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back to article The legacy IE survivor's guide: Firefox, Chrome... more IE?

Windows XP and IE6 users will be thrown to the wolves on 9 April, 2014. That's when Microsoft finally – after more than a decade – stops releasing security updates for operating system and browser. Twelve years after it was released, IE6, Microsoft legacy web browser, refuses to die, with usage ranging from 0.2 per cent market …

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Anonymous Coward

Companies that have applications written in vb are in he same boat but without any of the options to ease the blow.

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IT Angle

When Windows XP is swept into the dustbin of computing history

Which will happen around 2035.

I predict a boon for antivirus software manufacturers - "We still protect your trusty Windows XP computer". 3rd party antivirus software manufacturers will take the place of Windows Update. For them, Windows XP will be a cash cow, a license to print money.

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> written in vb are in he same boat but without any of the options to ease the blow.

Assuming you mean VB6 then no, or at least not any time soon.

Win8 and 8.1 include the VB6 runtime, so that is supported—you applications will keep running—until at least those OS' go end of life (for Win8 enterprise currently set at 2023-10-01).

Of course if I business is still, in a decades time, running applications written what will be a more than 25 year old tool, then perhaps that business is itself so obsolete that it is time to switch off life support.

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Anonymous Coward

Which will happen around 2035.

Hmm sounds very close to the 32bit date eol. Two reasons to come out of retirement so close.

Must try to stay alive a bit longer.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Business

Now you know why the open-source community has been banging on about open standards.

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Re: Dear Business

You think they ever noticed the aforementioned banging-on? Unlikely.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Business

And why you should be worried that everyone wants to use webkit as their rendering engine...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Business

"Now you know why the open-source community has been banging on about open standards."

So instead of one fully supported product that you can maintain for at least a decade across the enterprise, you can have 20 different and slightly incompatible flavours of the same thing that only get supported for a few years at best - great!

Java would be a good example of the Open Source fail in action. .Net based solutions have had a massively lower cost of ownership....And several orders of magnitude fewer security vulnerabilities to worry about....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Business

'Java would be a good example of the Open Source fail in action.'

You do realize that Java (the base, reference version from Sun/Oracle that all others are measured against) isn't open source, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dear Business @AC09:12

What utter Bollocks ! Are you Channel sales doing a FUD ?

When you have the source code and 50,000 seats it's a lot bloody cheaper to apply your own fix than fork out fortunes for a whole new upgrade cycle - you can sweat the asset for longer.

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Re: Dear Business

Now you know why the open-source community has been banging on about open standards.

New product's Marketing team arrives with Glossy Brochure over Big Lunch. It can do everything - product sold.

Tech bods point out that it is full of non-standard components - told to implement what has been purchased.

For the parts that work, the purchasing team takes the plaudits.

For those that fail, the tech bods take the blame.

[It's the same, the whole world over....]

So I have no sympathy with any company caught up with Windows XP or IE6. They dug the hole - now see what the bottom of a hole looks like.

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Fair points

Good article. Nice to read something like this these days, without the "obligatory", but completely dilettante IE-bashing.

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Meh

Editorial suggestion

Please stop repeating snippets of the article in a bigger font halfway through. It's not a magazine page, you don't need to draw my attention.

"It's not a magazine page, you don't need to draw my attention"

I have already consciously clicked on the article and decided to read it, the repetition just interrupts flow.

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Headmaster

Re: Editorial suggestion

And how about occasionally checking an article for typo's?

Widow != Window for starters.

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Re: Editorial suggestion

> And how about occasionally checking an article for typo's?

El Reg channeling the Grauniad?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Editorial suggestion @ Trainee grumpy old ****

At least it's not the Daily Mail...

Oh my god browsers give you cancer, that dress doesn't suit chrome, IE and XP will be great again once we have the second coming of Oswald Mosely.

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Re: Editorial suggestion

Holiday brochure quoted by Gerard Hoffnung: "There is a French Widow in every bedroom!"

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Re: Editorial suggestion

"the apps should run on most browsers tanks to their use of standards-compliant rendering engines."

Rommel ?

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Anonymous Coward

Rose tinted spectacles

It is rather galling to read this rosy picture after several late nights battling to re-stabilise a web site's Javascript with the latest browsers. These all appear to be browser specific "bugs"(??).

IE10 has stopped supporting dynamic style "Clip rect(t,r,b,l)" without coord "px" suffixes - even in compatibility mode. However IE6 through IE9 are ok.

Chrome and Safari don't include a TABLE's border thickness in offtsetTop and offsetLeft calculations for its contents when walking an offsetParent chain. That appears to be a long-standing difference.

Chrome and Safari intermittently fail to position a dynamic Clip Div in the right position.

Chrome, Opera, and Safari won't force an existing window forward with focus.

