Scott Hanselman

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

February 24, 2009 Comment on this post [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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February 24, 2009 7:34
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.
February 24, 2009 7:43
I think the 999.1 are people who have REALLY REALLY long UserAgents or something. Not sure.
February 24, 2009 7:51
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.
February 24, 2009 8:11
Joined... actually I joined the campaign before you wrote that post :) Joining "IE6: Do NOT want!" campaign 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
February 24, 2009 8:12
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?
February 24, 2009 8:38
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
February 24, 2009 8:38
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 ;-)
February 24, 2009 8:52
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.
February 24, 2009 9:35
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.
February 24, 2009 9:37
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.
February 24, 2009 9:59
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.
February 24, 2009 10:12
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)
February 24, 2009 10:25
+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... ;)
February 24, 2009 10:35
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.
February 24, 2009 10:40
Where is Windows Update??????? IE6 should be eliminated and automatically upgraded. :)
February 24, 2009 10:55
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.
February 24, 2009 11:18
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.
February 24, 2009 12:18
You probably don't agree with me Scott, but in my signature is the "fair" upgrade from IE6 HTML salad... ;)
February 24, 2009 12:43
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.
February 24, 2009 12:49
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
February 24, 2009 12:52
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....
February 24, 2009 13:18
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.
February 24, 2009 13:24
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
February 24, 2009 13:47
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.
February 24, 2009 13:48
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.
February 24, 2009 14:08
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.
February 24, 2009 14:25
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.
February 24, 2009 14:33
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!
February 24, 2009 14:35
Don't forget that one requires XP or Vista to run IE7 - Win2K (for example) won't cut it
February 24, 2009 14:57
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.
February 24, 2009 15:09
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.
February 24, 2009 15:21
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.
February 24, 2009 15:22
This is why we need the browsers to follow the standards consistently.
February 24, 2009 15:33
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).
February 24, 2009 15:36
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.
February 24, 2009 15:41
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.
February 24, 2009 15:43
"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.
February 24, 2009 15:46
@Scott You could reduce the size by have the