IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

Summary: IE6's slow death says a lot about the enterprise, which is one reason the browser stuck around as long as it did.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Usage of Internet Explorer 6 has dropped below 1 percent. Microsoft and security pros everywhere are happy about IE6's demise.

Microsoft has some shtick about the whole IE6 death meme, but it's worth asking why this decrepit browser lasted as long as it did. In many respects, IE6's slow death---it was like watching paint dry---says a lot about the enterprise, which is one reason the browser stuck around as long as it did.

Here are some thoughts on the meaning behind IE6's end:

  1. Corporations moved at a glacial pace. Yes Virginia, you still can get a laptop with a Windows XP image and an IE6 browser. What's it mean? A few companies still don't value modern Web standards and may never upgrade PCs again until employees walk out.
  2. Enterprises boxed themselves in by programming applications to work with IE6. As Microsoft moved on, companies stayed in place. Tight budgets meant that IE6 stuck around way past its useful life.
  3. People view change and then puke. You'd think a browser swap would be simple. It's odd that Microsoft had to mount a kill IE6 campaign. People---who happen to make up companies---frequently resist change. IE6 was like an old blanket that wore thin after being carried around for a decade.

Check out the tortured tale of IE6:

Topic: Browser

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49 comments
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  • MS sold their customers on non-standard software

    and then after they spent a fortune on it they wonder why those customers are reluctant to spend another fortune to abandon that software.

    It's not about disliking change, it's about disliking spending money to fix something that to them is not broken (or should not have been broken). When they spent all that money on their customized IE6 compatible apps they had no reason to believe MS would ever break compatibility.
    Michael Kelly
    • Well that's not exactly true

      MS offered their customers the web and their customers said "that's not good enough" for what we want to do. So MS said since the web is moving at a glacial pace we'll let you do a few extra things that are critical to getting your jobs done, with the understanding that if you choose to take advantage of them they are non standard. MS never "wondered" why those who did were reluctant to spend to change and move on. It was always very obvious to all and a business decision those companies chose. Everyone understood that eventually the game would change and MS would not support that stuff forever. They are very clear about their end of life policies and give very long lead times. Same is true of their os's, office, etc. It probably would have made their job of pushing people along easier if the web didnt move at such a glacial pace but it does. It's been how many years since HTML4 recommendatiaon and how many more until HTML5 recommendation? That's why things like IE6 extensions and flash and silverlight get built and take a long time to disappear. There's still tons in flash/silverlight that wont be doable in HTML5 a couple years from now.
      Johnny Vegas
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        @Johnny Vegas

        I've never heard history twisted so far from the truth. Um, ActiveX...
        Bozzer
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        NT
        joshandrebekah
    • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

      @Michael Kelly

      "it's about disliking spending money to fix something that to them is not broken"

      [b]But it was and is in fact very, very, very broken![/b]

      -Security holes galore and zero security mitigation.
      -Horrific rendering of web pages.
      -Unable to use new web technologies.
      -Painfully slow, especially if you want to use the latest web apps built around today's faster JavaScript engines.

      The thing was broken to its very core. So very broken it simply wasn't funny anymore. Broken to the point where it's unusable.

      "When they spent all that money on their customized IE6 compatible apps they had no reason to believe MS would ever break compatibility."

      That simply was not true. Not true at all. Everybody and their brother knew that Microsoft wasn't following standards, everybody knew that browsers were constantly changing how they rendered pages due to the IE vs Netscape competition, and everybody knew that Microsoft's broken behavior had to change eventually. If you really, really thought that rendering pages incorrectly was going to last, you were totally ignorant.

      I'm sorry, this was never going to last. Especially when Firefox started becoming popular. That should have sent a warning sign all over the place, especially as it began to eat up IE's market share. I'm sorry, there's no excuse. I'm not buying it.
      CobraA1
    • Nope.

      @Michael Kelly

      IE6 was known to be broken with regard to emerging web standards for quite some time, but what was really broken was the dysfunctional relationship between Microsoft and crappy developers. Microsoft allowed developers of substandard software to essentially call the shots for years. When Microsoft would announce intentions to standardize on more up to date and secure conventions, they weren't taken seriously. They had always been the first to blink before, so why should they start acting more forcefully? When Microsoft followed through, all of the bozos who refused to change their substandard practices howled about breaking compatibility with their substandard apps. IE6's (and to a certain extent XP's) long farewell says that the IT world is full of lazy incompetents who thought that they could force the rest of the world down to their level, and that Microsoft fostered that mentality by being wishy-washy with them until problems had festered for way too long.
      Lester Young
  • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

    Most people are not computer nerds or programmers. To them IE6 is like a hammer. It should be working until it is obviously broken. Telling them to quit using it because of broken things they cannot see or understand (security) just doesn't make sense. There's nothing in their day to day experience that allows them to relate to it.
    raleighthings
  • Your premise is wrong. It stuck around becuase it's still useful.

