Why is the University of Amsterdam still using IE6?

On: December 1, 2008
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About Chris Castiglione
Chris is an alumni of Universiteit van Amsterdam and the New Media M.A. Currently, he is the co-founder of One Month (www.onemonth.com), and the host of the On Books Podcast (www.book-podcast.com).

IE6 sucks

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

  1. IE6 doesn’t support CSS standards
    IE6 complies with (roughly) only 55% of CSS 2.1 Basic properties, compared with Firefox’s 98% compliance.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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”
  5. IE6 is the 8th Worst Tech Product of All Time says “PC World
  6. IE6 doesn’t have tabbed browsing

Why IE6 is still around

  1. Ignorance: most people don’t know or don’t care
  2. 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…

  1. Spread the word to friends
  2. 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”.

Upgrade To Another Browser Now

*This post comes after a long line of other frustrated people trying to make the web a better place: End6, StopIE6.org, BrowseHappy, BrowseSad.

Read more from Chris Castiglione on his technology blog and at One Month (where you can learn to code in 30 days). 

9 Responses to “Why is the University of Amsterdam still using IE6?”
  • December 2, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Forwarded your post to the sysadmins of turfdraagsterpad :)

  • December 2, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    reply from one of the sysadmins (in Dutch):

    Vreemd dat IE7 mist, die is dan kennelijk niet op dit image meegenomen afgelopen zomer (hij heeft op onze images gestaan sinds het begin meen ik).
    Firefox staat er ook op trouwens, dus dat gaat wat ver om te zeggen dat IE6 de enige browser is ;)

    Ook heeft iedereen admin rechten (in 013 en 012) dus ga vooral lekker je gang. Mocht dit niet zo zijn dan horen we het. We zullen het even aanpassen in iedergeval, vooral geen paniek.

  • December 2, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks Erik for forwarding the message along…
    do you mind giving a brief translation for me?

    Yahoo Babel translated it “everyone has admin rights” (which isn’t true in the library/atrium) and “We will adapt it just as in everyone case, especially no panic.”

  • December 3, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Chris,

    babelfish translated it correctly. The rooms the sysadmin talks about are on turfdraagsterpad: 0.12 and 0.13, they have special images and permissions (for new media students). All machines however are given a fresh image each day.

  • December 3, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Lol! Well, we discussed the notion of the lowest common denominator to dictate the speed of technological adoption right?

    I’d be interested in the question how many people are actually using the MSN Windows Live IM. That program brings my computer to a grinding halt with all the advertisements it features! Why does it takes so much system memory to type ‘Hi’ to someone!?

  • December 4, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Why don’t you guys start using linux? Ubuntu is installed as a dual boot on all machines in 0.12 and 0.13

    As for the msn load, why don’t you try the open source pidgin? It connects to msn and multiple other im protocols and it is fast and lightweight.

  • December 5, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Hi Erik,

    I already have pidgin, I was just on a rant ;)On the stupidity of it all. Thanks for the tip though!

  • December 5, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    lol we could also use Trillian or Jabber, a lot of people bring their Powerbook/Laptop/MacBook to these rooms though, but thanx for the tip of the dual boot, I didn’t know

  • April 26, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Just an update to this article.
    Sometime in early March 2009 I noticed that the University of Amsterdam upgraded to IE7.

    And due to restrictions, no other browsers are allowed to be used.

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