BBC BLOGS - dot.Maggie
« Previous | Main | Next »

Last rites for Microsoft's loathed browser IE6

Maggie Shiels | 08:39 UK time, Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Mark your diaries for 4 March because in Denver the funeral arrangements are well underway for the planned passing that day of Internet Explorer 6, commonly referred to as IE6.

Current IE logoFew however will shed tears as IE6 crosses to the other side. In fact developers across the globe are likely to celebrate an event that has long been hoped for Microsoft's most loathed browser.

The reason IE6 is held in such disregard by the developer community is that they feel it is outmoded and buggy.

Last year a band of around 70-plus developers got together to launch their own campaign and a website called www.IE6nomore.com.

Led by JustinTV.com, the project tried to underscore that the loathing for IE6 wasn't personal, just professional. On the website it said:

"Working with IE 6 is one of the most difficult and frustrating things they (developers) have to deal with on a daily basis, taking up a disproportionate amount of their time. Beyond that, IE 6's support for modern web standards is very lacking, restricting what developers can create and holding the web back".

The desired demise of IE6 came a step closer when just a few weeks ago Google announced that from 1 March, it will end support for the browser.

The world's most powerful internet company said that from next Monday some of its services, such as Google Docs, would not work "properly" with the browser.

YouTube has pencilled in 13 March for when it will drop IE6.

One very real reason why Google is pulling the plug is because hackers used a flaw in the browser to target the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

IE6 quickly found itself becoming public enemy number one as foreign governments turned against it. France and Germany advised their citizens to switch to a different browser until the hole had been closed.

A petition was even delivered to Downing Street asking the UK government to give IE6 the order of the boot because of security issues and the fact that it is a browser that was released in 2001 and not fit for the purposes of 2010.

IE6 now accounts for 20.07% of the browser market compared to IE8's 22.31%.

While Microsoft cannot publicly say they would like to see it pass to the other side, there is little doubt they would really prefer users to upgrade.

Officially they are keeping their own counsel at this time and referred me to two blogs - one detailing the growth of IE8 and another with an engineering point of view on IE6.

Now the latest attack comes from a website company in Denver called Aten Design Group.

In fact so confident are they that IE6 won't last out the week, they have organised a funeral for 4 March, days after Google switches off the life support machine.

Such is the opprobrium that IE6 is held in that Jon Clark, a developer at Aten, told BBC News that they are aiming to bring IE6 haters together for a right good old knees-up.

"I don't want to speak ill of the dead, or soon to be dead, but I can't say I loved IE6. It served its purpose years ago and now Microsoft has two new browsers with IE7 and IE8 it is a shame that people are stuck using old technology."

For those who wish to pay their last respects, Aten has set up awebsite for lovers and haters to post their thoughts and memories.

Mr Clark's favourite so far comes from Garret Winder who posted "I love the way you wore that sexy blue grey background on your transparent PNG."

Mr Clark told me PNG it stands for portable network graphics which is an image file much like a JPEG.

CurtJ seemed to express some begrudging respect or affection for IE6 when he wrote:

"He used to come to work wearing odd socks, half his shirt untucked, and always had a snapped lace on his brogues. I used to think he had a drink problem, but it turns out he was just like that."

Eddie Escher indulged in some honesty with his tribute:

"I feel terrible admitting this, but...I never really liked him. He had so many hangups, and he looked awful - especially in his later years. But...he was always there when you needed him. You have to give him that."

And Erwin conveyed a sense of relief that the whole business will soon be over and done with.

"Now it's time to move forward: Life goes on...even without IE6. Thanks (for dying)."

Mr Clark said he hopes the parents of IE6, Microsoft, will be able to attend so they can "support them in this time of need and mourning".

Comments

  • 1. At 10:02am on 24 Feb 2010, Daniel Walker wrote:

    It's worth remembering that Internet Explorer 6 is not the most loathed browser in the history of the Web. that accolade definitely goes to Netscape 4 (in all it's many, and uniquely-buggy variants).

    It was Microsoft's decision to end development of the Web Brower and disband the Internet Explorer development team, at Microsoft's Redmond HQ, shortly after releasing IE 6, that rankled with developers. Microsoft's message was effectively, that IE 6 was "good enough", and that people didn't need, or deserve a standards-compliant web browser. It was only the rise of alternative, much more compliant web browsers, that appeared to cause Microsoft to reverse this decision; and it took the company more than half a decade, to do this. When the new version did come out, it lagged substantially behind the competition, and even the current release - IE 8 - is substantially inferior to the alternatives.

    The frustrating thing is, that - through out this whole porridge -Microsoft has been an active member of the World Wide Web Consortium: the body that defines the Web standards, that their own Web Browser fails to adhere to, properly.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 10:02am on 24 Feb 2010, Helena Handcart wrote:

    Some tech correspondent when you have to have PNG explained to you. The joke about the transparent PNG is purely down to IE6's utter inability to render the transparency, and hence make web designers have to jump through hoops to make things work properly.