    What it says about us is that we're pragmatic and not going to spend resources interating on new tech faster than the roi pays off. It's a pretty positive thing despite how much it's costing Microsoft. MS on the other hand is doing exactly the same thing by not putting IE9/IE10 on XP. They probably could have gotten the upgrade done a bit faster if they had but then they'd have the same problem only worse getting the XP upgrades moving. Again pragmatic and timed for roi.
    Johnny Vegas
    • IE6 was crap and you know it

      @Johnny Vegas
      Development on IE stood still for many years until the Mozilla team started to develop a real browser that is actually useful for the user, not the malware writers. Today IE still is far behind and just as insecure as before.
      IE useful? Who are you trying to convince?
      Mikael_z
      • Sorry, you are clearly out of touch with Mr. Joe Average.

        @Mikael_z

        IE useful? Uhh...ya, sorry again, but ye without a clue; yes IE = very useful.

        And for an unusual number of people, even IE6 is useful. What geeks like you fail to understand is that in the long run, screaming bloody blue murder about security problems don't mount to a hill of beans to the countless millions who never have had a significant security breach. Thats not to say that they might soon at any time, but lets face it; when they haven't, its harder to convince them they may. I just got a cousin off of IE6 over the holidays, and as far as he was concerned himself, he couldn't have cared less. Because he never had a single problem of significance with IE6. Like millions of people.

        And this is one of the most prevalent problems with far too many writers and posters around here as they seem to have little grasp on the millions of families who have no real IT knowledge of any significance but still have a computer and laptop in the home thats used daily. So many still do not properly update and there are still many that use a computer online so little that they often do little more then check email once or twice a day or log into Facebook for a quick look. Some of those have little to no awareness of the state of their AV, the version of their browser or if there automatic updates are even turned on. The sheer fact that its so many of these types that have continued to use IE6 for so long is somewhat of a positive testament to the actual risk to IE6 security as opposed to the potential security risks of IE6.

        Its like practically 99.9% of the security problems we read about. Even the most potentially dangerous, for the vast majority, the actual effect ends up being ZERO and for them the risk assessment appears to be vastly overblown.

        The bottom line is, yes IE is very useful, and quite frankly I for one feel every other browser feels like a plastic piece of crap compared to IE. But thats just my opinion. And that apparently, much the same as hundreds of millions around the world.
        Cayble
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        @Cayble

        A simple web page impression is enough to total a XP machine running IE6.

        Oh, and these days "viruses" don't make their presence known. In fact, unless you look hard, you wouldn't even know you were compromised. Your cousin could have had a virus all those years, and they wouldn't have heard a peep from it.

        Your advice about security is reckless at best. Sincerely.
        Bozzer
    • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

      @Johnny Vegas -- While what you say is true that it kept on working, so it was "paying off", I think that those in charge were not aware of the actual costs: security holes, lots of extra website development and testing time, lower quality site development to accommodate IE6.

      Now we can more easily understand the drawbacks to getting so tied-in to one technology.
      seeknosy@...
  • Good riddance

    Now if we can just get rid of IE 7 and IE 8.

    IE 9 is acceptable.
    K B
    • Are the viruses acceptable too?

      @K B
      Mikael_z
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        @Mikael_z Haven't seen one in a while.
        CobraA1
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        @Mikael_z
        What viruses are you talking about? IE9 is the most secure browser in the wild today. Do a little web searching and see for yourself. Sorry to say at some point just repeating that Internet Explorer is a security risk over and over won't cut the mustard against the actual truth.
        tomaras@...
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        @Mikael_z Never had one...
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • Completely ridiculous.

        @Mikael_z

        If you are getting viruses on a Windows machine running XP or higher, and IE8 or 9 then you are clearly someone who is not only absolutely reckless in your websurfing habits, you also clearly are so clueless about computers in general you don't even know how to download and install free AV and antispyware programs that are now so effective they tend to protect even the reckless.

        Its really silly statements like "Are the viruses acceptable too?" that simply go much to far to leave even a scrap of integrity to the person who makes such a statement. Its so ridiculous it boarders on an outright lie because it implies that with IE9 for example that viruses are so easy to pick up that you have to accept that as being "alright" because if you use IE9 its inevitable. And the fact is that the truth is 100% the opposite, that in fact the odds of ever picking up a virus with an updated Windows OS with updated AV is now almost impossible unless the user decides to do some seriously hazardous things. Things so hazardous they would be ridiculous themselves.

        Bottom line is, if you cant secure a Windows box easily and for free, you simply dont know what you are doing. It really is that simple.
        Cayble
      • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

        tomaras@,

        So you believed that Microsoft marketing page about any other browser and any other OS being unsecure and ONLY IE9 and Win7 are secure?
        benched42
    • RE: IE6's long farewell: What does it say about us?

      @K B

      Acceptable? Yes. Desirable? No. There are many who are willing to accept hamburgers when steak is available.
      benched42