever. Quite astonishing really.

In the end my main goal is to get as many people as possible to upgrade. I don't want it to be mandatory and I completely understand that there are systems and circumstances that prevent upgrades. But for the vast majority, there is no good reason not to upgrade and those are the people we are targeting.

Anyways, thanks for the link and I hope we can get some headway with this!

morten
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 8:38:45 PM UTC
@Morten Rand-Hendriksen

What practical difference does it make if people upgrade or not? It doesn't matter a bit to users, most of whom have better things to do than worry about which version of IE they are on. It only matters to web developers, and it seems like lazy/complainer devs who don't like to write code are the ones who are complaining the loudest... and these devs decide to blame the users rather than MSFT for creating the problem in the first place. Whatever your motivations, StopLivingInThePast.com comes across as hating on users of IE6.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:35:47 AM UTC
Hope they don't upgrade to IE8 - it doesnt work with several asp.net 2.0 controls :(
ben
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 3:32:22 AM UTC
Think their reasons for upgrading need an update. This is more current:

"Any browser doesn’t work the way it should *1"
"Any browser is a security risk *1"
"Any broswer is old and outdated *1"

"*1 Some more than others"

BTW. The 'super' html tag you say is allowed, doesn't create superscript in IE7.
TokyoBrit
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 4:01:06 AM UTC
The best thing we can do for users is to encourage them right off Internet Explorer and onto more secure, less bulky, more stable, less invasive browsers.

Sadly IE6 is here to stay, for at least the next few years. Your visitors represent the demographic of up-to-date, technologically literate people. We are the ones who do see the benefit to ourselves in upgrading away from IE6 - that is why your stats show only a 17.xx% use of IE6 amongst IE users. To the non-technical, it's not just a matter of not seeing the benefit: there simply IS NO BENEFIT to upgrading from IE6. So we're just going to have to wait for all the XP machines to go away when they reach their end of life, or lose most of our customers who happily use IE6.

In the meantime we'll just have to continue to support IE6's crazy old rendering engine.

The technical community encounraged Microsoft to adopt a standards-based approach to HTML/Javascript interpretation loooong before IE6 was developed. This is your chickens coming home to roost.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 5:01:03 AM UTC
IE 6 is the DOS of the Web.
Joe Chung
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:09:08 PM UTC
The reason why we see IE6 in our web-analytics reports is because IE6 is the default with XP, 2k3 and few other win oses.

The day when people will have the power in terms of internet bandwidth, they will start using firefox or crome. They are much better than any of IE browsers.

Unfortunately, there are popular web apps rendered specifically for IE6/IE7. They are coming in the way. Otherwise people would have thrown IEx.

Anyways, if MS has to be in the race, they have to improve IE a lot. IE8 is in no way competitive with firefox or crome.

The great browser is back. Stay tuned.

Thanks!
Dhananjay
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 1:36:49 PM UTC
I think admins that have WinXp installations should just run MultipleIE for legacy apps.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 2:31:04 PM UTC
After some thought, I realize that these same arguments can be made of MUCH Microsoft software. One of the problems with Microsoft is that they go and make a really good product (WinXP, Office 2003, etc.) - or even if it's not all that good, it's good enough that 99% of users don't notice it's flaws - then then decide they need to make a new one instead of just releasing patches for the existing one. Ok, fine, you need new revenue streams after all.

The trouble is, in order to mask the fact that the great new product is nothing more than a collection of bug fixes and a few new features that 99% of users won't notice, they rearrange the entire interface so it "looks new". And maybe to justify it to themselves, they completely rewrite parts that were working fine as well. Anyone else notice how Windows Vista copy and zip operations are like a thousand times slower than XP?

Now you have users out there clamoring to buy up those last few laptops that still run Windows XP. Has anyone else noticed that "Windows XP Installed!" is listed as a DESIRABLE FEATURE! Could you imagine people proudly proclaiming "Windows 3.11 Installed!"?