    IE6, I don't miss you. I stopped supporting you over a year ago.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 10:32am on 24 Feb 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    Few however will shed tears as IE6 crosses to the other side. In fact developers across the globe are likely to celebrate an event that has long been hoped for Microsoft's most loathed browser.
    ---------

    Sorry but no. It's "buggyness" is actually more to do with non standards compliance than anything else, something that every browser at the time suffered with. Even then it was a massive improvement on IE5 and IE5.5 which really were horrendous to work with, not to mention the atrocious Netscape browsers.

    If you meant the current most derided browser then yes of course it is, it's also the oldest in common use, a link that isn't exactly coincidental by the way.

    Oh and Microsoft HAVE stated publicly on numerous occasions that users should upgrade away from IE6 and have been doing so ever since IE7 became a stable release and the end of support date has been known for years. Indeed their recent reaction to problems in IE6 have all been pretty much to say "well OK we'll fix it but you really shouldn't be using it any more anyway".

    Having a funeral is pure publicity grabbing at it's worst by the anti-MS brigade. Their complaints about IE6 are basically the equivalent of a TV executive complaining that some viewers cannot tell balls apart in snooker on a black and white TV.

    It is ultimately the users fault that IE6 is still so prominent in the marketplace, Microsoft has done all it can to promote IE7/8 and convince users to update via automatic updates and such. Lest we forget that there were some pretty major flaws in early versions of Opera and Firefox as well, however because of the generally better technical knowledge of their user-base these flaws have been eradicated as these users knew to upgrade ASAP, the percentage of these users on older browsers is tiny in comparison, if they had been the mass-choice browser for the past 10 years the situation would be reversed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 10:33am on 24 Feb 2010, Oli Warner wrote:

    I suspect things wont change nearly fast enough. As it is, IE6 might have just 20% share globally but you have to focus on audiences and demographics when you build a site.

    Recently I was in the situation where I had to deliver an internal site for a corporation full (80-odd percent) of IE6 with no plan, capacity or will to upgrade. It not only makes my life harder but I forces me to spend more time on it and bill out more. It's a waste of money.

    I suspect the soonest companies like this will be upgrading is when they upgrade their hardware and replace Windows 2000/XP with a newer version of Windows (without IE6 on the base install) or find something better (Linux!) that ships with a godly standards adhering browser in the first place.

    The worse thing is, as web developers, we can always see the grass being much greener within a couple of years. As soon as IE6 dies, we'll want IE7 and 8 to die so we can have better CSS v3 support. The wheel keeps turning.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 12:25pm on 24 Feb 2010, RubberNutz wrote:

    Tech correspondent doesn't know what PNG is.

    I'm trying to keep the faith BBC, but you don't make it easy.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 12:33pm on 24 Feb 2010, Jamie R wrote:

    Still IE6 here and likely to be for some time yet!
    Probably like many, I’m in a corporate environment – we don’t have a choice. We have to wait for company-wide upgrade programmes before we’re able to stop using IE6 (yes, and on Win XP too!). I’m sure it’s the corporates that account for large installed user base for IE6 that is still out there.

    Luckily we’re starting such a programme, moving to Win7 and I guess IE8.

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 12:38pm on 24 Feb 2010, Tramp wrote:

    Microsoft always used to defend itself from accusations of anti-competitive behaviour by saying that IE got it's high usage share as a result of fair competition. And besides, they used to say, everyone loves IE. It's clear that neither of those statements was true. And now MS is going to have to give everyone a choice of default browser and Opera, Chrome, Firefox and Safari have all shown that they're far, far better than any version of IE.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 1:08pm on 24 Feb 2010, cyberissues wrote:

    We work for clients who are forced to use IE6 by the NHS (due to wide-scale incompatability with modern browsers for NHS systems). This adds up to approximately 20% to all of our development and therefore cost.

    Standards, where for art thou, Standards?

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 1:22pm on 24 Feb 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    IE6 is dead. Life goes on..
    When you roll out the ballot screen (Select Your Web Browser), you’ll see:
    Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE 8, and Opera the screen itself comes with an IE appearance.
    What's missing from the ballot screen: IE 6.
    Little mentioned about the ballot screen options - yet it remains an option - you can chose to remain with the version of Microsoft Internet Explorer you are currently using.

    I read that the ballot screen will only be displayed to current users of IE7 or IE6. Let’s face it, most will chose IE8 (seeking IE familiarity).

