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back to article Anti-Internet Explorer 6 protests grow with online petition

Opposition to the UK government’s continued endorsement of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 continues to mount, after a petition was submitted to Number 10 yesterday. "We the undersigned petition the prime minister to encourage government departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6," reads the online appeal that was …

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Anonymous Coward

oo

An internet petition! I'm sure they're shivering in their bunkers as we speak!

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Stop

It's the Del boy's clapped out Reliant Robin of browsers

(with flat tyres)

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Gates Horns

Typical

"Microsoft will officially kill the browser in July 2014."

Typical irresponsible behaviour from Microsoft, once again showing scant regard to the security of it's "customers" (victims?). It's reprehensible to encourage people to drop Windows XP while leaving IE6 staggering around like some kind of software zombie. But then there's no money to be made from browser upgrades, is there?

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XP still lives

I believe because Vista was such a sham, they're supporting XP installations (probably on netbooks) until 2014, which means they have to support IE6 until then, too.

So I agree, while they're urging customers to move away from XP and upgrade to 7, they still have to support those where it's not possible to due to hardware constraints. People who have just bought a shiny new netbook with XP won't be fond of the idea of buying a new one just to be able to upgrade to Win7.

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FAIL

Knowledge obviously isn't a prerequisite for commenting

That "shiny new netbook with XP" will quite happily run IE8.

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Grenade

XP

No need for IE6

Opera, Seamonkey, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and IE7 all work on XP for me.

Admittedly I only use IE7 for .CHM and other Microsoft stuff that doesn't work with Firefox.

Why on earth MS supporting IE6 for so much longer? If you have something that only runs IE6 you are in deeper trouble.

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@Mage

Use UnMHT instead.

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FAIL

Why?

Why are you using IE7 on XP? IE8 runs on IE7 so there's no need for IE7 as well as IE6..

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FAIL

Why on earth MS supporting IE6 for so much longer?

they have to support it for as long as the product it came bundled with is supported.

in this case IE6 came bundled with XP, and because if you do a fresh install of XP, IE6 is the default browser they have to support IE6 till the support ends for XP

this is a failure in Microsoft's support policy, they either need to separate IE as an individual product which would then let them end support for it or update their support policy to exclude it

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Gates Horns

Why?

Why are you running Aieee at all? In fact, why are you running Windwoes at all?

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Megaphone

Contract change notices: heard of them?

1. Management consultancies will be lining their pockets because the civil service muppets signed contracts which specified IE 6.

2. CCN's take two years to negotiate in the public sector (if you're lucky). So don't hold your breath.

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FAIL

Start the sackings

Whichever Whitehall moron spec'd a design that did not follow the open and widely published standards at the time needs sacked.

They would not be in this mess if they had followed the standards.

No proprietary modules means no lock-in.

There is noth9ing else to be done, sack them for gross professional negligence.

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Anonymous Coward

Sacked?

How would that help? The department would still be stuck with IE6.

By all means track down the idiot, or idiots, and sack them, but it won't suddenly mean IE6 can be dropped.

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WTF?

Typical

The French and Germans ditch IE6 in favour of FF and Chrome. Our gov announces the NHS will be upgraded to IE7, another out of date browser!

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Anonymous Coward

Not the same thing

The French and German governments advised home users to move away from IE to other browsers. That's a hell of a lot easier than trying to replace IE6 within an entire government-run institution.

I wonder if the same people who signed the petition would be able to deal with the fallout of 1.3 million NHS employees switiching to a different browser on a whim. Clearly the upgrade to IE7 is happening, but I wouldn't fancy running that project.

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Gates Horns

IE6?

There people out there still using Windows? Why? I mean really.. Why?

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Silver badge

Because..

Windows works out of the box on every bit of hardware it claims to. On the rare occasion when an obscure device doesn't have a driver you can be sure to download it and get it installed without having to rebuild the kernel or break into a sweat.

Linux might be better for techies and geeks but for most people Windows is easier. The occasional security issue is a minor nuisance. By contrast Linux can be a PITA to configure and although it's more secure that can often leave you f'ing and blinding because of apparently stupid hoops you have to jump through.

It can be a tough choice sometimes but in general Linux wins for servers, loses on the desktop. Not by all that much in either case. The main thing is not get partisan about it. Assess the requirements and choose what's most appropriate.

