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back to article Javascript guru calls for webwide IE6 boycott

Douglas Crockford - the man who "discovered" JSON and a senior Javascript architect at Yahoo! - has called on all major websites to simultaneously force the world's IE6 users to download a browser that isn't nearly nine years old. "My proposal for solving the IE6 problem? It has to be solved by the major website developers. One …

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Day late, decade short ...

I banned IE6 when it was in Pilot build, before it was even in Beta ...

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WTF?

agh

Id hate to see these Chinese people's idea of a shite browser then.

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I'd guess Netscape Navigator 4 would fit the bill

Yes, Netscape Navigator 4 - that web browser that Firefox was, ultimately, based upon. Many now forget how pigging awful that browser was, to build for.

In comparison to that, IE 6 was, actually, a step forwards. Sometimes even a drunken step forwards is a step forwards. However, I once recall jokingly commenting to my ex-colleagues at glasshaus press, that - because of the way it was foisted upon its users - Internet Explorer 6 would eventually become the Netscape 4 of it's day.

That day has not only dawned (it dawned several years ago) but it now seems to have fallen itself into a perpetual loop: each morning, we seem to be waking up to that same bloody day...

The problem in China is not improved by the fact that the Chinese version of Internet Explorer for mobile is based on IE 6:

http://www.brucelawson.co.uk/category/wtf/

That is why calls, like this one - for some sort of worldwide coordinated attempt to 'break the Internets' for all IE 6 users, at once - are, to quote Bruce Lawson, "An activity that is as cathartic as it is fruitless".

(Of course, these mobile users should all be using opera Mobile, instead... But I would say that, wouldn't I? And so would Bruce.)

The best option, is to do what we did with Netscape 4, and build-in graceful degradation, and ensure that the site is still usable in the crappy old browser, even if the layout is a bit borked. most users tend to assume its something wrong with their own computer, whenever something goes wrong - and in this case, they'd actually be right. Eventually, if it annoys them enough, they might ask someone clever, whether there was anything they could do about it - and in this case, there would be!

The important thing to recognise, is that the user came to your website for the content, and not the presentation. If you're all-presentation, and no content, of course, then you have a problem, but it's not a problem that forcing a new browser on your users will fix.

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Happy

Ah, it wasn't so bad.

I have fond memories of hacking together HTML pages with javascript browser detection code to make it 'work' in both IE and Netscape.

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Troll

virtual IE6?

just wandering, but would it be possible to create a *virtual* IE6 (with ActiveX) and allow it to run inside another browser? We already have XP mode, so why not IE6 mode?

note, all the companies that are stuck with IE6 should be able to upgrade if the IE6 mode is ever created.

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Multiple IE's

I used to have something called Multiple IE's, allowed you to run many versions of IE (3-6 IRC).

Since I started using Vista / 7 its not worked, but it was useful to have. I don't think its in development any more, so IE7 would probably be missing from the collection.

http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE

It would be nice if Microsoft could provide such compatibility.

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Alternative

There is an alternative - BrowserSeal.BrowserPack

http://www.browserseal.com/

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Control freaks

Who cares what browser someone uses? I think this is just a matter of arrogant web developers wanting their work to look and work the way they think it is supposed to. Shouldn't people be free to look at the web in any way they want?

I have never used any version of IE because it won't run on most operating systems, but the various browsers that I do use are all set up to render web pages to suit my own taste. Sometimes that is very different from what someone else might want or expect. Any web developer who feels that they are the ones that should be in control should go back to printing fine art books. It is not how the web works, nor the way it is supposed to work.

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Grenade

Ole Juul:control freaks

It's about how the client, the person that hires the developer wants a website to look.

It's about coding css and html which will render the same regardless of browser

it's about only having to code to standards compliance and not having to hack the code for it to work across multiple platforms.

People *are* free to look at the web in anyway they want. What is restricting you?

Yes companies should poll every person on the planet and ask them how they want the new corporate website to look. Maybe the design and layout shouldn't be consistent with the company image.The developer could then code several billion different versions for all those less smart than yourself who can't customise browser rendering.

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It's about staying sane

Spoken like a true end-user. Try working in web development for a while then tell me you don't want to hold IE6 face-down in a bathtub until it stops struggling, too.