    Before last year's Windows Update IE8, IT specialists were trying to block it. Microsoft responded with an IE8 blocker toolkit (December 2008). Why were IT specialists trying to block IE8?
    Its lack of backward compatibility for Web applications that have been upgraded for IE7 and IE8. This is, let’s face, mandatory for enterprises whose business is to help clients manage their systems. E.g. SAP's portal site (including the The SAP Help Portal - your online source for documentation on all SAP solutions, a complete online library containing information about the SAP) doesn't work right in IE8.
    All I’m saying is that, while we bid farewell to IE6, IE8 may come with its own set of inate flaws.
    All I’m saying is the ballot screen, will not break Siebel's (Siebel CRM Systems, Inc. - software company principally engaged in the design, development, marketing, and support of customer relationship management) or SAP's dependence on older browsers.
    So?
    Well, to me this suggests, even before release of IE8, the need for an IE8 Blocker Toolkit.
    IE6 still has a pulse IT departments, where compatibility issues with old software is holding back the implementation of IE8. In fact, are you ready for this? There's an IE8 Blocker Toolkit, from Microsoft, that companies can use to stop unauthorized installations of IE8 on their networks.
    Watch that ballot box. Be careful what you chose, Maybe you just want to stay with what you’ve got – like me.
    I don't know exactly what's happening with IE 6, 7 and 8, but by golly it drives me buggy!

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 1:23pm on 24 Feb 2010, Stevie D wrote:

    @hackerjack:

    > If you meant the current most derided browser then yes of course it
    > is, it's also the oldest in common use, a link that isn't exactly
    > coincidental by the way.
    Other browsers were designed around the principle that updates would follow, and made it easy to update them. IE6 was designed to be the ultimate browser with no thought given to any possible upgrades. That's an attitude that stinks.

    > Microsoft has done all it can to promote IE7/8 and convince users to
    > update via automatic updates and such.
    Er, no. There was no automatic update facility from IE6. Anyone using Win2k or WinNT is unable to upgrade to IE7/8 at all. Microsoft has definitely not done "all it can" to get people to upgrade.

    > Opera and Firefox ... however because of the generally better
    > technical knowledge of their user-base these flaws have been
    > eradicated as these users knew to upgrade ASAP, the percentage of
    > these users on older browsers is tiny in comparison, if they had been
    > the mass-choice browser for the past 10 years the situation would be
    > reversed.
    I don't believe that's true. Opera and Firefox have had automatic upgrades/prompts built in for years, and because they have always gone through a continual update process of sub versions and even sub-sub versions, people are used to upgrading. These browsers have been far more accommodating to older operating systems than IE, which increases the number of people who can upgrade. Compare and contrast - from my own website stats, over 90% of Firefox users are running a version that was launched less than 10 weeks ago ... IE could never hope for that because it simply doesn't have frequent enough updates.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 1:51pm on 24 Feb 2010, Aidy wrote:

    @2 Helena Handcart

    To be fair to IE6, PNG was a pretty much unused image format when it was released. IE6 renders transparent GIFs ok which was the format of the time if you needed transparency. You can hardly blame the browser for not supporting a future requirement.

    This issue is usually made worse by designers who think that PNG is the only transparent image format and they often use them needlessly. GIFs are no good if you want a gradient transparency / alpha channel so you'll need a PNG for that.

    At the end of the day, though, if you're still using IE6 on a private machine to surf the net you pretty much deserve the experience you receive.

    @10 Stevie D

    Interesting last point. So now a buggy browser that requires constant updates is a *good* thing, and the fact that IE remains stable with lesser updates is bad?

    Your silly double standards and insistence that if MS does something it is bad if not-MS does something it is good typifies 90% of the people who make up these debates which is why you should pretty much just be ignored.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 1:58pm on 24 Feb 2010, Socrates470BC wrote:

    I have to laugh at the mess that some developers got into trying to support so many different browsers. Not only different browsers but several different versions of each of these browsers.

    Note that even the BBC is not immune from this particular piece of nonsense. You can find the current browser support table for BBC websites here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/futuremedia/technical/browser_support.shtml

    IE6 would have died long ago if these very same developers had just ignored the quirky needs of IE6.

    Me? I just develop for the lastest version of each browser, in fact IE and Firefox. I don't believe in letting the tail wag the dog.

    Supporting IE6 is like winning the election 59 to 40 (with one independant) and letting the minority run the country (only in America).

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 3:19pm on 24 Feb 2010, Laurence wrote:

    When it was first released, Internet Explorer 6 was a godsend. It was certainly the best browser at the time (Opera required you to view adverts to use it). Microsoft had then predicted that web pages would not be the future of the internet but that 'thin client' apps would be used by companies to connect to central systems through web services - and it would be the thin client which would render the user's experience. This, of course, turned out to be far from correct and Microsoft had to do some back-pedalling when they realised that the substantial growth of web sites would mean that browsers were not going away (there were only about 7 million web sites in 2000, but by 2005 that had risen to over 70 million). Hence the dissolution of the Internet Explorer team after IE6 was released, and the hurried re-constitution of the team for IE7. It wasn't arrogance, rather it was a view of the future which turned out to be wrong.
    Since the release of IE6, the web has moved on with new standards and techniques that IE6 couldn't hope to cope with (after all a lot of those techniques didn't exist back then). It is a classic browser, deserving of a place in a museum.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 3:36pm on 24 Feb 2010, Simon Ron wrote:

    I make sites for ---- I can't really tell you - but you know who you are. They, and most local councils, have been forced to keep using IE6 - even though most of their customers - that is the rest of us - have other browsers. I think the reason is one of 'better the devil you know'. Everything is set up for that system, and staff know how to use it, the fear is that a change will cost a lot of money. I hope this is not the case. As it is, I have to make sites twice, once for the public and once for the bosses of corporations and councils who actually pay for them. Until this dead hand of IT lack-of-support is lifted, I will still have to support IE6.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 3:39pm on 24 Feb 2010, Dale199 wrote:

    "Anyone using Win2k or WinNT is unable to upgrade to IE7/8 at all"

    Using a 10 year old operating system??? I'm not suprised....

