God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

Summary: We all know that Internet Explorer 6 needs to die, but early Web-based applications still rely on it, and now--NO!!!--there's a browser extension that will let you run IE 6 in later versions of Internet Explorer.

TOPICS: Browser, Microsoft

Please, please, just let Internet Explorer 6 die. It was an awful browser even in its day, 2001. The only reason it became popular was that Microsoft got away with illegally beating Netscape into the ground. Unfortunately, many corporate developers created crude, IE 6-specific Web applications that we're stuck with to this very day. And, now thanks to Browsium's UniBrows, we may be stuck with for many more years to come.

UniBrows will let users run IE6 within IE8. Yes, that's right; people will be able to keep running IE 6 for years to come.

Shoot me now.

I gave up on IE6 as a set of security holes pretending to be a Web browser back in 2004. Since then, lots of other people have joined me in fleeing from IE6 to other Web browsers such as Firefox, Safari, Opera, and my new favorite, Chrome.

Heck, even Microsoft wants you to stop using IE6. While I think you'd be better off with an open-source Web browser, I also think that moving to any of the later versions of Internet Explorer would be a smart move.

If you're still on XP, and you want to stay true to Microsoft, go with Internet Explorer 8. If you're running Windows 7, you should be looking forward to IE9.

Despite all these alternatives and IE6's security problems, according to site analytics vendor Net Applications, the decrepit Web browser still has almost 15% of the world market. If you look at how individual browsers rank that makes its the world's third most popular Web browser behind IE8, with 29.04% and Firefox 3.6x with 17.63%. What's really amazing though is that Gartner research shows that an amazing 20% of businesses are still stuck on IE6-specific programs.

In other words, it's not idiot end-users running unpatched copies of XP that's keeping IE 6 alive, its businesses. You'd think their IT departments would know better.

So, I guess it should come as no surprise that Browsium has created a browser add-on, UniBrows that will let business users run IE6 inside of IE8 browser. The company claims that this $5 per user per year add-on will provide "full IE6 functionality and behaviors, including ActiveX controls support, rendering, and JavaScript functionality."

At the same time, Browsium asserts that it "Reduces security risk by enabling you to move to a safer, more secure browser." And, its "Opt-in design reduces attack surfaces based on your specific needs."

Excuse me if I don't buy this. You could sandbox IE6 in a virtual machine, which is what Microsoft actually recommends for users who can't give up IE6, but to do that inside IE8? While keeping ActiveX and JavaScript? I can't see it.

Instead of using a kludge to fix IE6's well-known problems-which reminds me: you did know yet another IE-family zero-day vulnerability has been revealed right?--I have a better long-term suggestion. Kill the blasted IE6 specific applications already, re-write them in standard HTML and JavaScript, and move to a Web browser with real security already! Is it really that hard?

Topics: Browser, Microsoft

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  • God Help Us: Windows lives on

    It would be better for everyone to get rid of Windows.
    • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

      @itguy08 Just shutup
    • I'm guessing you also mean that a majority of people shouldn't have

      computers, either.

      A majority will not spend 700$ for a "tower" to have to also buy a mouse, a keyboard, and a monitor. They also can't use Linux, since it doesn't run what they want to run.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

      @itguy08 Still making love to your TRS-80?
    • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

      It would be better for everyone if you either shut up or post smarter comments !
    • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On


      Oh it's not just him ;-) The author seems to have just been writing since CP/M not actually developing. I remember when CP/M was just a dream in someone's eye while I was busy loading the PDP/11's OS from paper tape and polishing hte magnetic memory cores. IE6 was infinitely better than Netscape - especially for development. It allowed for browser based applications that could be developed in a fraction of the time and money that IT departments usually required. Suddenly all sorts of applications were available that previously were guaranteed to be out of date by the time they were actually developed.

      IE6 brought management and policies and while ActiveX may have had its problems in the big wide world, it was fine in a locked down corporate environment.

      So why is IE6 still around? - simply because its still working and the applciations built with it have passed the test of time.

