back to article Orange UK exiles Firefox from call centres

Yes, the corporate world is taking its sweet time upgrading from Microsoft's eight-year-old Internet Explorer 6, a patently insecure web browser that lacks even a tabbed interface. Take, for example, the mobile and broadband giant Orange UK. According to a support technician working in the company's Bristol call centre - who …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Sad Corporations

    We still use Windows 2000, IE6, Acrobat Reader 7 & Office 2000. Even the XP machines are only allowed IE6 as the Intranet was written for it and stops with anything else.

    We can't upgrade to XP because the smegging developers hard coded the software to W2K, wasters.

    But we are allowed Firefox.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    I'm still forced to use IE6 at work, and I work for the MoD. Whoop!

    Pretty much nothing works on the 'net, and rightly so, but they absolutely refuse to upgrade so we get some sort of functionality back.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    False economies.

    If it saves even fifteen seconds per call, they could afford a 250-quid rebuild every few months even at minimum wage rates. (back of an envelope figures: 15 secs per call, couple of hundred of them a day equals 50 minutes equals roughly a fiver of employee wage time per day 250 / 5 = 50 days to break even point). Since it's not remotely plausible that using firefox would cause a PC to break to the extent that it required a reinstall every couple of months, they'd be quids in if they just let their staff get on with their jobs in the way that they've found is best. It would easily save enough money to pay for a half-decent web dev to fix the IE-isms in their internal applications.

    As for the security issues, that's simple. There should be no external access whatsoever. The callcenter workstations should be able to browse the intralan and that's it.

  4. SynnerCal
    Paris Hilton

    Orange are Yellow

    So let me get this right - not only don't Orange management want their tech's to be as efficient as possible, but also there seems to be no way to lobby the internal IT department to get the standard build updated with a more modern/supportable browser. Sheesh - talk about living in the dark ages!

    Meanwhile, they (the PHB's) are busy recommending that their customers use a browser version that's two major steps ahead of what the poor call centre folks are using. So am I the only person who thinks that doing this is (a) bloody stupid; and (b) could cause problems if Mr/Ms Public phones up looking for an assist with a problem getting their wizzy new IE8 install working.

    Just when I thought _my_ management were the most clueless, along comes Orange to prove me wrong...

    (PH icon because even she would think the Orange PHB's dumb)

  5. James O'Brien

    Oh I Cant wait

    The comments here should be good. Im staying tuned to this one and kicking back with some beer and popcorn.

    /FAIL because thats what these companies who insist on using IE6 are doing and will continue to wonder why they keep losing customer information.

  6. Simon Westerby 1

    Poor old orange ....

    FireFox + IETab and IE 6 = Better life for Call centre staff + NO problems for Orange...

    Will the big corps never learm.

  7. jezza 1

    us too oO

    Cisco are still on IE6, yay!

    At least our IT dont care what we install so FF is widely used. scarily we have internal apps that crash and burn on anything but IE6.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    The solution is simple

    Just run a portable version of FireFox or Opera from a usb stick and should the machine crash, there will be no trace of either program ever havig been on it.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    We tried to upgrade

    I'm an exec at Orange, and when we called Microsoft to ask them if it was safe to use Fire Fox or whatever you call it, they said NO not under any circumstances was it safe. So don't get angry at management, we tried. Gotta run, time for golf!

  10. Anonymous Coward

    WTF IE6?

    Portable firefox on a pen drive,no install needed hence no £250 reinstall

  11. Steve Evans


    As much as I like Firefox, I find the idea that call centre staff would even have enough power to install a new application of any sort onto a PC rather worrying!

    Surely call centre droids should have an account that is locked down so tight they should count themselves lucky if they can toggle the caps-lock light!

  12. probedb

    Same here

    We still use IE6 as the corporate browser with random dottings of IE7. No sign of IE8.

    What's worse is we have to support it for our users.....makes being on the web team somewhat annoying.

  13. NogginTheNog

    @ "False Economies" by AC

    "As for the security issues, that's simple. There should be no external access whatsoever. The callcenter workstations should be able to browse the intralan and that's it."

    You obviously have little experience of modern businesses, where many 'internal' services are often provided via partner third-parties using Internet/browser-hosted apps. Of course any decent sized company will provide a filtered and firewalled Internet access to the desktops, but external access it will still need to be.

  14. Colin 21

    Release Candidate?

    "And Firefox 3.5 is now on its first release candidate."

    It's not just Orange that needs to get up to date!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    State of the Industry.

    Its not just orange. BT still use IE6. Rabidly.

  16. Doozerboy

    Par for the course in the corporate world.....

    IE6 at my workplace too, with no plans to upgrade. All USB stick use is banned as well which rules Portable Firefox out. I've pleaded and pleaded to have firefox and firebug installed on my machine, but to deaf ears. Debugging Javascript is a real joy on our setup.

    What i find disturbing is not that the employees actually managed to install Firefox, but that that application appears to be automatically granted internet access. I though our IT department were bad.......

