IE6, it’s old, it’s ugly and it’s really insecure. Plus it’s a pain in the bum to develop for. Seriously, it’s like the morning after a really really really hot curry, a generally not fun experience for everyone involved. Anyway, now I’ve got that lovely image into your head and you understand the joy that is IE6 we can work on a plan to kill it.
Because really, everyone wants it dead, well almost everyone. Microsoft don’t want it, they keep trying to kill it but give up mere seconds before pulling the trigger. Web Professionals have been trying to bury it in the back garden for years, and that’s real years not non literal ‘literally years’ years, they don’t mind if it’s still twitching they’ve already had the funeral and want to get on with the wake. But it’s still with us, grimly holding on and forcing us to keep using really really stupid workarounds to do perfectly simple things, because the men in suites point at the browser stats and say ‘Look, there IE6, people still use it, develop for it’.
But who are these people? Who has managed to not notice anything to do with new web browsers for the last few years? Who has gleefully ignored the blandishments from Microsoft for use IE7 or 8, and sung loudly to drown out the sweet nothings being whispered by Firefox, Safari, Chrome or even Opera? Who? Who!!!!?
It’s the IT department. You see Microsoft got themselves, and all of us, into this situation when the web was young and the bubble had yet to burst. See they saw this whole internet thing and at first ignored it and when that didn’t work they came up with a new plan. ActiveX, which well all now admit was a really f’in stupid plan. But they sold it to lots of companies as a sure fire way of doing new internal systems. And there are a lot of these internal systems, a huge stonking pile of them. Think about it, there are still jobs for COBOL programmers (not disrespect) because the banks still have huge mainframes they spent lots of money on running lots of COBOL. And if that’s the case what’s the likelihood of a company spending lots of money upgrading their internal ActiveX/ASP system? You know, the one that was written by a consulting firm that long since gone bust, has no source code and uses a undocumented data format? The one that works fine with IE6 but not with any other web browser ever?
See when I put it like that it becomes obvious, we’re stuck with IE6 until Microsoft say they won’t support it any more, but they won’t do that because then all the governments of the world will stop paying for Windows licences as if they have to upgrade they might as well upgrade to a free OS… vicious circle there.
This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that the same companies that think spending money on a new computer is a frivolous expense when the money could be better spent on tickets to Royal Ascot or something… where was I? Oh yes, the same companies that aren’t upgrading to IE6 also don’t like their staff using the internet for non work related activities, despite the fact the the world is migrating to the internet faster than a dubious joke about migration to a stand up comedians routine… These companies therefore don’t see any need in installing a second web browser on their staff’s machines, what’s the point, they’d only surf the net with it. Which means when the staff do have the use the internet at work, and there really are loads of reason they might not just Tweeting, Facebooking or reading my blog, apparently, they have to use IE6. Which means, the usage number for IE6 are artificially inflated.
But Simon, you wearily sigh, we know all this, have you really written 650 words just to rambling tell us this? Yes! Not wait, there’s more. There have been a number of ideas put forward for fixing this issue, including redirecting old web browsers to pages telling them the site doesn’t work. But the thing is to get companies and governments to actually upgrade we need to hit them where it hurts, the bottom line. So here’s my plan. Step closer it’s a doozy.
Firstly we find the companies using IE6, that’s easy, we watch our access logs and pick up on IE6 page requests and log the IP address. Then we close our firewalls to these IP addresses, and add them to an insecure browser blacklist that we share amongst ourselves. When people call to ask why they’ve been blacklisted explain that you have detected requests from insecure non supported software coming from their address. Explain that you can’t take the risk of exposing your network to them.
Of course this will only really get noticed in the boardrooms if we get the ‘adult’ sites to join in and that’s unlikely. So the next part of the plan involves finding every company that won’t upgrade from IE6 and boycotting them, then they’ll notice. I figure we start with the governments, though how one boycotts a government I’m not sure. More though on that is required. I would say write to your MP but I know what mine would say, “This isn’t a real problem, only namby pamby wishy washy liberals like yourself would worry about it”. “But Iain,” I would reply, not stooping to his level of name calling, “it wastes time and money across the WORLD as we have to work round this useless piece of crap. I know the shiny word box confuses you old man!” Ok maybe a bit of name calling “But it’s the future, get with the programme”.
And this is why I try not to speak to my MP. But anyway, my point is, the time for subtly is over, we need to start hitting them where it hurts, in the pocket book. If the companies start to lose money then people will start to take it seriously. Otherwise we’re just left, ranting into the dark, and thinking we’re making a difference.
Side note, if you use IE6 through choice… stop. If you use it because you have to then share, out those soulless minions of pain who have forced you to do it and maybe we can get something done.
But probably not.
Originally published at Scimons Random Thought Table. You can comment here or there.