back to article Orange UK exiles Firefox from call centres

Yes, the corporate world is taking its sweet time upgrading from Microsoft's eight-year-old Internet Explorer 6, a patently insecure web browser that lacks even a tabbed interface. Take, for example, the mobile and broadband giant Orange UK. According to a support technician working in the company's Bristol call centre - who …

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Happy

Sad Corporations

We still use Windows 2000, IE6, Acrobat Reader 7 & Office 2000. Even the XP machines are only allowed IE6 as the Intranet was written for it and stops with anything else.

We can't upgrade to XP because the smegging developers hard coded the software to W2K, wasters.

But we are allowed Firefox.

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FAIL

Pffffff

I'm still forced to use IE6 at work, and I work for the MoD. Whoop!

Pretty much nothing works on the 'net, and rightly so, but they absolutely refuse to upgrade so we get some sort of functionality back.

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FAIL

False economies.

If it saves even fifteen seconds per call, they could afford a 250-quid rebuild every few months even at minimum wage rates. (back of an envelope figures: 15 secs per call, couple of hundred of them a day equals 50 minutes equals roughly a fiver of employee wage time per day 250 / 5 = 50 days to break even point). Since it's not remotely plausible that using firefox would cause a PC to break to the extent that it required a reinstall every couple of months, they'd be quids in if they just let their staff get on with their jobs in the way that they've found is best. It would easily save enough money to pay for a half-decent web dev to fix the IE-isms in their internal applications.

As for the security issues, that's simple. There should be no external access whatsoever. The callcenter workstations should be able to browse the intralan and that's it.

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Paris Hilton

Orange are Yellow

So let me get this right - not only don't Orange management want their tech's to be as efficient as possible, but also there seems to be no way to lobby the internal IT department to get the standard build updated with a more modern/supportable browser. Sheesh - talk about living in the dark ages!

Meanwhile, they (the PHB's) are busy recommending that their customers use a browser version that's two major steps ahead of what the poor call centre folks are using. So am I the only person who thinks that doing this is (a) bloody stupid; and (b) could cause problems if Mr/Ms Public phones up looking for an assist with a problem getting their wizzy new IE8 install working.

Just when I thought _my_ management were the most clueless, along comes Orange to prove me wrong...

(PH icon because even she would think the Orange PHB's dumb)

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FAIL

Oh I Cant wait

The comments here should be good. Im staying tuned to this one and kicking back with some beer and popcorn.

/FAIL because thats what these companies who insist on using IE6 are doing and will continue to wonder why they keep losing customer information.

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Linux

Poor old orange ....

FireFox + IETab and IE 6 = Better life for Call centre staff + NO problems for Orange...

Will the big corps never learm.

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us too oO

Cisco are still on IE6, yay!

At least our IT dont care what we install so FF is widely used. scarily we have internal apps that crash and burn on anything but IE6.

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Grenade

The solution is simple

Just run a portable version of FireFox or Opera from a usb stick and should the machine crash, there will be no trace of either program ever havig been on it.

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Joke

We tried to upgrade

I'm an exec at Orange, and when we called Microsoft to ask them if it was safe to use Fire Fox or whatever you call it, they said NO not under any circumstances was it safe. So don't get angry at management, we tried. Gotta run, time for golf!

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WTF?

WTF IE6?

Portable firefox on a pen drive,no install needed hence no £250 reinstall

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Silver badge
FAIL

Worried...

As much as I like Firefox, I find the idea that call centre staff would even have enough power to install a new application of any sort onto a PC rather worrying!

Surely call centre droids should have an account that is locked down so tight they should count themselves lucky if they can toggle the caps-lock light!

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Same here

We still use IE6 as the corporate browser with random dottings of IE7. No sign of IE8.

What's worse is we have to support it for our users.....makes being on the web team somewhat annoying.

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Bronze badge

@ "False Economies" by AC

"As for the security issues, that's simple. There should be no external access whatsoever. The callcenter workstations should be able to browse the intralan and that's it."