  17. Alistair Wall

    Plug in

    Aren't there any plugins for IE to emulate Firefox?

  18. Dan Herd


    The NHS still use IE6 as well. Probably because the 'developers' who built their shiny 'new' IT system hard-wired everything to it.

    Makes my job as a developer of web apps that are sold to the NHS a big fat PITA.

  19. Richard M 1


    I know which company I'll be going to for my next mobile contract and it won't be Orange.

  20. Oddbod

    IE5 here

    Yes, you read that right. My place (large law firm) still has about a dozen users using IE5 and most are on IE6. IE7? A few. IE8? Fewer. It's not the developers' fault (our stuff is sane), it's because some of the departments buy their own god-awful web software that hasn't been updated since 2004. It works on nothing except IE, and doesn't even work right in IE8.

    On the plus side, nobody's bothered about my Opera use, and Firefox is available if you ask.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Do they use SAP?

    SAP compatibility is the excuse I always hear, but i've never been bothered to dig into the truth of it.

    My org is still on IE6 and has the blocks to stop user installation of later versions too. But, we can install Firefox (heck installing games is / at least was allowed).

    If you do install a later version of IE (handy that the MSDN versions ignore the blocks...) security updates and patches magically appear down the usual software upgrade pipe. In that sense I think our IT guys are smarter than the average bears.

  22. Justin Smith 1

    I have two words for the IE6 afflicted

    "PortableApps Firefox"

  23. Stuart Duel

    Dumb and dumber

    So rather than spend a penny to save a dime, Orange has decided to spend a dime to waste 9 pennies.

    Unfortunately, it is the same at my work - only IE6 is permitted which lacks modern features such as tabbed browsing, security and compatibility with more and more of the net. Try looking at the Adobe site using IE6.

    We also have a multitude of browser based applications, which would be much more efficient spread over just a few windows each with multiple tabs. Instead, you spend an inordinate amount of time hunting for the window you need, re-launching IE6 and every web-app because it crashes and takes it all down and then having to lie to the customer about why everything takes so bloody long. Telling the customer the truth that it's an incompetent, ignorant IT department/management that is the problem doesn't seem to go down very well with Dear Leaders.

  24. Pete 8

    I prefer

    Netscape 2.0

  25. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Hotline != Techies

    Corporate network admins like IE because they can easily implement corporate wide policies on it. Everyone knows IE 6 is a crap browser but *they* think they know (they might actually know for all I know) how to lock it down and an awful lot of money was spent on developing systems to work specifically with it. Like it or not that can add up to a lot of money if it all needs updating. As fro Firefox versus IE - that's a not non-starter when it comes to resources as Firefox is just as much as a resource hog as IE. Opera on the other hand really does perform better on older, slower machines.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    I worked at 'Redmond' for a while

    And even they want IE6 to die. I worked in the security division, most of my time was spent making patches for the browser (especially holes that were fixed in IE7), the rest was to secure parts of the OS, only to have my patches rejected, because some partner needs the hole for their application to work, rather than spend a few minutes to use a different function / API / Etc. or even comply with the basic security guidelines that MS publishes.

    Devs always assuming the user has Admin rights, assuming that Java and Flash were installed, and that certain ports were always open, even though they are only accessing the Local machine (that is what WMI is for, idiots). And why can't they make software that properly respects UAC.

    There have been so many times that I wanted to strangle the Developers at "mud hut" software and "Star" for requiring that we leave certain hooks in the code so their software can access some of the Windows APIs, even though there are already APIs for it that don't require going through the browser or even admin rights.... Or that they require Admin rights so that they can integrate their shitty updaters into the Startup sequence of Windows

    My team did have proof-of-concept copy of Windows that we re-compiled from the ground-up, only the kernel and a few core services ran with admin privileges, and on only what they needed to access. All unsigned code was prohibited from running with anything higher than the current user's access level, and signed code only ran with the permissions it required. We were able to run nearly all of our Applications (the others were re-coded to comply with the security guidelines, ran flawlessly after that)

    Ah well, such is my life...

    AC, since I have NDAs with the companies....

  27. Anonymous Coward

    We are just getting round to moving off IE6

    Which means I'll get most of my start bar back, but it's taken a long while.

    Shame I've been using Firefox for a few months, bang in the proxies and I'm working a darn sight quicker than I can in IE6.

    No back to the future icon?

  28. David Simpson 1

    Waste money

    This is called not wasting money, why pay to have a different support plan, then they have a legal responsibility to re-train their staff and they also have to re-test all home built web apps/intra-net for firefox and for what ?

    I use Firefox and love it but really in a call center ? Telling staff not to download and install apps from the internet (Firefox or otherwise) is GOOD security advice, IT departments plug hole in IE 6 themselves this is yet another blog-style unresearched story.

    The Register should be better than this.....

  29. AndrewG

    Two issues here

    The first one is if Orange shouldn't be moving their browser version forward a little..obviously yes.