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@Because..

If only - I gave up trying to reinstall XP on my desktop and laptop and now have Ubuntu on them.

The recovery disk for the laptop failed to recover properly and no matter how hard I tried I could not persuade Window's to recognise the SoundBlaster card in the desktop.

I don't blame Windows in particular here but the 3rd party culture of proprietary code. Whilst the linux eco-system leads to a progressively more useful set of technical knowledge solidified in code for a wide range of hardware the Windows eco-system leads to a nightmare scenario of bit-rot if you ever stray outside the support window.

It's a fact of computing life that system setup can be full of pitfalls and that the probability of getting stung by one is proportional to the complexity of the system. This needs to be treated on a case-by-case basis rather than pretending that some system has a magic ability to avoid these sorts of problems.

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This is worrying...

I'm a little worried why so much attention is being placed on this. Surely the point of the web is to be platform independent, and any web developer worth their salt designs to web standards and not individual browsers.

The security question is also worrying. It assumes that all of the government users have direct access to the internet as a whole. I would *hope* there would be content filters etc that will block access to potentially damaging sites. And since MS are supporting the browser until 2014 I assume they will still release security patches for it. Again, I would *hope* there's a decent patch policy in place to roll these out to users...

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Unhappy

Re : ? This is worrying...

The whole point is that IE6 does NOT adhere to web standards and many people have coded specifically for it. Hence the mess.

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"any web developer worth their salt designs to web standards and not individual browsers."

....if only!

As a business, why would I want to pay a web developer that delivered a site that cannot be used by an appreciable segment of the potential market. Standards matter little in the face of £.

This is why the Google move is significant - for such a large entity to effectively say to a portion of its customer base that it cares not about them is a wake up call that is long overdue.

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FAIL

IE6 is not a significant proportion...

...outside of the intranet. The dominant browsers are Firefox, IE7, and IE8. And probably in that order.

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FAIL

UKGOV better with IT Than Google?

So Google fell foul to attacks but our wonderful government thinks they don't have to worry because they keep their systems up to date.

Has the muppet that wrote that ever worked within a UK Government IT department, they are bloody awful with hundreds of unpatched and out of date machines knocking about. They honestly think that something that hit Google won't hit them.....

Whatever

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Anonymous Coward

I know.

Can you say "Conficker"? (Look at the recent police debacle)

Can you say "Open, unsercure USB ports"?

For this, and cost reasons, the government should be moving to Linux (and encouraging schools to do the same, not paying for MSs advertising). Linux does have problems. Linux can be attacked and could get vriuses; but it is still more secure than Windows. Damned sight cheaper too.

Oh yeah, and no IE6 to worry about!

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Recommendations to update to IE7?

Surely recommending the NHS (or others) upgrade from IE6 to IE7 is like recommending they upgrade from carrier pigeons to telegrams. What's wrong with any of the range of modern browsers?

The implicit assumption that Microsoft are in some way a 'default' or ideal candidate is ludicrous. They've never shown any ability to produce a decent browser and nothing in their roadmap shows they've any plans to. For developers, designers and content producers of all kinds, it's thoroughly depressing that MS are almost being encouraged to hold up development of the internet. Nobody with any kind of public responsibility should be seen advocating IE usage in any way. Firefox, Safari, Opera, even Chrome (I just don't get Chrome) - there's a wealth of choice.

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IE...

Isn't a bad browser, it's just that everything else is better.

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No.

Ayeee actually is a bad browser.

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FAIL

Title Schmitle

What a rubbish petition... that's not to say that I don't think that the Govt should be upgrading to a different browser (cause frankly it is shit) but the reasoning is complete pish.

His petition states the following:

“IE6 has some security flaws that leave users vulnerable. These two governments have let their populations know that an upgrade will keep them safer online. We should follow them." I'd like to know what these security flaws are - is he suggesting that he knows of exploits in IE6 that Microsoft haven't fixed? If so, he should do the right thing and disclose the details (publically or privately, I don't really care) as IE6 is still supported by MS and I'm sure they'd like to know of these vulnerabilities so they can fix them.