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 3:48pm on 24 Feb 2010, Daniel Walker wrote:

    "You can hardly blame the browser for not supporting a future requirement."

    Aidy, by 2001 (when IE 6 was launched) IE 5 for Mac and Solaris (the final versions, ever released for either of those operating systems), had already offered full support for alpha transparency for over three years.

    Yes, get that: a Web browser from Microsoft supported alpha transparency eleven years ago. It's not rocket surgery, but the story of Internet Explorer for Windows, and its seven-year-itch, with regards to alpha transparency, is really just another example of "left hand not knowing what right hand was doing", at Redmond (or, rather - knowing it, but hating it and actively coniving against it.)

    At the time of IE 6's launch, the IE-for-Windows team, at Redmond, employed more than 1000 people with the word 'developer' in their job title, and had a budget of 100 million dollars a year. In comparison, IE for OS X and Solaris opperated on a mere shoestring.

    The trouble was, that the IE for Widows team hated and despised the people on the IE for Mac, and UNIX teams, and refused to implement anything they had developed, but instead, decided to write their own implementation, completely from scratch: they were still working on it, right up to the day when the IE-for-Windows team was disbanded.

    Hence, Windows users had to wait seven years, for a simple, core, graphical rendering feature, to find its way into any version of Internet Explorer they could use.

    So, Laurence, if you speak to many of the people involved at the time (even inside Microsoft), you'll see that arrogance was by far the principle driving force behind what was going on.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 4:05pm on 24 Feb 2010, brightengineer wrote:

    "Mark your diaries for 4 March because in Denver the funeral arrangements are well underway for the planned passing that day of Internet Explorer 6, commonly referred to as IE6. "

    Oh thank god for that!

    Maybe we can start building half descent online apps in half the time now then!

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 4:10pm on 24 Feb 2010, Chris Mills wrote:

    @15 Win XP is a 9 year old OS this year but most people are still using it!

    IE 6 unfortunately has a few more years left in it yet. Whilst I wish it would die quickly, the problem is legacy support for businesses.

    Corporate IT departments hate change. They have coded a lot of webapps on their intranet to work with IE6 and Win XP. These webapps won't even work with IE7 or IE8 so upgrading to a newer version of IE isn't an option unless time and money is spent re-coding these webapps. But the current apps work and MS is still supporting IE6 so the general attitude is "why bother?". Outside of businesses, most users are on newer browsers, be that IE 7/8, Firefox, Chrome etc.

    Until MS act and withdraw support for IE6 then it will pretty much stagnate at its current usage.

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 4:21pm on 24 Feb 2010, Darren Jones wrote:

    Of course she knows what PNG is. Saying the guy told her what it is is just a writerly way of telling the readers. If she had just said (in brackets) what PNG was, you would all be howling that you were being patronised. The fact is, the 20% of users on IE6 are probably the older, certainly the least tech savvy ones. The very people in fact who will be most baffled and least able to deal with it when the internet stops working for them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 5:33pm on 24 Feb 2010, brandonhome wrote:

    I can't help thinking that MS made a strategic error when IE6 wasn't made fully standards compatible. Perhaps on a par with IBMs failure to ensure that MS DOS could not be franchised to other manufacturers. I agree it was a major improvement at the time (though some of us always ran a Netscape browser as well when needed); but by non-compliance it bore the seeds of the MS failure to be net-dominant.

    I suspect Google will eventually make a similar strategic error, not so far, but then we may not know for another 5 years or so.

    I currently use 3 browsers regularly as needed: Safari and Firefox (when on OS X), Firefox and IE8 (when on Windows) - all on a single MAC using Parallels . So far, these combinations always seem to work.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 5:45pm on 24 Feb 2010, Stevie D wrote:

    @11 Aidy:

    > To be fair to IE6, PNG was a pretty much unused image format when it
    > was released.
    The specification for PNG1.0 was finalised in 1996, and it became a W3C recommendation in the same year. IE6 was launched in 2001. The reason PNG wasn't used much _at the time_ was because of poor browser support ... but it was part of the standards that IE should have supported, and didn't, which has further held back its development and deployment.