    The other one is if a Enterprise with a standard build should be allowing users to install any dammed thing they please that they download from the internet just becasue they want to...NO!

    I've done desktop support in an enterprise and that experience has shown me that the two things you find on a problem PC 90% of the time are a different browser and google toolbar - its not the users PC, if they can't respect the build what makes you think their going to respect things like data privicy? Don't fine them, sack them

  30. Death Boffin

    IE6 only

    The US Navy NMCI system is also stuck with IE6 as the leading technology. They have also mandated no other browsers. Of course it took them a long time to transition from sail power as well.

  31. ZilogZ80

    IE tab add on

    I had the same problem with many of the web apps I had to use only working with IE. I installed the IE Tab add on for Firefox so I get a tabbed interface and IE runs in a tab when needed.

  32. Anonymous Coward

    Shot of reality

    While I would agree that moving to modern software would be faster, more productive, etc., it is ultimately the company's choice. If the company is paying its employees to do a job and have clearly spelled out the way that they need to do it, then really what is the issue here?

    There are more reasons to a policy then hey, let's piss off its work force. The employees do have a choice, they can choose to be paid, or not.

    The policies laid out are not that unusual in a large corporate environments. Let's put the nerd hat on and destroy a quote from Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Stop the complaining, get back to work, and help your employer make some money.

    Don't me Dennis Miller. :)

  33. passionate indifference

    taking umbrage at Michael 2

    I don't think Cade Metz here is trying to IE-Versus-Mozilla on us, it seems more to do with the old corporate line of "better the devil you know". FWIW, we went up to IE7, and there was the usual bleatings of "internal apps don't work" but that only lasted a few months whilst bugs were shot.

    I imagine here Orange may not have properly tested/certified their CSS app with IE7 (or indeed with Firefox) so are a bit worried about the unknown dangers in other browsers (rather than the known dangers in IE6?). Perhaps their CSS vendor should be more proactive in certifying more recent and more secure browsers?

    Let's all go back to writing apps in Visual Basic 4 on NT4 and SQL Server and having the software update itself from a central server every morning :D Who needs workflow management, BPM solutions and realtime data availability when you've got the Step-By-Step Wizard, a bloody huge batch/ETL service and the standard "you'll see the updates tomorrow" rubrick?

  34. Magilla
    Gates Horns

    Here's a different idea

    If they have access to the USB ports, they could run Firefox or Opera from U3 - no installation required, and leaves basically no traces.

  35. Tea-800
    Paris Hilton

    @Alistair Wall

    You can download it at

    I for one couldn't tell the difference!

    Paris, 'cos, well...She's kind of an orangey colour.

  36. zonky

    I would hope...

    they can't attach USB keys, much less execute programs on them....

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    since when were companies allowed to fine their staff?

    someone should have told me ages ago! 5 quid everytime I catch someone surfing facebook is a lot more fun than just blocking it ;-)

  38. Olivier 1

    What are they paid for?

    Hey, this is a call center. The guys are supposed to use the application provided by orange and service customers.

    They want firefox because they like browsing for personal purpose at the same time. If employees think they would be more productive with enhanced tools, they can argue about it, but they are not allowed to choose themselves what they believe suits them best.

    It is perfectly acceptable for a company to have restrictions on the usage of its stuff I think.

    Look at other jobs: you are not allowed to tinker your bus if you're a bus driver, you can't hack yourself your IRM scanner when you work at the hospital, you can't "customize" the lifts at your company, even if they are slow.

    All this remembers me the "Y2K" projects where the whole IT industry deemed it legitimate to make the customer pay for faulty design. You have to accept that IT software as well as hardware is an investment and it is legimitate for a company to get value from it as long as possible. The "constant upgrade" mantra is just plain robbery.

  39. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Written for IE6

    Written for IE6 - says it all really.

    If the half-baked neandethal so called developers had even a smallest hint of a clue they'd know to write using standards compliant systems. Instead they dismissed the occasional collision of braincells and just went the MS route which is to break standard web interfaces as much as possible and rely on closed, non-standard, insecure and hugely inconvenient coding and web application methods. Nothing wrong with <A>, but many morons (MS driven) seem to have no concept that a website is different to a local application and instead attack post back JScript events for navigation instead. Almost as bad as the muppets who use flash to create menus in websites.

    Of course, if there's anything such as a real reason to code to standards - this kind of epic mess is it.

  40. Iggle Piggle

    USB drive?

    Almost all the corporations I've worked for use IE6 as standard (although none has yet told me that I cannot install Firefox). It sounds like Orange has developed a series of Intranet tools to handle customer requests and complaints in which case targetting a specific browser seems perfectly legitimate.

    Those who have suggested using FF from a USB drive may be forgetting that USB devices may not be allowed or possible (although strange that downloading from the Internet is possible then). Additionally you are forgetting that logs on the server may well tell the support guy exactly what user agent was in use at the time of the crash so you won't necessarily get away with it.

  41. Ben 15

    rebuild costs?

    £250 to rebuild a desktop? WTF they're doing it wrong...