You should be free to look at the web however you see fit, that's kind of the point. But like it or not, the web has changed since 2001, sites are more demanding of browser accuracy in how they interpret well-defined standards, and if your choices mean you're part of a fraction of a percent of visitors, it's not realistic to expect that developers will go out of their way to accommodate you. It's essentially impossible to test for every possible combination of OS, browser and personal settings, so you test for the most common ones that cover nearly everyone. If the developer did their job right, and your browser follows standards, and your personal settings choices aren't completely off-the-wall, you're probably OK anyway.

This is where IE6 raises havoc. Getting websites to work properly in every other browser, even IE7, is generally not hard. If it displays normally in one, it should display normally in the rest without too much effing around, at least in my experience. But IE6, even in default out-of-the-box configuration, just doesn't play nice when it comes to rendering pages. It comes from a time when standards were being crapped all over in an attempt to grab market share and it shows. It's by far the biggest waste of developer time to get sites working right with it, but as long as it has some noticeable market share then there's a need for businesses to at least partly support it. Which means countless wasted hours that they're having to pay someone for to support a browser which should have gone the way of Netscape 4 by now.

I look forward to the day when IE6 share is low enough to ignore and if someone actually chooses to use it, well that's their choice and they have to live with the consequences. We still see occasional visits from NN4 and IE4 and 5, but I sure don't lose sleep over whether those 0.01% of our visitors had a good experience.

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Bah!

CSS ... the same on all browsers.

And how's that working out for you?

Funny stuff this. I switched to using Firefox a few months ago at the urging of a few baying hounds. The net result was that my blogspot-hosted blog stylesheets occasionally mis-render with a vengeance. Never did on *any* of the I.E. versions I used, ever.

Bottom line: if any webstore tries to tell me to use another browser I write to the people who own the business behind that web-frontage and tell them exactly how much I was prepared to spend that day and where I got the item instead as a direct response to their "suggestion".

When I do this it is with the fervent hope they "ream a new one" in the developer, who should know better than to foist their problems off on the customer.

Can you imagine McDonalds refusing to serve people at a drive through window unless they drove one of the manager-approved vehicles? The same principle applies.

I sometimes wonder if web developers have any real grasp of where their money comes from.

As for your much-vaunted CSS, my corporate firewall netnanny occasionally doesn't like CSS files and discards them. Many's the Register article that's been delivered to my screen as though it was marked-up by someone under the influence of LSD. A vast improvement over the old tabular markup, that.

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re: Ole Juul:control freaks

@adnim:

"It's about how the client, the person that hires the developer wants a website to look."

That is certainly a control issue and I can see how the developer can have a problem there.

"It's about coding css and html which will render the same regardless of browser"

No it's not. It's about coding to standards and letting the public do whatever they want with it. Some of us use a reader, some of us have mental issues with flickering images, there's all kinds of us out here. Would you try to restrict someone from using any particular translator? Stick to the standards and leave people alone.

"People *are* free to look at the web in anyway they want. What is restricting you?"

Apparently you and Douglas Crockford would like some restrictions.

Yes, a standard browser would be a good thing, and certainly a boon to developers, but it would require controlling hardware specifications and thus also what operating systems it could run on. It will be impossible to please all skill levels, interest levels, and economic groups. There are many reasons why it is not a good idea to demand standards on the client side.

PS: I have never been able to use IE6 and would never defend its quality. I am just defending other people's use of it - for any reason whatsoever.

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mcdonalds

If I show up to mcdonalds in my horse and cart I am probably too high to reach the window so your saying they should build a special high window just for us few horse and cart users, and have someone on permanant standby to shovel up all our shit.

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Stop

RE: Control freaks

"Who cares what browser someone uses?"

Web developers.

Try using Youtube using Lynx. It doesn't work. That's because the browser is old and text only. IE6 is old and has drawbacks of it's own. Developers are sick of having to write special caveats in the code to deal with IE6. (Hell, I was sick of it within minutes of it coming out)

"Any web developer who feels that they are the ones that should be in control should go back to printing fine art books."

They *are* in control. They write the content. If it can't be viewed properly in certain browsers then people just can't view the site properly - since all browsers these days claim to be standards compliant then that shouldn't be a problem, should it?

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Stop

RE: Bah!

"CSS ... the same on all browsers.

And how's that working out for you?"

Pretty well. It's used by pretty much every web page I visit and they all display perfectly. I know from the time I've spent as a web developer that it saves a lot of time and effort. Standards across browser platforms are a good thing!