MS needs to take a better pulse of the market and realize when most of their users are reasonably happy with a product and then just release updates to that product instead of totally reworking it. I'm not saying they can't charge for those updates, just don't try to fool people into thinking there's more to it by rearranging everything and adding a bubbly new window look - and most definitley don't rewrite stuff that's working perfectly well and then release it with bugs and performance problems that weren't there before!
Bob
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 2:34:41 PM UTC
I can appreciate that devs should probably be using newer browsers, but to suggest that my people like my mother who can barely work a computer needs to upgrade just because she is "living in the past" is the height of arrogance. Do you think she cares that your site isn't optimized for her browser? Heck, MS shoved the damn thing down her throat a few years ago anyway so why should she be in such a rush to upgrade now that you claim there is something better.

Techies need to learn that the vast majority of users aren't really concerned with being on the latest and greatest. They don't measure their epeens by what version of browser they use. Maybe if MS didn't write such crappy browsers that are chock full of incompatibilties then there wouldn't be such a need to upgrade.

Whatever
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 3:13:08 PM UTC
Isn't the real problem here that the browser has become so much a part of the actual application?
Granted that is great in many scenarios, and obviously the sucess of the web is overwhelming proof.
But in reality when I develop an application for the web, what ever I develop is going to be married to whatever browser my user is running.
That could mean pairing my code developed in 2009, with some browser developed in 2005 (or before).

I guess IE8 is trying to be itself and all these back versions at the same time (using different configs). I didn't really understand why until reading these comments...
As a dev is sucks to have to support so many browsers with their own behaviors, but I understand that some users can't/don't want to change...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 4:03:14 PM UTC
Hmm, telling people to 'stop living in the past' reminds me of the Office dinosaur campaign several years ago.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 6:19:29 PM UTC
I would love to update, but I have no choice since my company enterprise solution since includes IE6 and even Office 2003...
Kevin
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 7:01:04 PM UTC
Has anybody tried IE8? InPrivate browsing and related tab color coding look cool.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 10:11:44 PM UTC
Thanks Scott. I added something along these lines to my site - maybe we can shame the laggards into the present. :)

You can see it in action here if you have an older IE: http://www.michaelckennedy.net/

Regards, Michael.
Thursday, February 26, 2009 12:17:02 AM UTC
As much I like to be able to tell that to our IE 6 users, but of the 90% of our users who come to our site with IE, nearly 40% of them come in with IE 6. I like to think that people will upgrade, but some users who visit our site are corporate users and what is on their machine is determine by their IT group, so really the message should be directed towards IT groups of corporations.

Upgrade people to at least IE 7, and that should help with cutting down the number of IE 6 users that we are seeing out there.
IrishManInUSA
Thursday, February 26, 2009 1:56:30 AM UTC
Wow, another nerd fight over IE where half of the commenters demonstrate complete ignorance of the real world and the people who have better things to do with their day than learn the ins and outs of a new upgraded version. I'm shocked. No wonder the industry is so belittled by the outside world.


Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:01:06 PM UTC
@IrishManInUSA:

You said: "I like to think that people will upgrade, but some users who visit our site are corporate users and what is on their machine is determine by their IT group, so really the message should be directed towards IT groups of corporations."

You're wrong.

The people who need to be convinced of the need to upgrade are the bean-counters and chief operating officers who will the ones to approve the time and budget to (1) upgrade systems, (2) test all applications for compatibility and proper functionality on the new version of the software, (3) train users on the new UI, (4) more help desk time to dealing with the instability of IE6 versus IE7. It would be easier to simply convince all of the executives in question to upgrade to Windows 7 and abandon WinXP. The problem with that -- especially in this down economy -- is that businesses simply won't authorize the expenditure of funds to "fix" something that isn't broken from the user's perspective. IE6 is only broken from the perspective of the web programmer. Stop complaining about IE6's quirks. Vive le difference! -- it's part of what keeps us gainfully employed.
Thursday, February 26, 2009 5:01:55 PM UTC
@Sea Cat

You said:"What practical difference does it make if people upgrade or not? It doesn't matter a bit to users, most of whom have better things to do than worry about which version of IE they are on. It only matters to web developers, and it seems like lazy/complainer devs who don't like to write code are the ones who are complaining the loudest... and these devs decide to blame the users rather than MSFT for creating the problem in the first place. Whatever your motivations, StopLivingInThePast.com comes across as hating on users of IE6."