    > So now a buggy browser that requires constant updates is a *good*
    > thing, and the fact that IE remains stable with lesser updates is bad?
    Not at all. You may have heard the phrase "it doesn't have to be bad to get better" - Firefox and Opera continually fix minor bugs, the sort that are so minor that most people don't ever knowingly encounter them, and continually add and improve features. Because they have been built on solid foundations, this almost never breaks sites that have been designed for older versions. IE fails on all those counts. Bugs and security holes are not fixed until the next release several years down the line. No incremental improvements are rolled out until the next release several years down the line. And because IE6 was built on such shoddy foundations, when the changes hit with a big bang, everything breaks. That is entirely down to the arrogant, careless and self-centred approach to the web that Microsoft took for too long.

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 5:46pm on 24 Feb 2010, brandonhome wrote:

    I have enormous sympathy with those working in a corporate environment (particularly public sector) where an upgrade to IE8 is a cost issue. Have you (plural) considered trying cost-recovery from Microsoft for failing to make IE7 and IE8 backwards compatible with IE6 externally developed apps? Had they used the full web standard in the first place, the problem should not have arisen.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 8:56pm on 24 Feb 2010, Csaba wrote:

    I hope that this unrightfull and overwhelming, not at all deserved presence of IE in banking life will be lifted too, and I'll have opportunity to use my browsers (Firefox and Opera) to access my personal data at my banking account.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 11:53pm on 24 Feb 2010, Martin wrote:

    Interesting article.

    Curious though that the blogs here often celebrate the birth of new Apple products but also 'celebrate the death' of old Microsoft products.

    What does this say about computer users generally?

    Perhaps that most would rather derive some modicum pleasure from the demise of a Microsoft product which they have been frustratingly wrestling with for years than switch to using Macs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 01:31am on 25 Feb 2010, robinson wrote:

    @Martin "What does this say about computer users generally? Perhaps that most would rather derive some modicum pleasure from the demise of a Microsoft product which they have been frustratingly wrestling with for years than switch to using Macs."

    Unfortunately, I don't think it says much about computer users generally (at least those 40% or so who are still using some form of IE). Maybe their IT departments are already priming them with excuses in hand as to why this is all just a chicken little story. But this will probably remain below their radar and I wouldn't expect they will be interested in the underlying issues that are coming up in these comments. [Witness the recent article on ReadWriteWeb that caused a load of general Facebook users to wonder where their login was and why Facebook had redesigned their site radically (these computer users were on the ReadWriteWeb site and not Facebook.com, having come to it by plunking "Facebook login: in Google and clicking the first entry that came up, with no idea of what a url is).]

    Rather, the ones celebrating in particular are website designers like myself, who have respect for internet standards and don't like to do more than double the work to accommodate MS' ineptness. It is more than a modicum of pleasure, I can tell you.

    I will be glad to point clients to big names like the BBC, Google and the German government to make a case -- that the client needs to spend far less time and money on website development and stop worrying how a standards-compliant website looks in a poor browser that MS has shown a complete lack of concern over. It is no longer a crazy Apple-using website developer saying so. Now I have more excuse to avoid viewing any site on IE6 (I can't remember the last time I did).

    And no, the client, as a general user, is not always right. I don't need to take jobs that require a site to work correctly in IE6. I have a life. And I am satisfied with the way standards-compliant browsers render my sites. If I had a lawn-mowing business I could offer competitive rates for mowing a lawn the accepted, standard way. If the client insists on their contractor using nail clippers then I would have to decline. The client needs to know that the time and money involved is not worth it, and that they are the only ones who are going to notice. The solution is for IE6 users to change browsers along with everyone else.

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 09:35am on 25 Feb 2010, icewombat wrote:

    So IE6 is dead,

    But then I can name major high street shops, super markets and 3 of the top 5 online retailers who's web sites do not work on fully on Opera, Crome and/or Old versions of firefox or IE.

    Several of them you can not purchase from if you are using a Mac or Linux!


    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 09:36am on 25 Feb 2010, Aidy wrote:

    @ 21. Stevie D

    > The specification for PNG1.0 was finalised in 1996, and it became a W3C recommendation
    > in the same year. IE6 was launched in 2001. The reason PNG wasn't used much _at the
    > time_ was because of poor browser support ...

    And IE wasn't the only browser. No browser at the time fully supported everything, and you said yourself it was a recommendation. Again we're getting the tired old "MS bad, not-MS" arguments. Another common theme in these tiresome arguments are how pretty minor and insignificant feature is seized on and artificially elevated in importance just to be used as a stick to beat IE with. Think back to the sites of the day and no-one was using partial transparencies anyway. They've only fairly recently become widespread, and it's 14 years since their inception? All major browsers have supported them for a long time too so you can't blame poor support.

    > Firefox and Opera continually fix minor bugs

    IE gets updated via the Automatic Updates system. Maybe it just has less minor bugs?

    > Because they have been built on solid foundations, this almost never breaks sites
    > that have been designed for older versions.

    Now you're either deliberately making false assertions to pull the wool over people's eyes or you don't understand the nature of browser code. IE updates never break sites either as it is rarely the rendering code that is updated (unless it is updated to bring something in line or fix a rendering bug).

