Why is the University of Amsterdam still using IE6?
IE6 is my grandmother on her deathbed and she just won’t die. Her skin is obviously wrinkled and dated, she doesn’t have any recollection of the past, and she is sucking the life (and money) out of everyone around her. God, can you please pull the plug!?
IE6 is a seven-year old technology. It was released in 2001 and predates Windows XP, Gmail, Facebook, Safari, Firefox, 9/11 and the iPod. In the days before Web 2.0, the two most popular browsers were IE6 and Netscape. Choosing between those two browsers is like choosing between a Ford Pinto and a Hairy Firetruck, but back in 2001 we were just happy to go for a ride. So….SEVEN YEARS later why is IE6 still one of the top two browsers? Why is (roughly) 25% of the world still using IE6?
Why IE6 Sucks
- IE6 doesn’t support CSS standards
IE6 complies with (roughly) only 55% of CSS 2.1 Basic properties, compared with Firefox’s 98% compliance.
- IE6 Is Destroying The Economy
Web developers spend hours (sometimes days!) optimizing HTML and CSS for IE6. This is an enormous time suck for the developers, a drain on the client’s budget, and wasted resources for the company. As a developer myself, I can attest to the hours of painful labor spent solely on fixing IE6 bugs, and there have even been initiatives to Save The Developers. A poll on CIO (from of over 500 voters) shows that 40% of developers still optimize for IE6.
- IE6 Is Unsafe
a) “Using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser to surf the Internet has become a marked risk — even with the latest security patches installed”, says USA Today.
b) “THE US GOVERNMENT has sent out a warning out to internet users through its Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), pleading users to stop using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.” according to The Inquirer.
c) New York Times, Slate and others have similar stories
- IE6 Doesn’t Display Pages Correctly
Many sites don’t render correctly on IE6. Here are two sites off the top of my head that don’t look quite right:
a) Google Documents has never worked for me in IE6; they have stopped supporting IE6 on Vista.
b) Facebook chat constantly fails for me in IE6. Meanwhile, they ask you to “…switch to another browser”
- IE6 is the 8th Worst Tech Product of All Time says “PC World“
- IE6 doesn’t have tabbed browsing
Why IE6 is still around
- Ignorance: most people don’t know or don’t care
- Beauracracy: Universities, companies, and large organaztion have IE6 preinstalled on millions of computers around the world and they are unwilling to upgrade. I noticed this trend last summer as I traveled around parts of the US, Asia and Europe: public computers default to IE6. What is even worse is that many of these computers are controlled by system administrators, so the user can’t install new programs or browser upgrades! So as I sit here, a New Media student at the University of Amsterdam computer lab, IE6 is my only browser option.
What You Can Do
In addition to the obvious things, we can do…
- Spread the word to friends
- Stop developing for IE6 compatibility
…to kill IE6 we need a top-down approach:
If your organization defaults to IE6 then contact your boss or the IT department and let them know that they are using a seven-year-old technology to run their business! Tell them exactly why IE6 sucks! They’ll probably thank you for being so “cutting edge and innovative”.