FireFox now encodes a "\" in a filestore hierarchy for an online host URL - rather than treating it as an alternative to "/". It does not encode it for a local filestore.

It is better than the incompatibility problems round IE4 and Netscape 3 but not the convergence maturity that is expected.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rose tinted spectacles

"Chrome, Opera, and Safari won't force an existing window forward with focus."

I fail to see how this is a bad thing. Anyone who creates applications that steal focus deserves a kick in the taint.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rose tinted spectacles

"Anyone who creates applications that steal focus deserves a kick in the taint."

To clarify - a main browser window creates a new subsidiary window when the user clicks on a feature option - effectively a user click controlled pop-up ;like a HELP screen. This new window is automatically given the focus. The user is free to give focus to either window at any time - it does not have modal inhibitions. The new window is not stealing the focus - it has been given it in a controlled process.

Selecting the feature in the main window again should bring the subsidiary window back into the foreground f it had been obscured. On Chrome and Safari "opening" a window which already exists does not give it focus. It is wasteful to have the application close and re-open the subsidiary anew to give it focus. On IE and Firefox it works as expected.

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Re: Rose tinted spectacles

On IE and Firefox it works as expected.

Actually, on IE and Firefox it works as you wish it to. For a Chrome or Safari users it presumably does not work as expected.

Is there a documented standard that says what should happen?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rose tinted spectacles

"Actually, on IE and Firefox it works as you wish it to."

The main browser application executes the standard method on the subsidiary window which it "owns"

menuwindow.focus()

IE, Firefox, and Opera all react to bring the window into the foreground with focus. It would seem rather perverse if a window being given "focus" does not at least promote itself to before the application window that is its object "owner".

The Googled tutorials on W3C all agree that the method is supposed to give focus to the target window.

It is possible that the inhibition in Chrome and Safari is down to some "protection" mechanism - even though both windows' contents are in the same domain with html pages from different sub-directories. More debugging is required.

Opera actually acts slightly different from the other browsers in that the subsidiary window is created as a clipped child - which defeats the purpose of having a free-floating window for this menu.

It tires me that El Reg comment fora are too often sources of shallow knee-jerk criticisms rather than meaningful technical discussions. There is too much in IT these days for anyone to master the details of more than a small area - even without updates moving the goalposts. Time to cancel my subscription. Thanks for all the fish...

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Re: Rose tinted spectacles

> The Googled tutorials on W3C all agree that the method is supposed to give focus to the target window.

Then they are simplifications and/or out of date.

I suggest a reading of the specification of Window.focus() (and Window.blur()), especially the Note at the HTML5 specification. Direct link for the latest working draft: http://www.w3.org/html/wg/drafts/html/CR/editing.html#dom-window-focus.

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Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)

Dear Business Types (who aren't reading this anyway)

Every time a Microsoft type tells you that Microsoft products lower your TCO, just remember what happened when you tied all of your business-relevant code into a system that will not be supported after 7 years, like ActiveX and IE6. Oh well, it's somebody else's problem now, isn't it?

The first hit is always free.

Kind regards

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)

" just remember what happened when you tied all of your business-relevant code into a system that will not be supported after 7 years, like ActiveX and IE6"

Where do you get 7 years from?

IE6 based solutions have worked here without out issue and with vendor support for the last 12 years - and migration to IE8 and then Windows 7 was relatively easy - using the inbuilt compatibility modes, etc. Good luck doing that with an Open Source based platform and maintaining vendor support...That is much more a case of "the first hit is always free". Except for your time of course. and owning it afterwards. And fixing it when whatever Open Source package you are using goes out of support in a couple of years....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)

With Open Source YOU or your company's employees can support software directly with programming resources, or fund donation.

Unlike most proprietary software, where unless you are in a large corporate, your voice will generally go unheard (in my experience).

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Re: Total Cost Of Ownership (TCO)

IE6 based solutions have worked here without out issue

People around here used to give that excuse. Then other people started using iPads, iPhones, and Firefox......

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Silver badge

Re: Proofreading required

Along with

This fits into a picture of making Google working to make Chrome more enterprise-friendly

whatever that means.

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Re: Proofreading required

Means Google are trying to do exactly what Microsoft did 15 or so years ago... except behind the guise of "open standards"

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Meh

Re: Oh dear, dissing Google?

Get set for a downvote frenzy!

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Facepalm

Deadline mentality

"...it's just not possible to do everything at once..."

You could have planned for it some time in the last decade, but didn't.

You reap what you sow (which includes a failure to sow).

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Mushroom

bloat and waste

Checking the allocated memory of my machine, It seems that Firefox allocates over 170 MB, just to render this one single page. This is without counting the memory, used up by plug-ins.

So much for modern browsers. Quite a progress, isn't it?

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Creepy

"In other words, every security update Microsoft releases after April 2014 will serve as a blueprint for how to attack Windows XP. Windows XP won't necessarily be vulnerable to them all, but all it takes is one."