You obviously have little experience of modern businesses, where many 'internal' services are often provided via partner third-parties using Internet/browser-hosted apps. Of course any decent sized company will provide a filtered and firewalled Internet access to the desktops, but external access it will still need to be.

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FAIL

Release Candidate?

"And Firefox 3.5 is now on its first release candidate."

It's not just Orange that needs to get up to date!

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Anonymous Coward

State of the Industry.

Its not just orange. BT still use IE6. Rabidly.

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WTF?

Par for the course in the corporate world.....

IE6 at my workplace too, with no plans to upgrade. All USB stick use is banned as well which rules Portable Firefox out. I've pleaded and pleaded to have firefox and firebug installed on my machine, but to deaf ears. Debugging Javascript is a real joy on our setup.

What i find disturbing is not that the employees actually managed to install Firefox, but that that application appears to be automatically granted internet access. I though our IT department were bad.......

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Troll

Plug in

Aren't there any plugins for IE to emulate Firefox?

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FAIL

NHS

The NHS still use IE6 as well. Probably because the 'developers' who built their shiny 'new' IT system hard-wired everything to it.

Makes my job as a developer of web apps that are sold to the NHS a big fat PITA.

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FAIL

Idiots

I know which company I'll be going to for my next mobile contract and it won't be Orange.

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Go

IE5 here

Yes, you read that right. My place (large law firm) still has about a dozen users using IE5 and most are on IE6. IE7? A few. IE8? Fewer. It's not the developers' fault (our stuff is sane), it's because some of the departments buy their own god-awful web software that hasn't been updated since 2004. It works on nothing except IE, and doesn't even work right in IE8.

On the plus side, nobody's bothered about my Opera use, and Firefox is available if you ask.

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Headmaster

Do they use SAP?

SAP compatibility is the excuse I always hear, but i've never been bothered to dig into the truth of it.

My org is still on IE6 and has the blocks to stop user installation of later versions too. But, we can install Firefox (heck installing games is / at least was allowed).

If you do install a later version of IE (handy that the MSDN versions ignore the blocks...) security updates and patches magically appear down the usual software upgrade pipe. In that sense I think our IT guys are smarter than the average bears.

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I have two words for the IE6 afflicted

"PortableApps Firefox"

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Grenade

Dumb and dumber

So rather than spend a penny to save a dime, Orange has decided to spend a dime to waste 9 pennies.

Unfortunately, it is the same at my work - only IE6 is permitted which lacks modern features such as tabbed browsing, security and compatibility with more and more of the net. Try looking at the Adobe site using IE6.

We also have a multitude of browser based applications, which would be much more efficient spread over just a few windows each with multiple tabs. Instead, you spend an inordinate amount of time hunting for the window you need, re-launching IE6 and every web-app because it crashes and takes it all down and then having to lie to the customer about why everything takes so bloody long. Telling the customer the truth that it's an incompetent, ignorant IT department/management that is the problem doesn't seem to go down very well with Dear Leaders.

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Joke

I prefer

Netscape 2.0

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Thumb Down

Hotline != Techies

Corporate network admins like IE because they can easily implement corporate wide policies on it. Everyone knows IE 6 is a crap browser but *they* think they know (they might actually know for all I know) how to lock it down and an awful lot of money was spent on developing systems to work specifically with it. Like it or not that can add up to a lot of money if it all needs updating. As fro Firefox versus IE - that's a not non-starter when it comes to resources as Firefox is just as much as a resource hog as IE. Opera on the other hand really does perform better on older, slower machines.

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Pint

I worked at 'Redmond' for a while

And even they want IE6 to die. I worked in the security division, most of my time was spent making patches for the browser (especially holes that were fixed in IE7), the rest was to secure parts of the OS, only to have my patches rejected, because some partner needs the hole for their application to work, rather than spend a few minutes to use a different function / API / Etc. or even comply with the basic security guidelines that MS publishes.

Devs always assuming the user has Admin rights, assuming that Java and Flash were installed, and that certain ports were always open, even though they are only accessing the Local machine (that is what WMI is for, idiots). And why can't they make software that properly respects UAC.

