back to article Microsoft extends Internet Explorer 8 desktop lifeline to upgrade laggards

Don’t worry if you miss Microsoft’s January deadline to dump “legacy” versions of Windows and Internet Explorer. MS has a New Year's treat in store for you. Microsoft has quietly begun offering Custom Support Agreements (CSAs) to those running old combinations of its browser and client after January 12, 2016. The Register has …

Anonymous Coward

That's what happens when PHB gets involved, they end up making shit decisions which cost a fortune and you have to clean up the mess.

All those who banged on about standards compliance years ago please raise your hand.

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PHB 'involvement'

<quote>All those who banged on about standards compliance years ago please raise your hand.</quote>

You can include MY boss as one of those who should have their hands up.

This saga started around a decade ago, when she was the assistant CIO, getting 'ready' to take over as CIO with the announced departure of her then boss.

Those two could not be more different

HE was a BUSINESS major with some IT experience, and

SHE was an IT major with some business experience.

He ran the department like your typical MBA (mainly brainless asshole); she has run the department like any IT (intelligent thinking) pro would.

HE wanted to lock the company further in to the Microsoft ecosystem, while SHE wanted to insure that we would not ever be chained to the deck of the MS Titanic if it were ever to slip beneath the waves. HE wanted to 'insure' that his departure """left the company certain of its future""" while she wanted to insure that the """company had a future not dependent on Microsoft""". SHE bided her time, and got the CEO to hold off on replacing an aging bolted to Windows ERP system, with its latest and greatest version while we explored our options.

Over a period of 18 months (six months before his departure, and 12 after), we investigated alternatives. Several departments were used as guinea pigs for testing out potential replacements. A lot of people were "rubbed the wrong way" during that testing, and many executives never hesitated to complain like hell.

One of her requirements was that any 'solution' be web based, and be capable of being moved to alternatives to Windows Server. We would NOT be locked to a Microsoft only platform, and she got her wish. The experimentation was worth the effort as we now have a system in place that our employees actually like to use. All of that foresight came into play when tablets started to find their 'place' within the company, and some of her detractors started whinging that we 'missed the boat' on that one.

She asked the lead whinger for his tablet, and entered the (internal) url into its browser, and the login screen appeared. She told him to log in, and once he did so, the main screen of our ERP application appeared. His mouth just fell wide open. She reached over the table, grabbed his tie and yanked hin over toward her, and stared him in the face and said: "I think it's about time that you SHUT THE FUCK UP!" as she let go of his tie. Message delivered.

So, PHB 'involvement' isn't always a BAD THING(tm).

(PS - Hey ElReg, why doesn't HTML entities like &reg; work anymore???)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: PHB 'involvement'

HE was a BUSINESS major with some IT experience [...]

SHE was an IT major with some business experience.

They fight crime.

(Sorry, I just couldn't resist.)

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Re: PHB 'involvement'

With all you describe, I'd say that disqualifies her from the PHB ranks...

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Really...

"Microsoft negotiated a volume discount.."

There's the problem - the gubbinment should have been negotiating...

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Write your line of business apps to be browser based

And that means ANY standards compliant browser, not relying on extensions, custom DOM, etc. I could understand getting into this mess around ie6 time, very different landscape, but it's not like there hasn't been time...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Write your line of business apps to be browser based

I recently had to build a website for a major UK bank. And it had to work in IE6 because they're still using it in branches. IE8 is the least of my problems.

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Flame

Re: Write your line of business apps to be browser based

There may be some excuse having to stick with old versions of the OS, such as not being able to obtain drivers for old hardware which is still critical to the business. But there is no excuse for making your business applications reliant on particular version of IE, its a deliberate act of maleficence.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Write your line of business apps to be browser based

Browser based apps are good to "browse". As soon as you try to use them but for the simplest data entry soon they show how unusable, slow and fragile every web application is. And with browsers developers always chasing customers whims (music, video, etc.) due to BigG needs, and deprecating old standards as soon as they can (ah, HTML 4.1, so demodé, CSS1, no-no), while server-side languages like PHP still need to find a compass... even the best application will break soon. While OSes are usually far better at running old apps.