This is a freaking good point here, and also a very creepy one. This means every MS update will create a 100% chance case to work against XP.

Probably this is the only valid reason to update, actually.

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Re: Creepy

It's not actually a 100%. If the attack depends on things that changed since XP, it won't work on XP and you can breathe a sigh of relief. If the attack uses features and code common between XP and the later Windows, it will work on XP and the bad guys score.

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Irony

The real irony here is that all those IE6-only apps were the result of "Web developers" telling corporations that switching over to their web based products would save them the endless hassle of upgrading. Had they all stayed running the native Windows applications they'd been using previously, chances are they'd have found migrating away from XP much less of a hassle.

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Re: Irony

What bollocks. The real problem is that so many application developers are no longer around to build a Win7/Ubuntu/Mountain Lion version of something built over a decade ago. Most of the stuff that needs IE6 is NOT a standard web app as we now know it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Irony

This is true. Even if that isn't the case I doubt, given modern tools/design patterns there would be much difference in cost 'fixing' what you already have to completely re-doing the front end.

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Alert

X-UA-Compatible not a long-term solution

Microsoft are planning to withdraw compatibility modes from IE in future versions:

"Starting with IE11 Preview, document modes are deprecated and should no longer be used, except on a temporary basis. Make sure to update sites that rely on legacy features and document modes to reflect modern standards.

"If you must target a specific document mode so that your site functions while you rework it to support modern standards and features, be aware that you're using a transitional feature, one that may not be available in future versions."

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ie/bg182625(v=vs.85).aspx#docmode

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not over till the fat lady sings

IE6 is the default web browser with server 2003, server 2003 has support until July 2015 so IE6 will live on.

IE6 is also the default browser in XP embedded which has support until January 2016

Fortunately Embedded 2009 which is XP based uses IE7

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Re: not over till the fat lady sings

I have a website client still in IE6 because of Server 2003. A large Department of a mid-Atlantic state does not upgrade its servers very often. Even when new servers are bought, the new ones do the new stuff, while the old ones keep delivering the old stuff.

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CLD

Consider Security and Patch Management

One thing that does not get mentioned a lot when discussing changing browsers is patch management. As every browser is a portal into your network, this is something that should not be forgotten. Within a Windows environment I am a supporter of only using IE and leveraging the Windows Update / WSUS / SCCM solutions to not only update the browsers, but to keep them patched.

I don't want to get into individuals thoughts on the security viability of each browser (they all have their flaws and depending on whose reports you read, will depend on the security rating they are given). I would be keen to hear of any network wide solutions that people have used that can keep Firefox / Chrome patched on a corporate network. Also, what do people think about repackaging the products everytime Firefox / Chrome release a new version?

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new fangled IE6

I recently set up a win98 first edition vm to play an old school game and that thing came with like IE4 by default. Its javascript engine choked on virtually every web site out there so it made downloading a new browser a PITA. I think I finally settled on firefox 2 (last version for win98) and though its much better even it occasionally chokes on a few web sites lol.

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Not my apps to fix

So what do we do if we have something to support with a tiny market share and no more manufacturer's support? I'm thinking of a PLC vendor (who shall remain nameless) who appears to have gone out of their way to ensure the presence of IE6 as a condition of running their (proprietary) development web interface.

We've tried to port their app to a more advanced version of IE. No luck. Same thing with porting to Wine. This app actually goes looking for stuff (DLLs, etc.) that it doesn't appear to use. Just to make sure you are using their 'blessed' version of Windows/IE6.

Tearing the PLCs out looks like the only option. But that's going to be expensive from both a hardware point of view and the person hours (Have to say that. Some of our alpha geeks are female.) to port the ladder logic. We aren't even aware of the scope of the problem, as some of our customers don't discover this brand of hardware until something acts up and they open a control panel. That could take years.

The moral of this story: Never spec a PLC that doesn't have an open programming interface and multiple platform support. Even better, available source and a license to use/port as needed should the vendor drop support and/or go out of business.

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Anonymous Coward

We told you back in 2001, but your n00b devs thought they knew better

The ie6 is not standards compliant mantra was already the reason why we loathed ie4,5,5.5,6 back in the day ... building your mission critical app to run on ie6 was not bright and you deserve all you get.

One of our win devs created an algorithm so long she decided to print it out and hang it on the wall - Looking at it for a few secs, I saw very good copy-paste skills ... I asked her to look up what sub's are used for, to no avail. This was a MCSD!

Funny thing is I had to maintain that code after a few years, my code was 1/5 of the original length. Processing time also decreased substantially.

Win devs ? Our cleaning lady can do a better job.

Anon for obvious reasons.

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There's no excuse for IE6, I agree with that. So many alternatives. Windows XP? Meh, if it works, let it keep working. Fuck Microsoft's profit margin.

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