The practical difference is that if developers have to spend more time trying to make the applications they make work on older browsers then they have less time to provide the functional needs of ALL of their users. At some point a practical line has to be drawn and moved forward...nine years is long enough.

I think it's going to be upto the product developers to finally cut the cord and stop trying to accomodate older browsers so they can focus on real innovation.
Ryan
Thursday, February 26, 2009 6:46:50 PM UTC
...checks to see if Hell has officially frozen over... Yep, looks like it.

Finally someone from MS with some stroke is coming out publicly and asking people to stop using the bane of my very existence, IE6. Thank you, thank you, thank you... there is a god.
Friday, February 27, 2009 10:26:07 AM UTC
I've found it's a bit of a pain to support IE6, but sometimes it makes me javascript/css cleaner in the end. Sometimes! Other times, we know how horrible it is adding hacks to fix IE6.

It was a pretty nice browser in 2001!! I really wish people would move on. When I'm testing, I've gotten script errors on (ahem) live.com and microsoft.com in IE6. I wish I didn't have to support it, but about 12% of my users still use this browser. I'm counting the months before i can ignore it... I'm giving IE6 about 18 months to live.

There's nothing painful about upgrading, is there? IE7 is better in a lot of respects. I think most users just don't even really think about what software they are using.
Julian
Friday, February 27, 2009 4:35:21 PM UTC
@Ryan:

You said: "I think it's going to be upto the product developers to finally cut the cord and stop trying to accomodate older browsers so they can focus on real innovation."

In this economy, product developers can't afford to be cutting off any of their customers, especially for a trifling reason like "it costs our developers more time to make IE6 compatible webpages." This sounds too much like managers/companies who refuse to spend money on I/T to make money overall. I'm sure the competitors to such companies will jump at the opportunity to scoop up all the customers who are alienated by managers/companies who couldn't be bothered to support a browser still in wide use. But hey, it's a free country -- do what makes you happy.
Saturday, February 28, 2009 10:40:22 AM UTC
Unfortunately, IE7 breaks the DoD's electronic medical record. So our physicians and providers end up having to use VMs on a Citrix server to use IE7.
Bob
Bob
Saturday, March 07, 2009 3:16:31 AM UTC
Many of the Internet Users are computer illiterate while others simply because of corporate computers maintenance problem.

0.5% visitors of my site are using IE5.5 what a surprise! I wish windows will perform hidden automatically update on old IE just like what FireFox and Google Chrome does.
Saturday, March 07, 2009 11:17:00 PM UTC
BTW, IE7 doesn't install on older Windows OS versions
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 2:50:28 PM UTC
Maybe some common standard for rejecting IE6 browsers should be introduced? If someone with IE6 enters the page, he will see the same same information (for example the link http://www.stoplivinginthepast.com), but one standarized. Like for example when you enter the page with silverlight components, or flash, you see the same information about missing stuff in your browser.

So you enter first page, and you see strange icon/picture/info which is informing you that this page is not supporting IE6. "Don't care." you think, but if you see the same icon/picture/info on the several (ofter favorite) sites, you will start to consider, that you should do something about it.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009 7:57:14 PM UTC
This is wonderful. It inspired me to create this project on google code: ie6-upgrade-warning

I want to translate it to as many languages as possible so that any web developper could add it to the webpages created. The initial language is very polite and suggests the use of a newer browser.
Thursday, April 09, 2009 7:26:12 PM UTC
The interface in IE7 is quite different isn't it? Most people don't like change. Just look at how users have to be dragged, kicking and screaming to Firefox simply because, among other things, the widgets feel a little more "ridged" the IE6's. And, although I don't use it, I do find the interface in IE7 highly annoying.


I just want to use PNG transparencies in my designs without that ridiculous, semi-working hack.
d00d
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.