    In an environment where every machine is standardised how can it cost them that much to redeploy a machine?

    Also if you dont want users installing software DONT GIVE THEM ADMIN RIGHTS! simple

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    insurance as well

    Norwich Union (now Aviva) also use IE6 on all there machines, even if it's full of holes.

    The IT dept there are stuck in the stone ages anyway.

  43. James Marten


    It's not just corporations that can't move on from IE6. My SO won't even consider moving on because of the IE7 user interface; unfortunately my efforts to point out that the browser is more than just the UI and IE6 has more security holes that the proverbial Swiss cheese are pointless. Paradoxically, Firefox's UI is more similar to IE6 than IE7, but she still won't consider FF because "I can't get used to it".

    IE6 + Internet = computer suicide (even with antivirus, antispyware, antiadware, linkscanner, firewall and all the rest).

    Fortunately my own computer doesn't have this problem, as the icon shows.

  44. iamapizza

    Let me fix that for you

    >IE6 is still used by 18.5 per cent of all net surfers

    You must mean "IE6 is still used by 18.5 per cent of all net sufferers"

  45. Chris Beach

    Security Reasons

    Some of the web dev guys here wanted FF or IE8 but were told they couldn't have it due to 'security concerns' All we can possibly think is that with IE6 they can and have locked down the internet options (all of them, but specifcally the proxy). And they are worried that having a different browser would allow us to bypass said proxy.

  46. JBR

    US spelling

    In the guff on the Orange website "get to your favorite pages easier"

    Orange = UK website, so why are they using US spelling. Unless the copy/pasted an email for some large US firm that would be involved in marketing IE8...hmmm...

    And how is it optimised for Orange? (notice the lack of the zed) Unless the Orange website ain't standards compliant FF, Safari, Chrome et al should all be perfectly good

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My lot have only ditched IE6 6 months ago

    largely due to lots of horrid custom apps and plugins that weren't going to work if you tried them with any other browser. These still don't work with anything other than IE7 mind you, nor will they play nicely with tabs anyway: having more than two open pretty much guarantees you're on the fast track to a hard reboot sometime in the next hour....

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hah, and when I rang them to ask why I keep getting "Excessive use" letters over transfer in double figures on my "Unlimited" connection and they didn't know, I thought it was just the call center guy who was worthless. I guess the incompetance runs way deeper than that.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My shame...

    I'm one of many corporate drones stuck here using IE6 who isn't allowed to install anything else.

    Every so often it sits there trying to download a page and you think the net is down, and then you realise that it's just the browser hanging... again.

    Restart and you're off again - eventually.

    Appalling nonsense.

  51. N2

    Dranconian management threats

    I agree that yes, company computers are not some throw away toy to install whatever you like on & blame the techies when it goes wrong, but for the management to stick with IE 6 is ludicrous, specially in these times.

    And how much do the management (thats 'management' in the broadest sense possible) get fined for every exploit that IE 6 allows in?

    The sad bunch of tossers threatening their staff.

  52. Dave Bell

    The other other angle.

    I'm not an Orange customer.

    So can somebody tell me who pays for a call to their call-centre. Does a slower response from staff, due to old software, cost them money, or is the customer paying?

    I've seen some pretty crap corporate IT. Some outfits have computers running with UK keyboards and US keyboard drivers, nice and safely locked at Admin level. There's very good reasons to stop staff installing software, but running this ancient software is just stupid.

    And, with this recession thing, money is going to be tight for a while. Not replacing IE6 will look like it saves money, until something goes wrong. If a company has intranet applications which still depend on IE6, it's possible that they don't have any long-term IT maintenance plan.

    This isn't like the non-adoption of Vista.

    Do we get a BofH story out of this?

  53. JohnG

    Standard Software Build/Image

    I'd be surprised if anyone here isn't familiar with the concept of a standard software build for desktops (or notebooks). Management tend to view these issues in terms of projects and a project to create, test and rollout a new standard build typically take ages and costs a lot of money. Hence management's reluctance to change. They take the view "if it works, don't fix it" - but of course, this doesn't take account of changing security threats, new hardware, etc.

    In my experience, there are two cases that prompt a move to upgrade: the hardware build for which the standard software build was developed is no longer available and the new hardware doesn't work with the standard software build. The other issue is when documents arrive from other organisations which the standard software cannot read (Acrobat, Word, Excel, etc.).

    There is another case that prompts upgrades - that's when the big boss can't access his online banking or stockbrokers because the standard build of Java isn't supported. He then gets a special build which then spreads through senior management through "me too" demands/bullying.

    Of course, by the time the project to create, test and rollout a new standard build is completed, a couple of years have passed and everything is out of date again :-) Still, it keeps a lot of people in work.

  54. Ben Rosenthal

    good and bad here

    I agree that Firefox is no good in a corporate environment (not enough remote update and admin features), but IE6 FFS?

    My call centre uses whatever I install for them, because they don't have a choice.