There have been so many times that I wanted to strangle the Developers at "mud hut" software and "Star" for requiring that we leave certain hooks in the code so their software can access some of the Windows APIs, even though there are already APIs for it that don't require going through the browser or even admin rights.... Or that they require Admin rights so that they can integrate their shitty updaters into the Startup sequence of Windows

My team did have proof-of-concept copy of Windows that we re-compiled from the ground-up, only the kernel and a few core services ran with admin privileges, and on only what they needed to access. All unsigned code was prohibited from running with anything higher than the current user's access level, and signed code only ran with the permissions it required. We were able to run nearly all of our Applications (the others were re-coded to comply with the security guidelines, ran flawlessly after that)

Ah well, such is my life...

AC, since I have NDAs with the companies....

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FAIL

We are just getting round to moving off IE6

Which means I'll get most of my start bar back, but it's taken a long while.

Shame I've been using Firefox for a few months, bang in the proxies and I'm working a darn sight quicker than I can in IE6.

No back to the future icon?

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FAIL

Waste money

This is called not wasting money, why pay to have a different support plan, then they have a legal responsibility to re-train their staff and they also have to re-test all home built web apps/intra-net for firefox and for what ?

I use Firefox and love it but really in a call center ? Telling staff not to download and install apps from the internet (Firefox or otherwise) is GOOD security advice, IT departments plug hole in IE 6 themselves this is yet another blog-style unresearched story.

The Register should be better than this.....

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Stop

Two issues here

The first one is if Orange shouldn't be moving their browser version forward a little..obviously yes.

The other one is if a Enterprise with a standard build should be allowing users to install any dammed thing they please that they download from the internet just becasue they want to...NO!

I've done desktop support in an enterprise and that experience has shown me that the two things you find on a problem PC 90% of the time are a different browser and google toolbar - its not the users PC, if they can't respect the build what makes you think their going to respect things like data privicy? Don't fine them, sack them

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Headmaster

IE6 only

The US Navy NMCI system is also stuck with IE6 as the leading technology. They have also mandated no other browsers. Of course it took them a long time to transition from sail power as well.

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IE tab add on

I had the same problem with many of the web apps I had to use only working with IE. I installed the IE Tab add on for Firefox so I get a tabbed interface and IE runs in a tab when needed.

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Happy

Shot of reality

While I would agree that moving to modern software would be faster, more productive, etc., it is ultimately the company's choice. If the company is paying its employees to do a job and have clearly spelled out the way that they need to do it, then really what is the issue here?

There are more reasons to a policy then hey, let's piss off its work force. The employees do have a choice, they can choose to be paid, or not.

The policies laid out are not that unusual in a large corporate environments. Let's put the nerd hat on and destroy a quote from Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Stop the complaining, get back to work, and help your employer make some money.

Don't me Dennis Miller. :)

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Badgers

taking umbrage at Michael 2

I don't think Cade Metz here is trying to IE-Versus-Mozilla on us, it seems more to do with the old corporate line of "better the devil you know". FWIW, we went up to IE7, and there was the usual bleatings of "internal apps don't work" but that only lasted a few months whilst bugs were shot.

I imagine here Orange may not have properly tested/certified their CSS app with IE7 (or indeed with Firefox) so are a bit worried about the unknown dangers in other browsers (rather than the known dangers in IE6?). Perhaps their CSS vendor should be more proactive in certifying more recent and more secure browsers?

Let's all go back to writing apps in Visual Basic 4 on NT4 and SQL Server and having the software update itself from a central server every morning :D Who needs workflow management, BPM solutions and realtime data availability when you've got the Step-By-Step Wizard, a bloody huge batch/ETL service and the standard "you'll see the updates tomorrow" rubrick?

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Gates Horns

Here's a different idea

If they have access to the USB ports, they could run Firefox or Opera from U3 - no installation required, and leaves basically no traces.

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Paris Hilton

@Alistair Wall

You can download it at getfirefox.com

I for one couldn't tell the difference!

Paris, 'cos, well...She's kind of an orangey colour.

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WTF?

