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Phasing Out Internet Explorer 6

As a .mac user I recently received an email from Apple regarding their new MobileMe service (described here). The email states that MobileMe is happy on any Mac or PC. Any PC not running Internet Explorer 6 that is:

“To use the new web applications, make sure you have one of these browsers: Safari 3, Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2 or later”.

We’ve been pushing our IE6 users to upgrade for some time now, but as you can see from our own statistics below even though the number of you using IE6 is falling it still represents a significant portion of usage:

Now it seems others are picking up Apple’s lead and are discontinuing IE6 support. 37 Signals announced last week that they would be phasing out support for IE6 from August 15 2008. Their main reason for doing this is because they believe they cannot deliver the user experience their customers deserve while still supporting IE6. Even though we agree with this wholeheartedly we feel they’ve missed the biggest reason about why you should not be using IE6: security.

As of June, 2008, Secunia, a company that publishes vulnerability and virus information on products, reports over 130 vulnerabilities in IE6, and 24 of them still aren’t fixed! Compare that to other browsers:

Browser Vulnerabilities Unpatched
IE 6 130 24
IE 7 29 10
FF 2 24 4
Safari 3 5 1

As you can see, anything is more secure than IE6 and we believe it’s our duty to get our users using the most secure browser they can, especially when it’s their own financial data that might be at risk.

Before we make a final decision on our own phase out of IE6 support we want to know what you guys think – would you mind if we stopped supporting IE6?

 

Read more about Technology, Development

 

18 comments

[...] Do you think we should phase out IE6 support? [...]

Ben Lilley
10 July 2008 #

I think it’s a great idea to be honest. I’ve stopped supporting IE6 with all my clients, and just offer them a discount for not supporting it.

stuartm
10 July 2008 #

Yes – please stop supporting IE6. The world will be a safer place once it’s gone. And there’s no reason why any legitimate copy of Windows XP can’t upgrade to IE7.

Haydn Thomsen
10 July 2008 #

It’s quite simple. Ask yourself, How many of our customers still use IE6 and it is beyond their control to upgrade? I.e. Mandated by some company or IT policy.

If that number (value) is sufficiently small then phase out support.

Jason
10 July 2008 #

I admit, if there weren’t any technical reasons, such as “we can’t offer feature X” on IE6, it would purely come down to money.

Of those customers that still use IE6, what value do they represent? Are those customers high or low value? How many of them would I lose to competitors if I dropped IE6? Can I help them migrate to a new browser? Would dropping IE6 mean that people with special needs can’t get to my site (site readers/etc)?

A pure count of unpatched vulnerabilities doesn’t tell you the severity of those vulnerabilities. They might be vulnerable but essentially unexploitable. To make that sort of determination you would have to analyse each fault individually.

Matthew Delmarter
10 July 2008 #

The biggest challenge is in the corporate arena. Our experience is that corporates will hold onto IE6 until the bitter end, mainly due to the number of legacy browser-based systems they have to support that are not yet supported in IE7.

As stated, the security offered by the newer browsers should be anough of a reason for corporate IT departments to force change – never mind the improvements in performance of the browser. But instead we have found the IT departments to be the ones that hold things back. The challenge of forcing a migration of the legacy systems as well as deploying IE7 across the organisation seems just too hard.

No more IE6 can’t come soon enough for me, but I fear it is further off that we think.

Nic Wise
10 July 2008 #

you are not TradeMe, you are basicly an application, so yes – I’d say drop it like a hot potatoe. but make sure if someone comes in with IE6, there is a good explanation on what to do, and WHY.

IE6 support these days is like supporting win2000 or 98…. It’s vista or XP, all the way (or, for me, MacOSX)

James
10 July 2008 #

Your stats are misleading – your current customers are early adopters: In the broader market for your products, you will have almost as many users on IE6 as IE7 (I know as I checked our stats last week).

You might want to wait on this one, unless you have a good reason to ceasing IE6 compatibility.

tr3v
11 July 2008 #

On that note, what other browser can I use on a Windows 2000 Server? I am loathed to upgrade this particular server because a) it works perfectly and b) upgrading costs time and money.

Jason Kemp
11 July 2008 #

IE 7 is not so flash this week. Maybe it’s my security settings (but I haven’t changed them) – I have to use IE for testing and it used to work but this week after installing yet another MS update it won’t log me into most sites I used be able to access.

I use Firefox 3 on the same machine or Safari or Firefox on the Mac and can still get those sites but my guess is if they don’t fix it IE 7 is now gone as a usable browser.

After using Task Manager to see what IE does to my system (and for that matter most MS applications) hardware hungry in the extreme – I actively avoid it using IE except when I have to.

Of coures when my system crashes on Firefox I can get back to where I need to be and I can clear the cache much more easily when I need to as well.

Have just started using Sea Monkey as well / which looks like the remains of Navigator with a few extras bolted on.

[...] that non-compliant browsers should be opposed as a matter of principle, as many others have argued before [...]

Karl Hardisty
14 July 2008 #

stuartm: Users of non-genuine copies of Windows XP can now upgrade to IE7 also. Microsoft announced it as a move to ‘make the world wide web a safer place’ (I’ll leave others to muse on that statement).

haydn: I believe you hit it on the head – look at the numbers, and make the call.

trv3: Firefox 3 runs on Windows 2000: http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/system-requirements . You’ll have IE on your system for sites/apps that need it, and can use FireFox for everything else.

james: Not necessarily. The early customers could be the ones that don’t want to mess with existing accounting products, and want the ease of use of an online service. Hard to tell which way it leans without more data.

Rod:

It’s difficult to make that call as the actual timeframes aren’t shown in the graph, and no trends over time as to the browsers in use by new clients (perhaps a tick box on the application?).

There is a solution for installing multiple versions of IE on a machine:

http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE

Those who require IE6 for legacy in-house or other systems can keep it, while having access to IE7 for everyday browsing. It will take some testing – but if it enables you to offer support to legacy IE6 users it could well be worth it.

Ultimately, with Microsoft working on IE8, and IE7 being the current shipping version, IE6 is going to become less and less relevant than it is now. You will have to draw a line in the sand some time – is that time now?

Tim
18 July 2008 #

I would strongly recommend keeping IE6 support. My rationale: you should avoid telling first time visitors to your site (however politely)

“Sorry, we know its lazy of us, but you can’t play with our demo right now. Instead, we suggest you spend 15 minutes downloading and installing IE7, ? minutes futzing around with your internet settings until it works again, and while you’re doing that , why don’t you close IE6, leave our website and forget to come back to it?” :)

Oh, and *cross fingers* hopefully you won’t have to restart your computer…

[...] that companies (37 Signals, Xero, Apple's MobileMe) already have, or are about to start phasing out support for Internet [...]

Richard
14 October 2009 #

What is your companies latest stance on this? A year on do you still support IE6?

Rod Drury
14 October 2009 #

Hi Richard, we have stopped support for IE6.

http://blog.xero.com/2009/04/ie6-is-no-longer-supported/

With great browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari that make web applications like Xero sing it was not worth the investment in work arounds and testing to continue to support it.

We find that the main organisations that remain on IE6 are big IT shops with standard build desktops – like Banks and some large accounting firms.

It’s somewhat ironic they would still use such an insecure browser and concerning that they do not experience the same tools their customers do.

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