    Firefox at home (or on my own work machine because I can), IE for the workstations that need to be kept right up to date for PCI compliance.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IE6 here too.

    My workplace (15,000+ staff worldwide) is still on IE6. Staff have been installing/using firefox, presumably some version that could be run without admin rights since this is locked down, perhaps on USB sticks which seem to operate without restriction.

    The motivation for this was because this somehow got around the corporate blocklist and allowed access to facebook, ebay, youtube etc., which couldn't be done on IE6. A stern staff memo was circulated recently warning this was against the rules, which probably just increased people's awareness of this tactic.

    I wonder if the situation is the same at Orange, with evasion of browser-specific blocklists being the motivation for people using FF?

  56. Greg J Preece


    Step one: install IETab.

    There is no step two.

  57. Alan Bourke

    Ah, web apps.

    Remind me again how traditional fat client apps are terrible and so last century and why everything running in the browser is so super-fantastic.


  58. Anonymous Coward


    I would imagine IE6 is used instead of firefox as it can be locked down with GP to disable scripts/JS etc, also the USB ports should be blocked - you don't want call centre chimps with any morer rights than that. Users shouldn't be given installation rights, so installing FF shows the Windows team suck. This chap in Orange obviously wants to have el Reg open in a tab so he can hide it when his boss comes round without the lag in swapping IE6 windows :)

    I would also think that JS and dscripts would be disabled on IE6 by GP

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    posting anonymously because...

    I worked with orange and this article is irrelevant, you have a very slim chance of getting through to a UK call centre until you have already had New Dehli operatives fail on you three times. Not that I blame them, they're being paid high wage to follow a script so they'll be damned if they won't, even if that means the customer comes second. But that is Orange's service, everything is just cut costs, cut costs, and a lot is false economy. They'll often fly in the face of common sense and seem to think everyone in the world is a complete idiot when it comes to computing. The £250 fine is probably just a figure they made up, because they'd consider anyone stupid and gullible. They'll talk rubbish whether you're an employee, customer field engineer, or the guy who lead MS developement of mysql for a long period of time (oho that was an interesting affair) They are a very cheap isp however, and you do get what you pay for..

    As for the guy with the SO on exploder 6, explain adblock, if you block all those bloated animated ads page load will increase drastically. The difference between adblock and any other browser on say.. an advert heavy web 2.0 site is the difference between pouring a cup of water and boiling, stewing, stirring and adding milk to tea. Literally. She must be really stubborn if you can't win her round. The moment I found tabbed browsing ie6 started to *hurt* when I used it.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work for one of Orange's suppliers...

    ... and none of this surprises me in the slightest.

    I came to the conclusion that the only competent people there must be in network ops, as otherwise none of their customers would ever be able to make a single call.

  61. Gavin M

    Think that's bad?

    Bank of Ireland were using IE 5.5 internally until 6 months ago. Might still be for all I know...

    I fail to see how all these corporations have managed to build web-based systems which are so reliant on a specific browser? Our internal system has well over 2,000 users on IE6, 7 or 8 and Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and a host of others. We've never had any issues...

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Installing software

    If the staff at Orange are able to install stuff on their boxes, then they've got bigger security issues than IE6.

  63. Anonymous Coward

    Entrenched IT staff.

    Sack the IT staff altogether. A migration to a newer, _safer_, faster browser should have been planned and executed already. Years ago.

    No surprise that stories like this one come from big & lazy companies, with great aversion to any change.

  64. Greg J Preece

    Where I work, IE6 is banned!

    We hate it. We hate it so fucking much. If you're running anything less than IE8 or Firefox, you won't be for long.

  65. Anonymous Coward

    @Pete 8

    If you want security, use WebExplorer 1.1

    or Charlotte of course, but the hardware requirements for that may be a bit beyond most people.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    Not the only telco in the dark ages

    I work at Optus in oz, our 2nd biggest Telco, and we're also using IE6.

    Solutions using USB sticks strictly frowned upon (of course).

  67. Cod
    Big Brother

    Do as I say, not as I do...

    "But in the call centre, it's IE6, all the time."

    Isn't that kind of the way these corporate things go? External web presence ("optimised" for IE8, Chrome, Firefox) is always going to be several releases ahead of the internal systems infrastructure (IE6) so no big shakes there.

    As has just been stated, users installing as sorts of cr*p from the web contribute to their own problems and making it the responsibility of the user to ensure their system is as 'clean' as it can be is right and proper.

    Now where did I put that MS patch that kamikazed all my desktops....

    Big Brother cos we're all being watched by someone.

  68. Doug Glass

    WhY Are There Questions?

    The decision to stay with IE6 is almost universally a non IT one. In other words, the ill informed, ill educated, highly [over]paid corporate suits who still print all their emails for later reading are in charge and making the decisions.

    And it's not likely to change any time soon.

  69. James Hughes 1

    Don't use the word 'fine'

    Only the government has the 'permission ' to fine people in the UK.

    Orange <> Government

    They can of course claim back the money required to 'fix; the system, but I would imagine that has to be reasonable.