    > IE fails on all those counts.

    If you can give me an example where an IE update broke a compliant site I'd love to hear it.

    > Bugs and security holes are not fixed until the next release several years down the line.

    Patently untrue

    http://www.microsoft.com/uk/security/default.mspx

    I'm now wondering if you're just trolling.

    > No incremental improvements are rolled out until the next release several years down the line.

    See above.

    > And because IE6 was built on such shoddy foundations, when the changes hit with
    > a big bang, everything breaks.

    What was this big bang? What IE6 update broke everything? Or are you talking about going from IE6 to IE7? If you are then again we're back to "damned if you do, damned if you don't." You complain that IE6 is not very standards compliant so when IE7 is more compliant to work with compliant websites you complain that non-compliant sites fail to render properly!

    Back under your bridge now.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 10:52am on 25 Feb 2010, S Thomas wrote:

    IE6 is the only MS browser version available to Windows 2000 and Windows 95/98/ME users. And there are a lot of us. Not just individuals but large organisations. Microsoft must continue to support IE6 for the original lifespan.

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 11:32am on 25 Feb 2010, Graphis wrote:

    As a web designer, I hated IE6: I'll be glad to see it go.

    The issue for many people is that a lot of large organisations, many in the public sector, had private internal network software designed, at a huge cost, that worked with a particular (now outdated) version of Windows. Because of the huge cost involved, many are reluctant to upgrade, as their 'overlying' software will have to be redesigned from the ground up.

    As a web user, I didn't like it as a browser, never have. Don't like IE7 or 8 either. I stick to mostly Safari, and occasionally Firefox when I come across the odd website (like VirginMedia) that doesn't (or can't) build in compatibility for Safari. For my work, I use Safari, Firefox, Opera, and Chrome: all are good.

    As soon as all browsers stick to the W3 standards, life will be easier for everyone. Well, maybe not "life", but internet experience anyway:)

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 12:29pm on 25 Feb 2010, Dale199 wrote:

    "Win XP is a 9 year old OS this year but most people are still using it!"

    The point i was getting at was someone said that you can't upgrade past IE6 on Windows 2000 - my answer was yeah I'm not suprised. If you're using Windows XP then IE7 was pushed out as part of Automatic Updates so Microsoft have done enough to move users to their next browser, if you still use IE6 on Windows XP then look after your computer properly and install the updates waiting in your taskbar...

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 2:09pm on 25 Feb 2010, Perless wrote:

    Nooooooooh! IE6 forever!
    Learn to make proper webpages you less than gifted people!
    If it doesn't work in IE6 its bad design.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 2:17pm on 25 Feb 2010, Laurence wrote:

    Hexham_Dan: Your reasoning that the developers showed arrogance doesn't scan. That's not arrogance, that's just pig-headedness.

    I think it's a testament to Microsoft that some people are apparently still using 10 year old operating systems. If you listen to the anti-MS brigade you'd think that those systems would have crashed unrepariably by now.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 4:51pm on 25 Feb 2010, rizlar wrote:

    Where I work we've still got IE6 and Windows 2000, the crashes and bugs is IE6 got so bad that the IT dept had to install Firefox for all our web browsing needs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 6:19pm on 25 Feb 2010, chimneyrock wrote:

    The BBC technology correspondents always seem to quote statistics from Net Applications, which, indeed, give IE6 a global 20% market share for January 2010 (http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=2). However most other trackers, for general non-technical, Internet audiences, give lower values for IE6, for instance statcounter, which gives 13.3% for January and 11.91% for IE6 globally (http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-ww-monthly-200901-201002). More interesting, perhaps, for most BBC listeners and readers, are statistics for the UK. These generally give IE6 usage at about half of the worldwide figure, statcounter giving 6.38% for IE6 in the UK for the month of February to date (http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-GB-monthly-200901-201002). It is also interesting to see the demographic using IE6 in the UK, which should be clear from daily statistics (e.g. http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-GB-daily-20090701-20100225), where the sawtooth pattern illustrates that IE6 usage doubles during workdays as compared to weekends and falls off dramatically during the midwinter break, bank holidays and school half-terms. IE6 is used predominantly by corporations, schools, hospitals, government, etc., whilst small/medium sized businesses and private individuals use more modern browsers.

    It would be interesting to know how the BBC journalists select browser statistics for their publications. It would also be interesting to see the BBC websites' own statistics, which must surely represent a good, general, cross-section.

    That many large organisations are locked into ActiveX technology, browser box models and proprietary Document Object Models that date from the IE5 era, shows nothing so clearly as lack of technical leadership and managerial incompetence in IT matters. It used to be said that one would never get fired for recommending IBM; in the same way, huge swathes of IT fell in love with Microsoft during the '90s and early '00s and were very happy to recommend proprietary MS technologies that flew in the face of existing published and developing standards, and nary a thought was given to the consequences of technological lock-in. The chickens have now, as they always do, come home to roost.

