Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Internet Explorer 6 Conundrum: Part 1

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ieI just got a call from a user who couldn't get logged into one of my company's sites.  I knew that since it was passed to me, most of the steps were taken to insure that there wasn't a basic block somewhere but had him run through everything again.  Me: "Are cookies allowed?"  User: "Yes."  Me: "Are your cookie setting set for medium or below?"  User: "Yes." Me: Stumped, why was the cookie being blocked?  Ah ha, me: "are you in the office?"  User: "Yes."  Me: "Are your coworkers accessing the site ok?"  User: "Yes."  Me: "What browser are you using?"  User: "Internet Explorer 6.0.blah.blah.blah."

There it was again, the infamous pimple on the face of Web development, Internet Explorer 6.  What made this case even more vexing was that his coworkers also had IE6 but were not having problems setting the cookie.  It made no sense that with a global install, it would work in one case and not the other.  But that is the definition of IE6, inconsistent nonsense.  Theoretically, there would be no rhyme or reason that cookie handling would be any different between two machines (and yes, other IT gurus, I did have him check to make sure the site wasn't blocked and other advanced settings) running the exact same browser, on the same OS, set up by installing from the same image. 

I prodded why he was using a browser that was slowly nearing its tenth birthday and he answered as plain and simple as he could, "we have no say over it, our IT department has to install any new software."  Being the pain that I am, I got an IT contact from the user and contacted their IT department and asked why they won't upgrade the browser for users - for no other reason, there is a definite security advantage to using IE7 or 8.  They explained a common issue that I hear, their third-party browser extensions won't work on IE7 or 8 so they need to stick with 6 and that was the end of the discussion.

I pose this question to these IT staff's, how long are you going to keep an outdated browser before you bite the bullet and have some of your third-party extensions rewritten?  I realize in this economy IT budgeting is dropped down the list of priorities but eventually, there is going to be a time when using a eight year old browser will have some repercussions.

In closing, if you are using your personal machine, have a say of what browser you can put on it, and are using Internet Explorer 6, please, I beg of you, upgrade.  You will be so much happier, more secure, and will make the Web developers in the world feel at peace.

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