    See recent news items on wheel clamping for more information!

  70. myxiplx

    Christ, no way I'm using Orange

    If their IT guys don't even have the sense to lock down the call center machines (which are about as standardised as you can get), nor to update them beyond IE6.

    If the users have enough internet access and privileges to download and install Firefox, just think how many viruses and keyloggers are on that network, harvesting all of our details.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @since when were companies allowed to fine their staff?

    They can't, it's illegal... unless for some bizarre reason they have signed away their right to be paid...

    Under section 13 of The Employment Rights Act 1996, the only circumstances in which salary/wages deductions are permitted in law are where:-

    *They are provided for in the contract of employment

    *The employee agrees to the deduction in writing

    *They are required by statute (e.g. tax & national insurance)

    *To recover previous salary overpayments

    *The employee has participated in strike action

    *In consequence of disciplinary proceedings where those holding the proceedings have the power to order deductions under statute

    *To discharge a court order/tribunal judgement where written consent is provided by the employee

    *In retail work, where a cash shortage or stock deficiency comes to light within 12 months of it arising (and the first deduction is made within that 12 months), it is permissible to deduct up to 10% of the employees gross salary so long as it is not the employee’s final salary.

    *To pay third party’s specified amounts where written consent has been provided by the employee.

  72. Giles Jones Gold badge

    I'd pay £250

    I'd sooner pay £250 than use IE6.

  73. Anonymous Coward

    IE6 here too

    We are still running IE6 here and it aint that bad really. We are just starting to roll out IE7 (got mine yesterday) and I've already requested to go back to IE6 and to reinstall FF too. God knows what we've done to it, but 7 is just unbelievably unstable and is crashing constantly - those wonderful dialogue boxes of "IE has a problem and needs to close". Its just completely painful.

    I like Firefox as it just plain works. Doesn't mess me about and has a sensible UI.

  74. Peter Davison

    This should get them upgrading

    The companies should pay their employees an extra couple of grand per month just for the inconvenience of dealing with older web browsers.

    It would be cheaper to rewrite the applications (properly this time) and get training.

  75. IE h8er

    Orange website irony

    I see on the Orange website they now offer a link to download IE8 !

    Physician heal thyself, perhaps.....

  76. Anonymous Coward

    Can any developer reading this post

    Kindly take out and shoot any co-worker who has ever developed a web interface that is browser dependant. They need removing from the gene pool. You can do amazingly good interfaces useing standard HTML that doesn't even require Java Script.

    You have NO EXCUSES.

  77. Jacqui Smith's DVD Collection!

    Ask call centre staff

    Next time you speak to anyone in a call centre ask which browser they use and email El Reg, we should name and shame!

    I certainly will not be trusting Orange with my personal data.

  78. Matt "Anonymous"
    Thumb Down

    Sounds about right for Orange

    Having worked in an Orange shop for a few years (thankfully no longer), I can safely say this is par for the course for orange. IE6 only in the shops too, and an awful, locked-down version of XP which literally struggles to run anything properly (it was only about a year ago that the back office computers lost Windows 2000 in favour of xp).

    What particularly irritated me is that everything is done with Excel. I don't know why I should be irritated by this - it's just that it strikes me as odd that such a huge multinational company is using a simple spreadsheet, rather than coding a bespoke solution. And the till software, written in very buggy Java which frequently falls flat on its face. Sigh, don't get me started.

    Anyway, back on topic, @Oliver Jones - you're right. They shouldn't allow staff to install software. Instead, they should fix their bloody websites and install firefox by default. Orange fail!

  79. Herby

    Ah... Revenge of the PHB's

    Why isn't there an icon for PHB's. This would be quite proper for this type of story, and its comments.

    What we need is an "inside" story, published over at !

  80. Anonymous Coward

    We at Sky feel your pain

    I work at one of Sky's contact centres doing broadband & phone tech support. Our systems are a mixture of some absolutely horrific Java apps (clearly designed by a sadist) that are down all the time, and numerous web-based apps that are down all the time. Many of those are also horribly designed too, but since a lot of them are 3rd party apps I guess I can't blame Sky entirely for that.

    But nevertheless, Sky still insist on using IE6 on ancient Pentium 4 workstations with 1 gig of RAM (unless you're a team leader, then you get a nice new PC so you can have, um, word, excel AND outlook open). This means we have about half a dozen IE6 windows open for all the web based systems we need, plus the Java ones... having to switch back and forth to copy and paste info etc etc. The hardware isn't good enough to handle it smoothly, not to mention that it's a completely infuriating and inefficient way to work.

    For a company so hell-bent on reducing call handling/waiting time, they are missing one of the biggest factors. If any of you are being migrated to Sky's new all-signing all-dancing phone network, I really hope you don't have any faults that you need to report as you will be on the phone for a very, very, very long time as we painstakingly gather all of the information we need to report your issue.

    The best solution would be to integrate as much of it as possible into a single interface, but I would settle for a tabbed browser, preferably Chrome.