      If it works - don't try and fix it ;-)
    • Guys, he has a point. Windows is not safe at any speed. The only thing

      going for Windows is that you can run Win32 apps from the last century. Big Whooopi.
    • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

      @itguy08 Agreed. F Windows. Go Linux all the way.
  • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

    Please let IE6 rest in peace. Not sure why anyone would still use it given the benefits later IE versions have had, most notable being tabs. It sounds like this tool is used more as a transitional tool, not to just keep IE6 around. Its going to allow users to upgrade IE while still being able to use those few IE6 web apps until they are upgraded. Its a nice effort to get people to try newer versions of IE.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Odd...

      You used to be a proponent of IE6, claiming essentially it was the best thing since sliced bread.
      • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

        @zkiwi You may not know this, but sliced bread gets moldy after a while. Seems that software does too.

        Mosaic, Netscape, IE, Mozilla, Firefox, Chrome

        There seems to be a progression here. Anyway, IE6 won't recognize XHTML, or HTML5 (If it ever comes out).

        Yes, as with DOS and CP/M, it's time to move on.
  • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

    "It was an awful browser even in its day, 2001. The only reason it became popular was that Microsoft got away with illegally beating Netscape into the ground."
    Revisionist are we? Hope your pizza delivery works out for you, this blog doesnt seem to fit your fiddle.
    • He is right. IE6 was not better than Netscape, it was just good enough and

      bundled. Now, IE9 may be a different story . . .
      • Donnie - go do some research...

        Netscape was long dead and buried by the time IE 6 arrived on the scene in 2001.

        For the record: Netscape 4.0 and later were JUNK. 20 minutes to print a mapquest page is ludicrous. IE 5.5 could do the same job in under 30 seconds. THAT is why they failed. No other reason.
      • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

        @DonnieBoy... Netscape died because AOL bought the company.

        After AOL bought them out AOL's stock went up. Since most of the creative people at Netscape had stock options vested before AOL came along, they understandably decided to make a fortune selling their stock.

        So all the best and brightest left to retire, or to form new startups.
      • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

        Netscape was out of the picture before IE 6 came about. The browser I was using at the time was Mozilla.

        What I recall about the downfall of Netscape a couple of years earlier, though, was that a new version of Netscape would work fine, and then a patch to Windows would happen, and suddenly Netscape didn't work right anymore. It would start crashing or part of it would work very slowly. Some people will claim that Microsoft didn't purposely patch Windows in ways that caused problems for Netscape, but I remember too well similar issues with Novell clients, and also with running pre-95 versions of Windows on DR-DOS or PC-DOS.
  • More of a cost issue

    I would say keeping IE6 apps in use is based more on cost than ability. CEOs are axing everything but their bonuses and parachutes in today's corporate world, so why fix something that still works ... sort of.
  • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

    I was at my insurance agent's office the other day, and they were getting my account information from the home office using an ancient DOS based program within a window. IE6? It's the bee's knees compared to this
    R.L. Parson
    • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

      @R.L. Parson :<br><br>Completely agree with you. Most ZDNET bloggers don't get it at all.<br><br>Microsoft made millions because they pushed "industry standards" with a mighty force. Be it DOS, IE6, Win32, DOC, PPT, XLS.<br><br>Now they are blaming companies that they are stuck with the "past". They don't remember it's their past, and how they strong armed us into submission.<br><br>Today in this double dip great recession (which is more like a Depression) companies don't have the money or care, to upgrade applications that were created on the previous century. In their point of view, they moved them to the Web (aka most were VB6 based or FoxPro systems) because they figured that this would "future-proof" them.<br><br>Now that, as it turns out, wasn't true at all. Clinton "peace-dividend"-era (when money flowed in pours) web applications should be migrated again, just because Microsoft did something wrong and code for "their" standard and NOT the current standard (HTML4 dates back to 1996).<br><br>So companies are doing the right thing. Keeping IE6 for company stuff and using alternatives for new HTML5 stuff. Why migrate to IE7 or IE8 if it won't support HTML5. Why migrate to IE9 if it won't support their Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 installed base. Firefox does both, why choose otherwise.
      • RE: God help us: Internet Explorer 6 Lives On

        @cosuna, have a look here:

        Grayson Peddie