"Can you imagine McDonalds refusing to serve people at a drive through window unless they drove one of the manager-approved vehicles? The same principle applies."

Rubbish. That's a flawed analogy for starters.

...but let's run with it.

IE6 is a vehicle that requires fuel manufacturers to implement a fleet of nano-robots to miraculously alter petrol as soon as it leaves the pumps, otherwise it doesn't work. You're lucky to make it as far as McDonalds without it crashing...

"I sometimes wonder if web developers have any real grasp of where their money comes from."

Of course they do. Adding extra time to deal with code changes for shockingly bad crap like IE6 just makes their jobs so much harder.

"my corporate firewall netnanny occasionally doesn't like CSS files and discards them"

That's not a flaw in CSS, it sounds like a configuration problem with the firewall...

The point is this:

standards = good

IE6 = old

IE6 != standards compliant

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re: RE: Control freaks

"Try using Youtube using Lynx. It doesn't work. That's because the browser is old and text only."

Many people use Lynx - a lot because they're blind and use DOS. There are also other browsers which don't "work" on Youtube. Besides not everyone is able to see or hear. Do we all have to be the same?

"Developers are sick of having to write special caveats in the code to deal with IE6."

Fair enough.

"They *are* in control. They write the content."

They are not in control - but many want to be. :) Besides, if developers are the ones writing the content then we're really in trouble.

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FAIL

That shows a remarkable lack of understanding of the audience.

I'd wager most IE6 users aren't using IE6 because they like it. Chances are they are either not aware of it or can't change it. I think those still using IE6 fall into two categories:

*Homes users who will just tell you that they've "got the internet on their computer" and will have no idea nor care about their browser.

*Corporate users whose company is still using XP and has not updated IE.

The former will merely be confused by Mr Crockford's plan. They will probably just try and ignore it, or will click to install an arbitrary replacement browser which may or may not cause them problems. To these people, IE is part of their computer. It works for them and they'll have no interest in changing it. It will change when their computer breaks down at some point and they have to replace it. Then they'll get Windows7/Mac/Whatever and the cycle will continue.

The second category of users probably _can't_ update their browser due to restrictions or policies at work. All this plan will achieve for these people is to frustrate them and deny them access to the sites in question.

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Anonymous Coward

it'll be many years

before corporations update, if ever.

I have worked for my company for 7 years, in that time i have witnessed an the IE upgrade to 5.5 & IE5.5 to IE6. Also the windows NT/2000 to XP upgrade. The latest (XP & IE6) was only 4 years ago and it took 2 years of planning/testing before that. To my knowledge, actual code changes were minimal, a few apps switched to pull details from the AD, and a lot of extra network security was shoehorned in.

If somebody high up actually made the decision, and was prepared to pay for it, we could be on IE8 & windows 7 by 2014. Even Firefox & Linux by 2017, 2020 at the latest :)

Big corporations aren't like home users, or even small businesses. We'd be talking physical machine upgrades in a lot of cases (some struggle with XP), at over 2000 sites. Some of those sites have 5000+ users, although the bulk only have 10-20. Assuming even only minor changes to some of the intranet sites/browser apps, you'd still have update several hundred web servers, without interruption (24hour working in some places).

A server application code change means doing the 2000ish site server updates, without interruption (if you cause a reboot, you can guarantee at least 1 won't restart properly) A browser update to all the clients would take weeks, if not months, to avoid serious impacts, so any code changes to support it have to co-exist with the old versions during the rollout. The logistics of large corporate rollouts are mind-boggling. You end up writing code that is only live for 3-4 weeks then removed

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Boffin

Many years?

You were right to wait for the XP upgrade, completely useless. 2000 was better than XP hands down, who wants a playschool interface, the only benefit of XP over 2000.

But I do not believe it takes so long to upgrade software, when it is required!!! Now, the question is, how do you handle security patches? Seriously, something is seriously wrong in the way you work.

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Suits me, suit you sir?

10% market share, various hacks required to get standards compliant code to render correctly.

It's about time all developers forgot it ever existed.

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WTF?

hypocrites

Yet again the bullshitters are out in force. Do I mean MS? No. The Mozilla fanboys....

If MS are to continue to support XP, why are Mozilla dropping Mac Tiger support a NEWER OS than XP.

Yes i.e.6 is shit, but to tell a company they must develop for a obsolete browser, when others do not, is just crap.