  81. dirtmonkey
    Thumb Up

    Hang on? £250 fine?

    So who actually pays the £250? It surely can't come out of the employees pocket? so it must billed to the department? either way I like it! The local pub would love the extra revenue from the IT Dept.

    As a desktop engineer for local government I see so many desktops with so much crap on! I could get revenge on the b****ds on the traffic enforcement department too!!

    Bring it on!

  82. Anonymous Coward

    £250 fine legal? Hummm

    I'm pretty sure companies are legally not allowed to "fine" their employees, or even to threaten them with fines!

    the worst they are allowed to do is follow diciplinary procedings which must be proportional to the infringement.

    Any HR law experts out there?

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The NHS is not limited to IE6!

    "The NHS still use IE6 as well. Probably because the 'developers' who built their shiny 'new' IT system hard-wired everything to it.

    Makes my job as a developer of web apps that are sold to the NHS a big fat PITA."

    No, the NHS does not use IE6 exclusively. The NHS is not really one large organisation. It would be more accurate to think of it as a franchise with every branch (trust) publicly funded. The trust that your trying to sell to might only use IE6, but this does not apply to other trusts, or the rest of the network.

    As a former NHS IT bod i'm fairly confident this is the case, especially as I was using IE7 & FF2 at the time!

  84. Anonymous Coward

    Missing the obvious much?

    The real story here is that Orange has a UK call centre. I'm guessing that low-wage-economy workers don't give a shit what browser they use, so the British call centre operators need to shut the fuck up lest Orange move their call centre to a more compliant territory.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'll be reading this article from my IE6 browser at work.

    AC for obvious reason.

  86. bobbles31

    I'm with Orange on this one....

    Complaining that a company doesn't want their employees fucking up their desktops for them is a tad obtuse if you ask me. This is a complete non story, Orange are entitled to run whatever set of software they like. You may as well use the headline...Call Centre Staff Forced to Run Windows and banned from downloading Linux.

    As it happens though, I am no fan of orange, I was once required to work with them to interface with their systems and there idea of a file format beggars belief. When I suggested XML you'd think I'd suggested that everyone in the room get naked and start making the beast with two backs. "We looked at XML," they said "and it's just a fad."...........and an eerie silence befell the room.

  87. P. Lee

    re: company computers are not yours to customise


    But "unsupported" and "not allowed" are different. They could allow portable apps installed locally but not support them. They could even go as far as providing a list of "allowed but unsupported" software and a repository or links to get them.

    £250 to re-image a call-centre PC? I'll have me some of them "razor-thin margins" thank-you very much! Or maybe its a revenue opportunity more companies will take on-board - provide rubbish tools to employees and then fine them when they discover that there's a better way...

  88. Jamie 19

    What else would you expect from Orange.

    I have been on contract with them for the past few months and as soon as it expires I am leaving and will not go back. I keep losing connection and thier service is getting worst. It is to the point that I get missed call notices 2 and 3 days after the fact. I have sent a text and it has not gone out until sometimes a couple of hours after attempting to send. I use to think it was the phone until I talked to buddies who are with Orange and they are having the same sort of issue.

  89. MrHorizontal

    Hear hear!

    Thanks to both the technician reporting this and to El Reg for exposing it.

    I'm a web developer and supporting IE has been the bain of my work - not that IE is terrible software, but because no version of IE till IE8 has supported web standards properly meant I had to specifically hack all CSS and JavaScript to get IE to work with its proprietary techniques instead of just writing the code once, or even sometimes forcing IE users to view a cut-down version of the site since IE can't support some things at all.

    In the days that Windows XP is now officially on 'extended support' by Microsoft in that they hope to kill off all support of the 2002 OS, any business relying on IE-only web apps really are being dunosaurs. First, they should really should start considering accessibility and the far, far better support for richer interfaces in modern browsers, because it'd only take one disabled employee to complain they can't use the systems for the company to be in trouble with the DDA. Second as noted by you, the security flaws of IE are just insane, and corporates really should wake up and smell the coffee regarding this.

    So El Reg! Can I call on you to start an anti-IE campaign and name and shame companies that continue to use IE? Because you'd be doing an immense amount of good if IE can be reduced to below 5% market share, as that's a fair threshold at which point the effort of support versus extending development and testing schedule simply becomes a not worth it. With a continued 20% market share, unfortunately that's still 1 in 5 people and we have to support it in the mean time...

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I work for a bank, and have both Firefox and IE6 installed on my unbearably sluggish XP box. Is it incredibly contrary of me to admit choosing IE6 over Firefox? Perhaps it's the stone age specs of the PC I've been assigned, but FF takes an age even to start up. Switching between tabs? Luckily for me there's a coffee machine nearby. It's easy to deride IE6 - but in some cases it's the lesser of two evils.

    Oh and my home PC runs Chrome, purely because I like its stripped down interface - how fickle of me.

  91. John Angelico

    @oliver jones

    No one I have read in comments disagrees that it's company policy.

