Microsoft: IE6 lives 'cause it busts Facebook
'But our duty is to kill it'
Businesses are sticking with Internet Explorer 6 to prevent employees from wasting time on Facebook. At least, that's the word from Microsoft.
Microsoft Australia's chief security adviser has said that customers are holding on to the nine-year-old IE6 because it doesn't properly render Facebook and other non-work-related sites.
Apparently, that's simpler than buying web filtering software or developing legitimate security procedures.
Microsoft's Stuart Strathdee told ZDNet: [Companies are] happy to stay with IE6 because ... a lot of the social networking sites and the sites that they deem are unnecessary for work purposes, they're not going to render and function properly within [older versions of] IE."
But Strathdee is encouraging such businesses to make the move to IE8, released in March 2009. Clearly, Microsoft wants IE6 dead — despite the recent claims of IE evangelist Giorgio Sardo. At tech conference in San Francisco, Sardo said that IE6 is still a "great browser" — particularly in places like China because it can still achieve what users want to do. Apparently, this does not include Facebooking.
Both execs' statements come as IE8's market share inched upwards in May. However, IE's overall share continued to fall. IE hit 59.69 per cent - down from 59.95 per cent in May, according to Net Applications.
IE 8 accounted for 25.15 per cent of the market, up .47 per cent during the month. Versions of IE 8 running in compatibility mode added an additional 3.43 per cent giving all versions of IE 8 a combined share of 28.47 per cent.
Microsoft likes to sweep in the additional 3.43 per cent to bolster its claim that IE 8 is the web's fastest growing browser. Compatibility mode might help on paper, but it's not something you necessarily want to shout about.
Compatibility mode was introduced so IE8 users could continue to view the millions of web sites built to work with IE 7, which does not adhere to web standards. Compatibility mode renders site without breaking them, as would happen if a user tried to view a site built for IE7 using IE8.
Without the compatibility mode stats, IE8 was only just outgrew Google's Chrome: Google's browser grew 0.32 per cent to 7.05 per cent in May. Mozilla's Firefox dropped almost a quarter of a per centage point to 24.35 in May. ®
The quotes, the quotes...
"Part of my job is to get IE6 share down to zero as soon as possible,"
Use Patch Tuesday to set every IE6 user's homepage to http://getfirefox.com?
Corporate webapps and legacy documentation
Corporate webapps and content management systems that were written in the early 2000s frequently declared their pages standards-compliant (!DOCTYPE). Similarly, documentation for applications was commonly supplied in HTML format. At the time the dominant browser was IE6 - over 90% share, especially within companies - and these applications were only tested with it. They couldn't be tested with any standards-compliant browsers because there weren't any - Mozilla was still stuck in development hell and Konqueror just a minority browser on Linux.
The HTML in these pages is not going to change. Companies don't have the resources to replace their webapp if it's functionally working correctly, or the migration path could be very painful. Documentation for older products (particularly HTML Help) obviously isn't going to change for those products, and upgrading the product just to get help compatible with a new standard browser isn't going to happen.
What these customers need is a browser that is fully, 100%, compatible with IE6 for their legacy sites AND standards-compliant going forward. MS broke compatibility with IE7 and while IE8 has and IE9 will have IE7-compatible modes, IE6 compatibility isn't available.
The fact that the browser is a problem may also blocking upgrades to Windows Vista and Windows 7.
A lot of web authors have to wake up and start treating the web as it is, not as they'd like it to be. The browser with the largest share is IE8 and it's the one growing fastest. Including compatibility mode in IE8's share is appropriate - it shows the installed base of IE8, and compatibility mode is only going to be recorded on sites that appear in Microsoft's list or where the user has pressed the compat button. NetMarketshare could do those sites - who are HitsLink customers after all - a favour and tell them that they have problems.
You can make XP/Vista/7 have the old school explorer bars that 2K has.