And yes I use XP, but am happy to admit it's past it's best and don't expect new shiny toys to be made for it.

Pot meet kettle

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FAIL

why not step in?

Get the FF code and support Tiger yourself. Can't do that with IE can you?

Oh, wait, this'll mean actual effort on your part Diddums.

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Boffin

macs are different

You get a new OS every year for the mac, roughly, and you usually support the latest two releases of an OS, we do, as a software company, like may others ...

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Sardo suggesting linux?

So, sardo suggests people who are pirating xp, with boxes that can't run 7, upgrade their oses? Sounds like he's suggesting ubuntu (or since it's china, maybe red flag linux) to me. Good suggestion.

so, i am not for a "death to ie6" day just because i don't believe in that kind of artificial check. However, ie6 is awful and no one should feel obligated to make sure a site actually works with it. If by dumb luck it does then ok thogugh.

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Unhappy

we that's me screwed then.

My workplace aren't going to upgrade their browsers (mostly ie6) just so people can go onto social networking sites. We dont have admin access to install anything. I fear that i will now have do actually do some work!

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Coat

screwed?

Companies that use a nine years old browser need a new syssy ( := System Administration) team.

I would have refused to work for that company in 2001, when that lame excuse for a browser arrived.

As for nestscape, say what you want, but netscape started quicker than ie on windows. I remember netscape clicking ie, waiting for 1 full second, clicking netscape 4.7 and seeing netscape displaying the page before ie. when it comes to get your work done .... at that time, mozilla 0.7, iirc, was somewhat slower ...

That was on Windows 2000, P3 550Mhz, 256Mb in 2001.

And most people are on hotmail, when back in the day, say 1998, netscape mail allowed 3 times bigger emails to be sent (3MB), reception of emails 5 times bigger (5MB) and 5 times more space (10MB) to save your emails than hotmail ... since, it has only gotten similar although you have imap/smtp for free with nescape mail (now aim mail). gmail now offers all that as well ...

Idiots, idiots, idiots ... when I see a guy sending a job application from hotmail, claiming he has years of IT experience, I know it's a twat I don't want in my company ... ;-)

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Stop

Opera, top of the Javascript compliance, and runs on old PC's too

You just need to get people to realise that...

http://sputnik.googlelabs.com/

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FAIL

Does it run ActiveX?

Does it support Windows Group Policies etc?

Can it be easily deployed and controlled by IT Admins etc?

These are the question that need answered, not a webby prima-donna "Ooh, shinies".

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ActiveX

To be honest I don't think ANYTHING should support ActiveX - almost anything that I've seen that's required ActiveX has had an alternative Java app for other browsers.

Fair enough on the other two points though - in a networked Windows monoculture there are actually reasons to use IE... and in that environment it's very expensive to do a full upgrade across the board - new hardware, Windows 7 and IE9.

I think we've just got rid of the last Win2k box running IE5.5 about a month ago.

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Anonymous Coward

IE9 on XP? Why?

I know web sites would like pirate copies of IE6 to be updated, but for MS it doesn't make sense, and there's a lot of engineering effort that they'd have to put in.

Better to let them use firefox.

That said, in my F100 day job a lot of the work sites do only work with IE6; they recognise firefox and tell you off before throwing you off. These aren't sites you can switch from, not unless a competitor will do my travel expenses. Why do the corporate sites do this? They were written at a time when Ie9 had market share and it would cost money to upgrade.

Fortunately, the death of XP is forcing the company to upgrade. This is not the "you can't buy XP but can still install it" situation we've been with vista but the "no more security patches" death, which means the company has to move to Win7 and presumably Ie8. I would prefer they embrace chrome or firefox, obviously, though they'd probably just commit to Firefox 2.0 for the next decade, which would hurt just as much.

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Flame

Not going to happen

I wish we could boycott the horror that is IE6 (and 7). IE8 I will tolerate if I must. But let's face it, most major corporates and government departments still use IE6 and will continue to use IE6 as that's the only thing their sites work on (because they drank the MS kool-aid and got locked in - morons).

So yeah, sure. Boycott IE6 is you want, and watch your sales crash.

Meanwhile in the real world, web developers will be driven to distraction try to get stuff to work on that abomination. (And yes, some of us are *actual* developers, we write the front and the back-end; it may look a bit ugly but I can guarantee it works - even on IE6!)

Until the old IE6-only systems get replaced (10 years or so) we will be stuck with IE6.

