The Risks involved with using Internet Explorer 6 | Bang The Table
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The Risks involved with using Internet Explorer 6

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We at Bang the Table are constantly being confronted by the reality that while just 5% of visitor traffic is from people using IE6 most of them are from government agencies! Stuart Strathdee, Chief Security Advisor for Microsoft Australia explains here why it’s time to let go of the past and update to IE8.

Why are people still using Internet Explorer 6 (IE6)?

I’ve recently attended a number of the yearly Microsoft events (TechEd and APC in particular) and had many, many conversations with customers frustrated with their organisations continued use of IE6.

At Microsoft we would love for everyone to be using Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), but as was very clear from these meetings, that’s unlikely to happen in the near future.

Why are customers still using IE6?

As frustrating as it may be to have to work with IE6 there are some reasons why some businesses choose to continue to use it:

  • They may be using applications that rely on the behaviour of IE6 that has changed in IE8
  • The cost of deploying, testing and maintaining a new browser can be huge and requires a long period of planning
  • Some companies like the fact that social media tools such as Facebook and YouTube may not properly display or be accessed when viewed with IE6.

Is IE8 more standards compliant than IE6?

Yes.

In order to make sure, we’ve implemented CSS 2.1 properly and have submitted over seven thousand CSS 2.1 tests to the W3C.

Internet Explorer 8 passes more of the W3C CSS 2.1 test cases than any other browser.

You can find those tests and many more on the IE Test Centre here.

And as was recently discussed at the MIX developer conference, IE9 will continue our adoption of these standards.

Is IE8 the most compatible version of IE ?

  • Internet Explorer 8 by default uses the strictest, and most standards compliant rendering engine available, but some sites aren’t ready for that, and still expect previous IE7 behavior.

To provide developers with choice, they can specify which engine they’d like to use by applying an X-UA-Compatible switch that forces IE8 to use the IE8, IE7 or the Quirks mode rendering engine.  Thus IE8 is compatible with any site that has ever worked in Internet Explorer 7 or 8.

Wrap up

All in all, the most concerning trend that became apparent to me was that many customers have not tested IE7 or IE8; they just assumed that there would be problems.

I know from my work on many large customer sites that very few customers are actually unable to make an immediate switch from IE6, typically the compatibility mode takes care of minor issues.

The benefits of an improved user experience via features like tabs, better security with the Smart Screen filter and improved privacy with InPrivate browsing, significantly outweigh any disruption caused during the upgrade.

You absolutely must test IE8 prior to considering a deployment, but I’d urge anyone still running IE6 to put some time into this.

More IE8 Developer Information:

IE Developer Center on MSDN

IE on Channel 9

IE8 Readiness Tool Kit

What’s New In Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 Team Blog

Internet Explorer 8 Testing Center

Virtual PC Images For IE

A 3rd Party Comparison of Developer Tools

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