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Re: Write your line of business apps to be browser based

Indeed, AC, indeed. It's why writing open standard compliant programmes is a lot smarter than relying on proprietary extensions. Standards will have not just wider support, but importantly have clearer, better worn upgrade paths too.

Back in ie6 days, it's true that we didn't know how things would pan out, and proprietary programmes may have actually been more apt, but SOAP was new on the horizon, and bridged that gap :)

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Re: Write your line of business apps to be browser based

Well said, but in this day and age, it's cheaper to outsource such a project and call the result "development" or an "app" rather than to write (or pay for) a real progam that doesn't need a browser.

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NHS rather standard

though.

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WTF?

That doesn't make any sense?? 8/8.1 shipped with IE 11 - so they downgraded to 8???

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Is that even possible? It seems that someone might have got their version numbers muddled and it should have read Windows 7 with IE8. Which seems a more plausible combination for an upgrade-averse organisation.

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XP with IE8 is more plausible, since it's the highest version supported.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

If your legacy business apps only work on IE8

I would say that's an 'upgrade', not a 'downgrade'.

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Assuming it isn't a typo, it proves that IE isn't tied to the OS, which will please Microsoft's lawyers, even if the chimera is unlikely to please anyone else.

But ... er ... gosh ... are they doing it for a bet, or something?

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Actually 8 comes with IE10 and can't be upgraded to IE11, 8.1 comes with IE11. Fact remains though you can't do Windows 8 and IE8.

I'm guessing the article should say Windows 7 + IE8 since that was the shipped version of IE for windows 7.

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Er no.

Windows 8.0 has IE10 - I use it daily. 8.1 came with IE11 as standard. Not before.

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You can't blame Microsoft for accepting custom support agreements. If a customer is foolish/rich enough to pony up and the price covers Microsoft's costs, then why shouldn't Microsoft accept their money?

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Manpower retention might be part of that equation? You won't keep your best guys around for long if all they get to handle is IE8 bugfixes?

Or am I dreaming and no organisation that size actually gives a rat's ass about their staff's well-being? Well in that case chalk it up to loss of opportunity. Covering costs is not sufficient, any competent staff stuck maintaining legacy systems is not helping build the next shiny new thing.

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The irony of this deadline is that many who moved from Windows XP and running IE6 moved their browser at least to IE8, because it offered the path of least resistance in terms of re-writing applications and software portability.

Now, those who upgraded to IE8 must be shot of the browser no more than two years later.

This isn't irony. It's a punishment for those who are so short-sighted that they haven't correctly fixed their problems.

Not content with running a 13 year old OS, they were given plenty of notice that it was going EOL and did nothing. They then got a reprieve and an EOL extension, and so sat back on their hands and forgot about it until the next deadline 'whooshed' past them. And on. And on. And then MS offered them a lifeline with CSAs at (deliberately) exorbitant pricing, to try to train them re: the costs of this kind of short-sightedness.

And now they're having to do it all over again less than 2 years later. It isn't irony (unless you mean in an Alanis Morrisette kind of way) - it's karma.

Personally, i think it'd serve them all right if one time MS stuck to their guns instead of offering get-out after get-out through extensions and CSAs. To give a few years notice of EOL, and then stick to it. Rigidly. Make 'em squirm in the wind.

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Totally agree. There's no irony there. IE 8 added some extra CSS and JS support but was basically the same browser as IE 6.

If there is irony, it's in thinking that by switching to browser + Active X they were avoiding some kind of legacy lock in. Instead they created substandard UX with just the same kind of lock-in as if they'd stuck with a Windows-native client.

At the time Microsoft, ably aided and abetted by software manufacturers around the world, landed a fantastic marketing coup. And it guaranteed them over 50% market share until about 2010. Unfortunately, the fucking stupid idea of letting the browser run privileged code came back to bite them with a vengeance.

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"same kind of lock-in as if they'd stuck with a Windows-native client"

Actually if they had used a win32 client and stuck to the most simple and common API calls (and actually read MS' own guidelines about privileged use, etc) they would have far less of a problem.

I have several applications that were written for Windows a long time ago that just keep working, version after version. Often also working on Linux+WINE as well. Its the fancy new and/or undocumented stuff that bites your ass eventually, so just keep clear of the latest fad (how is Silverlight doing?) and use the common stuff and its not too bad.