Also, he states that:

“Most creative and software development companies are forced by government department clients to build websites for IE6 when most of the industry has moved on. Companies insist that they need IE6 support because government departments use it and won't be able to see their sites or services without it."

What a load of bollocks. Since when has the Government dictated anything to 'most creative and software development companies'..?

And this guy is simply delusional if he really thinks that because Gordy's IT department upgrade then the rest of Europe is gonna follow suit. We've not been a super power for donkey's years... despite what us Brits like to believe, nobody else looks to us to decide what they should be doing.

This whole thing is a marketing scam just so that he would get his company's name mentioned on BBC, El Reg, etc... Like 99.999% of IT workers, I'd never heard of them until today - and I've already forgotten what they're called so his plan hasn't worked really.

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Thumb Up

Agreed

Running firefox on mac with a memory leak analyser always makes for a hilarious drinking game. Every time you hit a multiple of 1000 Mallocs that go unfreed and unreferenced take a shot...

Can get through a litre of vodka quite quickly in a normal web browsing session.

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@James

So you reported these leaks along with the analysis?

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Leaks in javascript

At least, it is in my experience.

Using noscript and only allowing a handful of sites through, Firefox tends to eat far less RAM and crashes much, much less. I leave my machine on 24/7 often with uptimes of several weeks (which for Windows is good) and the same instance of FF running the entire time.

Whether actual rendering speed is slower I'm unsure. If it is, it's not hugely noticeable. What is noticeable is that Firefox is far less responsive than some of its competitors with the entire UI often locking up for several seconds whilst it messes about in the background. 3.6 is marginally better, but it's not a huge improvement.

Slowly switching to Chrome here, although I don't much like the tab layout with more than 10 or so tabs open, but at least it stays responsive.

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Anonymous Coward

Somebody just need to use one of the IE flaws to nick

a public officials private pr0n files. That will get their attention.

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Grenade

The reason they won't tell you about

Government, particularly local Government, are still running software that relies on IE6 that was written 7-8 years ago. This software is the backbone of many a department. The person who wrote the software left 3-4 years ago and left not a scrap of source code. And this software contains 7-8 years worth of data in a proprietary format that God himself would find hard to untangle. And that data exists only in this system.

Government is desperately trying to avoid having to get someone in to decypher the data and import it into new, expensively written, software that relies on IE7.

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Flame

Sounds familiar...

In a previous job, I worked for an arms-length, quango type company that administered an EU funding stream for the Scottish Executive.

Part way through my employment they changed the process that applicants used to claim money, from paper forms to an online system. This system (which arrived several years behind schedule) was designed to run on IE6, and although we found it would run on other browsers, it would often do odd things. On one occasion I recall phoning the Exec's IT peeps on behalf of a small voluntary organisation who, to save money, were trying to run entirely using OSS - their response upon hearing that the applicant was running Firefox was "Oh good, we don't need to deal with this one.".

We also had remote access to one of the Exec's internal databases through a web front-end, which, you guessed it, only ran on IE6.

I wouldn't be surprised if both these system are still around and causing misery.

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WTF?

not the worst of it..

Believe it or not I have a UK public sector client who still requires support for WinNT running IE5.5!

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FAIL

Drop IE6?

Not good enough. They need to skip IE7 and demand that all services work using the STANDARDS!

Then, if one browser/system shows up a major security flaw (as IE has; repeatedly) it is a simple matter to switch. No lock-in.

You should comply with the standards FIRST (reporting any rending issues to the manufacturers as defects) and then go about tweaking. Not conforming to the standards is idiotic and tantamount to professional negligence.

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Thumb Up

Please

can anyone just please exploit some IE6 weaknesses with the UK gov?

Just for the hell of it, to shut them up?

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Unhappy

not just government

I work - through an out sourcer - for a bank in the Netherlands..

our standard build here includes IE6

Before here, I worked for another bank in Belgium - there we used Windows 2000 on citrix powered dumb (ass) terminals and yes, our browser was IE6

perhaps the common theme here is Out Sourcing contracts... as was pointed out CCNs are expensive for the end clients.

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Unhappy

waste of time...

the petition is never going to do anything as the government can do nothing but advise the public.

what we need to do is what they did in Norway.

All the web development companies, ISP's, etc.. in fact anyone who builds websites, need to come together and collectively stop developing for IE6.