Unless, of course, this IS the year of the Linux desktop? Umm...nope. Thought not.

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B2B or B2G only

"... most major corporates and government departments still use IE6 and will continue to use IE6..." "So yeah, sure. Boycott IE6 is you want, and watch your sales crash."

If we assume that the first statement is true and an IE6 market share below 18%, the second is only true if your customers are made up of those major corporations, government departments or their employees who only shop at work.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that the average Joe is using his work computer to do all his online buying. Perhaps I'm wrong and I'm the only one who uses my "coffee break" time to browse and research at work and only buys at home. Hey maybe some people trust their employer enough to hand over their credit card info through a work computer but I ain't one of them. Heck, I wish there was a way to get paid without telling them my so-so security number.

Given the OS market trends I don't see IE6 clinging for much longer. I'll even play prognosticator and say that over the next two years a lot of development money will be spent migrating away from IE6. It's either that or run IE6 in virtual XP sandbox but that isn't going to remain a sustainable policy for long.

Finally, perhaps El Reg can shed some light on the rumor that Amazon is dropping IE6 support in some parts of their site.

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How much of a problem?

Although I am a long-term technical specialist, I'm (almost proudly) mostly web ignorant (I can use it well, but don't expect me to be able to write any HTML or XML without a tool - Hey, I'm a core UNIX specialist, not a web designer!)

Looking at it with the eye of a novice then (hand-grenade time, this is flame bait), what is the problem with IE6?

I know, I've read that it does not confirm to standards, it's HTML implementation is poor, and generally web designers bitch at it all the time, but from a users perspective, pages appear when asked and it works in places where firefox, Chrome, and Safari still don't (I run Windows 2000 Pro in Virtual Box, and IE6 under Wine, and also have Windows 2000 Pro in a little used partition on my laptop for those awkward sites that insist on IE as a browser, especially when they need Silverlight or WMP as a backend for media - must update to XP to allow IE7, it is licensed for that).

I don't want to buy Windows 7 for my laptop, which is still working, so I don't need to change it. And I'm sure that many people who are mostly infrequent users feel the same. Ubuntu does 98% of what I need on a 2GHz Pentium 4 mobile.

I would actually like to see web sites that are strictly bound to one browser, or which are so PC unfriendly by splattering large flash animations across their pages, or which require a 1280x1024 minimum screen to display, blacklisted by the community for a few days. As a Linux and Firefox/Chromium user on laptops with 1024x768 screens, this would be a far better protest as far as I am concerned.

What I am also appalled at is the attitude of Giorgio Sardo, who obviously has an agenda of selling Windows, and indirectly, new PC's. Microsoft should be forced by legislation to provide modern browsers on their legacy OS's all the time there is still a sizable number (say, greater than 25% of the whole) of systems still in common use!

If IE6 stops working, then I suspect that there will be an anguished cry from tens of thousands of users, and a sudden lack of space in the Electrical section of the local municipal dump, not a large number of people installing Firefox.

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IE6

The BIGGEST problem with IE6 is the awful CSS support - the JavaScript support is bad but any web-dev worth their salt should not rely on JavaScript in an e-commerce application anyway (the goal with e-commerce is to sell stuff with as few barriers to user-adoption as possible... e.g. it has to just work).

However, if you can't even rely on absolutely positioning divs (for instance) you could well have the kind of problems that force you into using tables for almost every kind of layout... which makes the site horrendous for blind people using screen readers.

Then it comes down to how much time, money and effort are you prepared to put into supporting an obsolete browser used by an ever shrinking minority? We're down to 5.5% of visits from people using IE6 now (and we've not got a technical customer base - think grannies) - more people visit our site using either Chrome or Safari than IE6 now... it's not quite reached the point where we can scrap support for it entirely but it's getting there... slowly.

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Linux

Upgrade your OS

to Ubuntu :)

No. stop hitting me ...aaargh...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Upgrade your OS

I would, if it didn't kill the battery stone dead within minutes. I think I'll stick with Windows 7 thanks...

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Silver badge

What's this guy smoking ? Corporate dope

""IE6 was a great browser,""

Since when has ANY browser been 'great' - fewer bugs, faster, etc. but great ? Must be a new meaning. It's a bit of software that's all

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Jobs Horns

Summing up...

Microsoft see "dropping IE6" as a revenue stream.