Much more so if you force your developers to build & test on two different platforms/compilers always (even if both are "Windows" and "Visual Studio" but different releases) as that way they can't use the ephemeral stuff...

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If a company or government is stuck at a certain OS or IE level, then it is incompetence at their time. This especially true with the OS part as Microsoft standardizes on 10 years support [plus a bit of extra time but not much].

So if you have software that was specifically built for Win7 and you haven't started to prepare for Win7's demise in 4+ years then you are incompetent.

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Trollface

Also XP isn't quite dead yet

Probably more stuff runs XP than Win 10 as nearly all Win10 is on the Internet (it's broken otherwise) and some computer users and applications can't get, or don't want or must not have Internet. Meanwhile some people telling their XP Workstation and Win 2003 server that it's a POS terminal and getting Server 2003 and XP patches for free.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mage - Re: Also XP isn't quite dead yet

Add to this the fact that after more than one year of absolutely no support and no security patches, Windows XP has yet to become the victim of massive devastating attacks as predicted by all and sundry.

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Re: @Mage - Also XP isn't quite dead yet

a) Majority of XP systems not regularly patched anyway, so makes not much difference.

b) Many vulnerabilities are blocked by firewall/router

c) Most bad stuff is now from Internet, not shared disks, people click and install it. Or it can be mitigated by NoScript etc (Which I run on Linux as malware isn't the only issue it solves).

d) People with Win10 and 3rd party AV can be as easily infected if clueless and keep clicking on OK, installing toolbars, fake codecs, opening attachments, etc.

ActiveX in a browser. A stupid idea, in an ideal world who ever signed off that in MS should be in prison. Might as well send all kids past puberty to a brothel for every birthday party.

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Unhappy

I know what we'll be doing shortly after the Christmas break then...

...and no, it won't be "Upgrading everyone to IE11".

It'll be cleaning up the mess we inevitably get into after we're told that our web-apps still aren't compatible with any browser except IE8 and an "updated version" will be available in the new year. Like we were told in December 2014.

And 2013.

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Re: I know what we'll be doing shortly after the Christmas break then...

"This time will be different".

At least from where I'm standing there's a chance: IE 8 has dropped from 4 % in October to just over 1 % on the sites I can see which have a reasonably large corporate audience.

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going to be a headache for the NHS............a lot of stuff doesn't work with newer versions of IE

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IE11?

It seems to be a lot buggier than IE10 and any complaints fall on deaf ears at MS. A good example is "copy/paste". I'm not sure if it's browser or the various other bits and pieces we use. Copying from a doc and pasting into browser based email just isn't working for us. But, not my problem as we have staff higher up the pay grade than I trying to sort it out but the feedback indicates it's the browser.

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Purr

Only $1600 per seat? A deal at twice the price. Free is only worth it if you earn your money.

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Facing the music soon

I will be facing the music with Imbecile Explorer 11 soon as corporate IT announced we will be "upgraded" by the end of the year. I suspect there will much wailing and gnashing of teeth company wide when that happens.

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Anonymous Coward

Because....

Standards are your friend.

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Re: Because....

"Standards are your friend." If you are a company with a minority market postion.

Standards are a commercial weapon, used to lock people into and out of markets, and to split markets open.

For those of you without direct experience: remember, if you didn't pay to develop the standard, you are the product that is being bought and sold.

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Anonymous Coward

Every big company should have their own little software developer unit who will continusly modify their apps and slowly migrate them to newer browser/OS. But sometimes it is the developers who use the most ancient tools/OS possible.

However we may hope longer support time for IE11 as it is the last version of IE according to MS.

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Damned if they do.. damned if they don't.

Double edge sword, if MS state a deadline and don't stick to it people get complacent, if they do people get pissed off.

Problem with government, both locally and centrally, plus the NHS etc is that they know the deadlines are coming but staff on the ground cannot get the backing to make the changes well in advance due to it always being a problem for the next financial year. Then of course the government throws a wall of cash at MS who extend that deadline and local management punt the problem further down the road.

MS are a company after all, not a charity but the fact THEY hold the cards in this situation just speaks volumes about the attitude of government officials to them.

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But regardless of CSA's, Microsoft isn't supporting IE8 at the server side: more and more of microsoft.com is becoming unreadable (blank) in IE8

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