Once you cant visit any website because your IE6 wont display it correctly, people will update...

[sad face because we will be supporting IE6 till 2014]

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Silver badge
FAIL

petition fail

"Deadline to sign up by: 01 February 2011"

So, nothing will be done with it for another year.

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Anonymous Coward

BUT - IE7 will not run on W2k!

So who is going to pony up the money to upgrade 10's of thousands of machines that can't even install XP? These machines work perfectly well on W2k using intranets, and would not need to b changed but for these 'unnecessary' software problems.

OpenOffice + any decent browser, and save scrapping all these machines?

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@Lester

Open office uses more memory and CPU resources than MS Office, unfortunately.

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Anonymous Coward

But OO works on ANY old hardware without a problem!

And I can move transparently from windows to Linux

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Web coders unite

If everyone removed IE6 support from their website code, there would be a big incentive for those who use it to switch to something else once people found that they could no longer browse their favourite websites.

Perhaps anything we wanted to keep secret from HMG should just be posted on sites that don't support IE6?

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Anonymous Coward

Another reason to use FireFox

Personally I use Firefox. For those sites that insist on MSIE, I use IETab.

The choice between IE6 with lots of security weaknesses but a sensible user interface and IE7/8 with slightly fewer security flaws but a user interface that deliberately put the buttons that I use most at the far corners of the screen (and doesn't allow me to configure them any other way) would be hard to make.

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@AndrueC

"Windows works out of the box on every bit of hardware it claims to."

It doesn't claim to run on much -- XP is 8 years out of date and surprisingly SP1, SP2, SP3 did not add more recent drivers, and Vista and 7 dropped support for older hardware. XP being the bigger problem of the two -- seriously, try installing XP on something, you are HIGHLY *HIGHLY* likely to find you have no ethernet drivers, no sound drivers, and 640x480 video, and (if it has it) no wireless. You may have to shove in a driver disk just to install since XP also has no SATA drivers. And 7, you can't really count on installing it on some older system and have it work -- there's a lot of older stuff it does not support. I can plug the same Ubuntu CD into anything from a Pentium 2 through a Core 2 (and I'm sure newer stuff), and EVERYTHING works out of the box. IMHO the biggest weakness traditionally was wireless (it's improved recently), Ubuntu includes a package to install Windows wireless drivers if needed, right off the Windows driver CD!

" On the rare occasion when an obscure device doesn't have a driver you can be sure to download it and get it installed without having to rebuild the kernel or break into a sweat."

Not rare at all! And Linux has modules, so for the few items that do not have out-of-the-box support (but do have a driver available), for most distros you click it off a list, it does download source and build it but the package does the work for you, and since it's a module there's no kernel rebuild required. The nvidia driver for one does this.

"Linux might be better for techies and geeks but for most people Windows is easier."

You may not have used recent distros. I find people are afraid of ditching Windows, but (unless they use Quickbooks or something that really does need Windows), once they do ditch Windows they actually find Ubuntu to be easier than Windows. A few people I know were hardcore into Windows, they still have Windows but now they dual-boot, basically using Windows for games.

--------------------

That said... this really isn't about ditching Windows. They should absolutely ditch IE6 either way! It's just not secure. UK.gov is foolish for thinking some setup + Microsoft patches will help them, I didn't think Microsoft was even patching every hole in IE6 in favor of patching IE7 and IE8.

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Linux

Re : @AndrueC

Agree entirely - I've built 2 brand-new Linux systems (OpenSUSE 11.0/11.2) in the the last year and in both cases had no issues with installation/config. The most recent system (dual-core Pentium, pci wireless) installed from start in ~20mins. which included most of the applications.

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FAIL

It's the INTRAnets people...

...and at the end of the day, the real reason they don't want to ditch IE6 is because no one wants to spend the time and money to overhaul their intranets (which were foolishly written to only render/function correctly on IE6).

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FAIL

Hell why not

For what it's worth (usually very little) I've signed it. I'd like an update if not for the security reasons (though I don't see how you can make it more secure seeing how tightly locked down the internet is on MoD systems) but for the fact that half the internet is broken on IE6 and it's about time we had an update just so I can use Google Maps on a semi reliable basis.

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