I would hope...

they can't attach USB keys, much less execute programs on them....

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Thumb Up

since when were companies allowed to fine their staff?

someone should have told me ages ago! 5 quid everytime I catch someone surfing facebook is a lot more fun than just blocking it ;-)

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Stop

What are they paid for?

Hey, this is a call center. The guys are supposed to use the application provided by orange and service customers.

They want firefox because they like browsing for personal purpose at the same time. If employees think they would be more productive with enhanced tools, they can argue about it, but they are not allowed to choose themselves what they believe suits them best.

It is perfectly acceptable for a company to have restrictions on the usage of its stuff I think.

Look at other jobs: you are not allowed to tinker your bus if you're a bus driver, you can't hack yourself your IRM scanner when you work at the hospital, you can't "customize" the lifts at your company, even if they are slow.

All this remembers me the "Y2K" projects where the whole IT industry deemed it legitimate to make the customer pay for faulty design. You have to accept that IT software as well as hardware is an investment and it is legimitate for a company to get value from it as long as possible. The "constant upgrade" mantra is just plain robbery.

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FAIL

Written for IE6

Written for IE6 - says it all really.

If the half-baked neandethal so called developers had even a smallest hint of a clue they'd know to write using standards compliant systems. Instead they dismissed the occasional collision of braincells and just went the MS route which is to break standard web interfaces as much as possible and rely on closed, non-standard, insecure and hugely inconvenient coding and web application methods. Nothing wrong with <A>, but many morons (MS driven) seem to have no concept that a website is different to a local application and instead attack post back JScript events for navigation instead. Almost as bad as the muppets who use flash to create menus in websites.

Of course, if there's anything such as a real reason to code to standards - this kind of epic mess is it.

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USB drive?

Almost all the corporations I've worked for use IE6 as standard (although none has yet told me that I cannot install Firefox). It sounds like Orange has developed a series of Intranet tools to handle customer requests and complaints in which case targetting a specific browser seems perfectly legitimate.

Those who have suggested using FF from a USB drive may be forgetting that USB devices may not be allowed or possible (although strange that downloading from the Internet is possible then). Additionally you are forgetting that logs on the server may well tell the support guy exactly what user agent was in use at the time of the crash so you won't necessarily get away with it.

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WTF?

rebuild costs?

£250 to rebuild a desktop? WTF they're doing it wrong...

In an environment where every machine is standardised how can it cost them that much to redeploy a machine?

Also if you dont want users installing software DONT GIVE THEM ADMIN RIGHTS! simple

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Anonymous Coward

insurance as well

Norwich Union (now Aviva) also use IE6 on all there machines, even if it's full of holes.

The IT dept there are stuck in the stone ages anyway.

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Linux

IE6

It's not just corporations that can't move on from IE6. My SO won't even consider moving on because of the IE7 user interface; unfortunately my efforts to point out that the browser is more than just the UI and IE6 has more security holes that the proverbial Swiss cheese are pointless. Paradoxically, Firefox's UI is more similar to IE6 than IE7, but she still won't consider FF because "I can't get used to it".

IE6 + Internet = computer suicide (even with antivirus, antispyware, antiadware, linkscanner, firewall and all the rest).

Fortunately my own computer doesn't have this problem, as the icon shows.

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Let me fix that for you

>IE6 is still used by 18.5 per cent of all net surfers

You must mean "IE6 is still used by 18.5 per cent of all net sufferers"

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Security Reasons

Some of the web dev guys here wanted FF or IE8 but were told they couldn't have it due to 'security concerns'...wtf? All we can possibly think is that with IE6 they can and have locked down the internet options (all of them, but specifcally the proxy). And they are worried that having a different browser would allow us to bypass said proxy.

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JBR

US spelling

In the guff on the Orange website "get to your favorite pages easier"

Orange = UK website, so why are they using US spelling. Unless the copy/pasted an email for some large US firm that would be involved in marketing IE8...hmmm...

And how is it optimised for Orange? (notice the lack of the zed) Unless the Orange website ain't standards compliant FF, Safari, Chrome et al should all be perfectly good

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