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 8:45pm on 25 Feb 2010, chimneyrock wrote:

    @S Thomas

    >>>IE6 is the only MS browser version available to Windows 2000 and Windows 95/98/ME users. And there are a lot of us.>>>

    I am surprised that IE6 is available for Windows 95: actually, I don't believe this to be true. The latest version of Internet Explorer that Windows 95 supports is IE 5.5 to my knowledge. It is possible that IE6 might be shoehorned into Win95, with some technical wizardry, in which case, please share!

    It should be noted further that, although "IE6" is supported under Windows 98, 98 SE, ME, NT 4.0 and 2000, it is in fact "IE6 SP1" and not the later "IE6 SP2", which requires XP SP2 or later. There are some major rendering differences between "IE 6 SP1" and "IE 6 SP2", which few web designers or agencies are even aware of, never mind cater for, so I would not be surprised if your general web experience was pretty rotten, if you were depending on IE6 as your sole browser for these old operating systems.

    The point has been been raised that many people still depend on these old versions of Windows, but one might rebut this with the point that these old versions of Windows do support better browsers than old versions of Internet Explorer, which will give you a better web browsing experience. Furthermore, IE6 SP1 and IE5.5 work as well today as they did 10 years ago, in that they will perfectly well display websites created 10 years ago, but one shouldn't expect them to display websites created today, using better technologies not available then, or just coming onstream at the time.

    Just to help those with old versions of Windows:
    Firefox 3.6 (current version) supports Windows 2000 and up;
    Firefox 2.0.0.20 supports NT4.0, 98, 98SE, or ME;
    Firefox 1.5.0.12 supports 95.

    Also various versions of Opera also support older Windows OSes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 08:24am on 26 Feb 2010, Laurence wrote:

    This actually prompted me to have a look at the stats of some of the non-technical UK centric web sites I manage. IE6 came out at 7.8%. However to put this in context, Firefox 3.5.8 (the most 'popular' Firefox version) was only 6.7% (total Firefox versions was only 13%) and Safari (no versions available) was only 7.3%. IE7 and 8 together account for 68.8%.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 10:39am on 26 Feb 2010, PhilT wrote:

    if you download the current XP install CD iso from MS Technet it still installs IE6 !

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 01:17am on 27 Feb 2010, George Hartwell wrote:

    How on Earth can a BBC Tech correspondent get away with not knowing what PNG stands for.......

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 09:21am on 27 Feb 2010, Peter Frampton wrote:

    As someone mentioned SAP as an example of some rules we have to follow here is another example. At the beginning of 2009 we migrated one of our main business applications to Oracle Forms with IE6. In our office we have at least 10 web based applications now and at least 200 users using them. I won't mention another 30x20 thin clients. Since MS designed IE6 for that kind of purpose, I don't understand the developers rant. We could not use IE8 because all PC installations have to follow some rules. Everything must be well tested and also companies like Oracle state which IE and Java versions must be used.

    The point is developers have a lot of freedom designing web sites and include functionality we may like privately in our houses, but in offices rules must be obeyed - we prefer stability over functionality. I may not like IE6, nor do I have it at home because I have a Linux box. But MS in 2001 had it's views. Today some web site functions are merely gimmicks I find sometimes frustrating when at work, one of them is the use of Flash on the Oracle's support web site. Not only it does not really change the way I use the Oracle web site, it is horribly slow on my newest quad core computer. Does a support site have to work like a movie? Not to mention I had to logon as a local administrator and a couple of reboots to install it and get it working. Developers call this "the web experience".

    The next problem is that although we do use Firefox in the office alongside with IE6, we cannot run updates due to policy - no user can install anything on his computer. Any updates are configured automatically and it is a very time consuming process. Just migrating from Java1.3 to Java5 took us approximately 2 months. That's because the tools we use aren't perfect and we had to walk to those 50 PC's and fix the updates if they have not gone through.
    So both MS and developers will tell us to dump IE6 all at once, this is hardly a very professional approach. Both parties are forgetting something. Many large companies' businesses rely heavily on their web based applications.

    Besides, which web browser should be the standard?
    On Linux we may find some 10 web browsers to choose from.
    Try and tell me which one will work and which will be the stable standard.
    We will eventually move to IE8, regardless of whether our 10 applications will be tested or not, because developers and MS have forced us to do so.
    Good luck. Fingers crossed.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 11:05am on 28 Feb 2010, Chris Mills wrote:

    @30 Dale

    Corporate IT departments disable Windows updates. They are the slowest to update anything. At work I use XP SP2. Even though SP3 was released 18 months ago. I doubt I will be upgraded to SP3 before MS EOLs SP2 in July! Hence I cannot update to IE8 or even IE7. I can't even install Firefox either as the system is locked down.

    At home I use a fully updated Macbook running Snow Leopard and Windows 7.

