Communities department plans Internet Explorer 8 move

The CLG department will roll out a pilot of the Internet Explorer 8 web browser in September, despite Number 10's resistance to central government browser upgrades
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

The Department of Communities and Local Government plans to move from Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 web browser to Internet Explorer 8 this year, despite resistance to browser upgrades from the prime minister's office.

Communities and Local Government (CLG) secretary of state Eric Pickles said in a post on Twitter on Thursday that his department was planning to end its use of Internet Explorer (IE) 6.

"Discussing with my department plans to upgrade staff to IE8 and ditch IE6," Pickles wrote. The department will start an initial pilot of IE8 from 15 September, a CLG spokesperson told ZDNet UK on Thursday.

"We are in the early stages of the [upgrade] process and preliminary testing has been conducted," the spokesperson said. "Options are being assessed to ensure a balance between cost, risk and benefit."

Central government has resisted recommending that government departments move away from IE6 use. A petition to the prime minister's office, which closed on 6 June, called for government upgrades on the basis of security flaws in IE6. Number 10 rejected the petition, saying that upgrading department systems is complex and that all software has vulnerabilities.

"Upgrading [department] systems to IE8 can be a very large operation, taking weeks to test and roll out to all users," the Number 10 response to the petition read. "To test all the web applications currently used by HMG departments can take months at significant potential cost to the taxpayer. It is, therefore, more cost effective in many cases to continue to use IE6 and rely on other measures, such as firewalls and malware scanning software, to further protect public sector internet users."

CLG is considering the upgrade because of compatibility, not security grounds, the department spokesperson said on Thursday.

"The upgrade is not security related as there is currently no evidence that IE6 is at risk when appropriately patched," said the spokesperson. "There is a focus on remaining able to integrate with the wider business world and ensure the department is compatible with the necessary technologies."

The spokesperson said that there would be costs associated with upgrades to internal systems. CLG does not have any concerns that IE8 may not interact well with government applications, the spokesperson added.

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