Australian retailer charges customers IE 7 "Tax"

It's more of a marketing stunt than anything else, but Austalian electronics retailer Kogan really is charging IE 7 users an extra 6.8% "tax."

Australian online retailer Kogan is levying an IE 7 tax.

Australian online retailer Kogan is levying an IE 7 "tax."

If you're shopping for electronics online at Australian retailer Kogan, an Oz equivalent of the U.S.' Best Buy with the horribly out of date Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 7 browser brace yourself for a nasty surprise. Kogan will charge you an extra 6.8% sales “tax” on your purchase.

In a blog post, the company explains, “The way we've been able to keep our prices so low is by using technology to make our business efficient and streamlined. One of the things stopping that is our web team having to spend a lot of time making our new website look normal on IE7. This is an extremely old browser, so from today, anyone buying from the site who uses IE7 will be lumped with a 6.8% surcharge - that's 0.1% for each month IE7 has been on the market.

While I'm sure this is primarily a sales stunt, there is some truth to Kogan's problem. It has been expensive to write Web pages that will render properly in both IE 7 and the even more out of date, but not dead yet, IE 6. Today, according to NetMarketShare Web browser numbers, 6.17% of the Web population are still using IE 6 and 3.43% are using IE 7. That's a lot of zombie Web browsers still in play.

Mind you, companies like Amazon and Google stopped supporting IE 6 in 2010 and Microsoft started strongly encouraging people to dump IE 6 in 2011, but like a bad horror movie monster IE 6 "lives" on. Despite everyone's efforts, even by Microsoft's own official count in May IE 6 still staggers on with 6.3% of the market.

Kogan could have, and should have, levied a surcharge on IE 6 users as well. Besides being more numerous, supporting IE 6 is actually far more troublesome for Web designers.

What Microsoft wants you to do is to switch to IE 8, if you're running Windows XP. There is a newer version, IE 9, but Microsoft won't release it for XP. If you're running Vista or Windows 7, you can move to IE 9. Windows 8 will offer IE 10.

Kogan doesn't care if you stay loyal to Microsoft's browsers. In fact, their IE 7 alert message carries the icons for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Apple. Me? I think the best use of any version of IE is to download a better browser, say Google Chrome.

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