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 1:06pm on 01 Mar 2010, LicencePayer wrote:

    I find it suprising that Google has managed to shift responsibility for it's poor security management to Microsoft. Yes, a hack was exploited but one that was exposed only by a social engineering exploit. It is dificult for an outsider to judge but such exploits are usually the result of lack of an integrated, company wide security management system that relies on simple, efective policies, standards and guidelines which is backed up by a rigorous training program. I for one will not trust Google with any of my data until they can demonstrate this.

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 4:39pm on 01 Mar 2010, JGScotland wrote:

    No IE6 can't render PNG, but at least it knows what it is, unlike the BBC's tech correspondent.

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 5:08pm on 01 Mar 2010, tstaddon wrote:

    I still see IE6 a lot in the public sector. To be fair, it can require another massive effort in regression testing and rollout, to get the browser upgrade approved.

    Although, I can think of some instances where half of the IT department have already upgraded their own machines to run IE7 or even IE8 but even so, there's no incentive to upgrade IE6 outside the IT department...

    To be honest, over the years I've seen more problems arising on customer sites as a consequence of JVM memory leaks and conflicts than I've seen arising from transitioning from IE6 to IE7.

    IE8, though... (shudder).

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 07:51am on 02 Mar 2010, Phil Evans wrote:

    It's worth pointing out that the woeful standards support of IE is not limited to IE6. If I run the ACID3 test (acid3.acidtests.org) using IE8 on Windows 7, on a fully up-to-date machine, it scores 20/100. On the same machine Firefox scores 93/100 (94/100 in Linux!) and Opera 100/100 (Linux and Win7). Chrome: 100/100. My Mac user friends tell me Safari scores 100/100. Also many of these browsers have realised that getting a final CSS3 standard completed is going to happen just before the Last Trump, so have started to roll out support for some well developed facets of CSS3. IE has no CSS3 support that I've found. (Incidentally, all of these except IE work in Linux as well as Windows).

    One of your commenters would no doubt class me in the "anti MS brigade". And I am. Not because of any personal axe to grind but because of MS's continued contempt for internationally agreed standards. If the biggest software company in the world can't get their browser to score more than 20% on a test of standards compliance, when many smaller companies can, then there is something very wrong. When we start considering that MS trumpet as "new" features things like tabbed browsing and popup blocking -- which users of other browsers have taken for granted for donkey's years, we start to realise that it's not only IE6 which needs burying.

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 5:20pm on 02 Mar 2010, MoratBD wrote:

    Phill Evans wrote "If the biggest software company in the world can't get their browser to score more than 20% on a test of standards compliance, when many smaller companies can, then there is something very wrong. When we start considering that MS trumpet as "new" features things like tabbed browsing and popup blocking -- which users of other browsers have taken for granted for donkey's years, we start to realise that it's not only IE6 which needs burying."

    I'll drink to that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 10:11pm on 02 Mar 2010, Mike Hall wrote:

    Poor old IE6. It's about to be officially terminated, put out of its miserable existence once and for all. The trouble is, there are companies, (some big companies), who rely on IE6, because they have built web applications around it. Now that's not easy to undo, and it makes it hard when things like internal applications require IE6 and yet Google and other such things stop working properly. A rock and a hard place shall we say.

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 8:30pm on 06 Mar 2010, Petrol Head wrote:

    If microsoft made an IE7 or IE8 for windows 2000 I would use it. All very well to say don't use it. It means paying for XP or the dreaded Vista or W7. Its just like another Labour stealth tax.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 11:58am on 08 Mar 2010, chimneyrock wrote:

    @Geoff Cooper,

    You don't need to upgrade to IE7 or IE8 to avoid using IE6. Just change your browser to Firefox or Opera, both of which are miles better than IE8 anyway. Firefox 3.6, the very latest version, is supported on Windows 2000. There is no good reason at all to use IE6 unless you have to access old and poorly written Intranet/Extranet software, which relies on IE5/IE5.5 or IE6 being available. I don't count familiarity as a good reason to continue to use IE6, lots of people have favourite items of clothing or shoes, but they always have to throw them away eventually as they become too worn and unfit.

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 11:24pm on 09 Mar 2010, Petrol Head wrote:

    15. At 3:39pm on 24 Feb 2010, Dale199 wrote:
    "Anyone using Win2k or WinNT is unable to upgrade to IE7/8 at all"
    Using a 10 year old operating system??? I'm not suprised....

    So what. Outlook gets my email. Office 2003 works. I don't waste my time playing games. Morons think PC's are toys. Skype works. Why should I have to buy another OS.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 11:35am on 13 Mar 2010, chimneyrock wrote:

    @Geoff Cooper

    If you insist on using IE6 out of some grumbly, anti-fashion protest, don't expect the rest of the world to support you. Increasingly you will find that web-sites that you wish to view will not support your old browser. And why should they? It costs considerable time and effort to support IE6 by providing its users with the facilities that modern browsers can be offered easily. Eventually the economics stack up against supporting it - that and the sheer frustration. If things don't work, don't whinge, just change your browser.

    Oh and IE7 is rubbish too, anyway. IE8 (better still the upcoming IE9) or one of the well-known standards supporting browsers, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.