IE6, WordPress, and Dick Moves

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

For years, anti-IE6 sentiment on the internet has been rising – and justly so. It’s ten years old, and cares so little for standards that web developers often have to code for it specifically. Quite reasonably, they – we – are a bit fed up with that. Successive versions of Internet Explorer have become much better at standards support, and it would be great if every IE user would just upgrade to IE9 tomorrow.

But life isn’t like that, especially not in the world of corporate IT.

Particularly infuriating for those with no choice over their browser are the pop-ups that tell us to “upgrade our browser for the best experience”, or worse still, landing pages that flat-out deny access to anyone not using a modern browser. The IE6 users of the world agree with you! We don’t like the browser much either. But to rub our faces in it is kind of a dick move.


With version 3.2, WordPress is incorporating one of these “upgrade your browser” popups alongside an acknowledgement that their admin dashboard may no longer work. I’m sure the many corporate bloggers who have no choice but to use WordPress from IE6 won’t be too happy about that move, but even for the rest of us just trying to get to our site dashboard from work, it’s annoying. Much as we hate those popups, our own sites (at least, their admin areas) will now be displaying them.

WordPress’ announcement contains a handy sample e-mail to send to your boss or sysadmin:

Hi there. The computer I use at [where you use the computer] is equipped with an out-of-date web browser. Internet Explorer 6 was created 10 years ago, before modern web standards, and does not support modern web applications. More and more sites and applications are dropping support for IE6, including the new version of WordPress. Even Microsoft, the makers of IE6, are counting down until IE6 goes the way of the dinosaur (see for more information). Can you please install an updated version of IE or any modern browser (see for more information) on the available computers? Thank you very much.

I get the feeling that the WordPress team haven’t spent a lot of time behind the corporate firewall.

Luckily, my company has within the last year upgraded to IE8. But many others are not so lucky. From me a year ago, that sample e-mail would have had to look more like this:

Hi there. The computer I use at [where you use the computer] is equipped with an out-of-date web browser. […] Could the Ministry of Defence please spend tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money checking and vetting a new browser, so that I can access a couple of web apps that are by no stretch of the imagination business-critical? Could this browser then be added to the list of those allowed on our networks? To my own company, please could you spend a similar sum of money testing this software, deploying it to our PCs, checking our corporate software for compatibility, modifying it where necessary, purchasing newer versions of our core business tools, and dealing with users’ technical support calls over the following months? I’m sure this can all be happily afforded within our bounteous overheads. Thank you very much.

The corporate upgrade process is long and slow, and little can be done about that. We already hate IE6 – popup banners telling us that have to upgrade it to use your site don’t make us hate IE6 more, they make us hate your site more. Please, please, stop it.


Danfox Davies 05 July 2011

And I thought I had it interesting hacking Firefox 4 and 5 into my work pc while the It dept were too busy resurrecting a coincidentally dead user login server, which had turned out to have woefully poor, if any backup, to notice...

I'm not sure how much trouble having Firefox on this machine would get me into -- probably a lot. We don't have local admin rights to our machines, so it would be obvious that I'd abused my domain admin account to install it. I don't think I'd have that account much longer! :)

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