(By the way, can we drop the Bill Gates icons now? He's no longer active in the industry and it would free up a couple of slots for the other Steve.)

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Anonymous Coward

Easy Interim Answer for Corporations?

1. Block all internet use of IE6 and limit only for internal networks and local application use.

2. Install Firefox for internet use only.

Most users will understand the use of one tool for internal use and another for external sites.

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Anonymous Coward

Obviously you're not responsible for managing large numbers of desktops

Can't use Group Policy for managing Firefox. And how do you manage Plugins for thousands of desktops?

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FAIL

A bit short-sighted

Great, thanks for telling me. I shall dump IE6 immediately. Let's be conservative and just move up to IE7...

What? Not available for Windows 98?

Oh well, let's be brave and give this Firefox thingy a try, my daughter uses that....

That's not available for Win98 either? Deplorable!

And likely most of the others have abandoned pre-XP Windows as well by now. But I'll bet there are still plenty of folks (corporates included) still using them. Do something about the OS barrier, then we'll talk about browser upgrading.

(Note: The above is not a personal account. I ditched Win ME a whole 3 years ago.)

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Anonymous Coward

Why does it have to be IE9?

If they can't backport IE9 then why not just allow IE8 unlicensed? That would be a major improvement at least.

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Silver badge

Won't work

While there are large companies who won't change from IE6 this will never work. I was surprised recently to discover that one of my customers (a huge multinational company) is not only still using IE6 but they are also using old versions of Java, Acrobat, Flash, etc and only apply MS updates once a quarter. All in the name of stability and making sure nothing breaks.

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Yawn

Maybe that's ok for a consumer web application. Those of us writing web applications for the public sector know that schools/local authorities/govt departments just refuse to upgrade.

Take a stand and you'll have my admiration but I'll not be throwing away business. I'll just grit my teeth and keep charging for all those hours of extra testing and CSS-writing.

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Grenade

IE6 dies....

...and on that day, UK.gov gets mad.

IE7 was a joke, IE8 is still not really proven and IE9 is around the corner. If M$ did its job properly, we wouldn't need to still be on IE6.

And if the developers actually coded their products correctly, we could use their product in ANY browser and not be hog tied to IE.

If he wants to put a call out to the web development world ... it is this ... there are more browsers out there than bl**dy Internet Exploder ... so FOLLOW STANDARDS YOU D**KS.

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Standards

Yeah - oki I'll support XHTML1 with CSS2 - those are standards... what? CSS2 doesn't work properly in IE6? The browser is obsolete - you CAN'T code in anything resembling MODERN standards AND support IE6 - they're mutually exclusive.

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Anonymous Coward

That was my point

... if they coded correctly according to standards, we wouldn't be stuck using IE 6.

That's the whole point.

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Thumb Up

Umm

"IE6 is a great browser"

Best laugh I've had in weeks.

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Silver badge

My work "SiteKiosk"

Pointed out the the boss that YouTube works (sort of) but keeps displaying very large notices about how it is an outdated browser (it runs IE6) and how I should upgrade...

Boss's response? Nothing at all. But suspiciously the next day it was turned off and this was two weeks ago. I offered to install Ubuntu and Firefox onto a USB key to live-boot off that, but the response was, again, total silence. I wonder how much of my offer he actually understood, he who still uses OUTLOOK with the company's mail server. <sigh>

I guess it would be nice to be free of the mess that was IE6, but when you compare custom ActiveX applications that depend upon IE6 (and maybe cannot be easily/cheaply rewritten) plus the great tide of General Apathy... it's a losing battle.

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You know who hasn't abandoned Windows 98?

Hackers - that's who. Your Windows 98 computer is owned by them.

You know who has abandoned Windows 98? Microsoft. And I may be mistaken but I think they pupblicised one or more critical vulnerabilities just about the day it died. My overheated memory may have mixed this up with a genuine, but possibly different, case of, "Pictures can hack your browser. If you visit a web site using this maliciously designed file as an image, it will secretly break into your computer. Really."

Opera has had bugs like that, at least once, but they fixed it and updated. Having said that, if their latest version isn't for Windows 98, then who knows what holes in security are still in the last one that was.

Quite seriously, you're better to consider using some version of Linux for browsing with that computer. Or a remote desktop solution.

Mozilla may not be a dead option, because some old editions of Mozilla are still maintained and updated, not only 3.6. Or if not, well, it is open source, you can maintain your own version - in theory.

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