    It's just that everyone seems to agree that it's a blanket policy being applied STUPIDLY, and consequently is affecting staff morale, customer relations and business image.

  92. Alexis Vallance

    Not a 'fine'

    "I'm pretty sure companies are legally not allowed to "fine" their employees, or even to threaten them with fines!"

    No private company has any power in law to issue fines. They can only recoup actual losses.

    Whether they could prove fixing any problems would cost the me £250 would be a problem for them. They certainly would not be permitted to remove it from salary.

    Not sure what damage installing Firefox could do anyway.

  93. Anonymous Coward

    None of you will read this far but...

    Here are the pertinent points, for those of you still with us:

    1. Orange fine their staff. Although the Law of the Britards is all about oppressing the man in the "factory" in favour of his well-off BMW-driving superiors, I'd like to see this one in a tribunal.

    2. A bunch of backward enterprises roll out "Web" applications at a Microsoft level of clue, meaning that it's all IE6 and some ActiveX control, thus missing the point of the Web. *However*, the lock-in can't be that tight here because Firefox seems to work with Orange's undoubtedly shitty intranet, meaning that the nasty ActiveX glue for Firefox, if required, probably works well enough.

    3. Orange clearly think that threatening their employees, who just want to have a bearable and, crucially, more productive working environment - it's not like they want to play games and show management the finger while trashing the company washrooms - is better than spending the time cooperating with those employees to run the business better. This is a classic "I'm a serious manager/businessman: how dare my employees even think about anything other than shovelling money into my bank account and the glory of my business while on my premises!" wanker attitude seen not just in Britain, but add on "I'm off to the Tory party conference!" and you get the picture.

    Fail and Orange, indeed.

  94. Anonymous Coward

    Whoops! RBS also use IE6 "officially"

    Although for those of us in the IT-related depts there are no bars, and Firefox is widely used by most for everything apart from the (hardcoded) intranet stuff...

  95. Tristam Green

    Feel their pain

    While we're not threatened with monetary fines, we're also "forbidden" by our IT security and usage policies from downloading Firefox, Safari, Opera, or any "unsupported" software, simply because of two P.O.S. vendors (I'm looking at you, Oracle and IBM) refusal to offer alternative browsers as a supported frontend.

    Time to get to the last half-decade, at least.

  96. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same old Same old

    A recent conversation went like this:

    "Why are we testing this application on ie 6 ?"

    "versions of IE later than 6 are not approved"

    "Why not?"

    "our applications haven't been tested with them"


  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fair enough

    Workers not allowed to install apps will-nilly. SHOCK! HORROR!

    Why are the allowed to access the Mozilla site?

    Why do they have rights to install anything?

    My guess....all the call centre operatives are running as Administrator on their local PC (in typical Windows fashion).

    As for moving away from IE6...won't happen for at least another 5-10 years. Think of all the legacy apps that exist and would need to be re-written. Only when they EOL and get updated will they potentially support more modern browser. And that's *IF* the company requests it (at probably extra expense).

    C'mon, these people still use COBOL! But at least COBOL is good at what it does, IE6 is just an abomination.

    I am currently doing an intranet app that is targeted at IE6 as that is all the client can use due to their legacy systems. But I am making sure is will run happily on FireFox et al. Although I don't expect them to move to this any time soon.

  98. Peter Kay

    @Charging for Y2K

    I'd dispute that, actually. The major OS vendors released patches for free. Plenty of enterprise software was fixed under maintenance. Whilst it won't comprise the entirety of the problem what remained was really old software/hardware, cheap consumer level shit and companies that didn't tie down their contracts properly.

    The major cost was manpower, and that's never free.

    There were some shysters trying to sell all manner of crap, but generally the industry buckled down and fixed the problem, even if it shouldn't have been necessary. Apart from a few people that didn't, and a number of systems that failed on February 29th 2000. Roll on 2038; not enough is being done to fix that.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think much of the problem lies with PC Helpdesk staff not being trained or possibly even capable of trying much more than a power reset or a 'reformat and rebuild'. Gone are the days when someone knowledgeable turned up at your desk and had your PC singing & dancing again in half an hour. Figuring out what a problem actually is and fixing it takes too long and is too expensive, so all non-technical staff are forced into using the stuff that's worked for years, and which the company can't justify taking the risk/costs of changing. It eases the situation with the service contract company, which presumably proved cheaper than company's own staff. Meanwhile technical staff are expected to sort their own non-standard kit out by themselves regardless whether PCs are their speciality or not; even when the problems are caused by company making changes outside of the tech group's area. Never mind the problems, just so long as the budget looks as if it's as low as it can be.

  100. Ian Michael Gumby

    Read between the lines...

    You have two issues.

    1) Code written to work on IE6 browser may not work on another browser or version of IE.

    2) Reworking the code costs money. Money that Orange doesn't have to spend if they don't migrate to another browser.

    3) Large companies want to lock down what software is loaded and supported in a way to a) control their environment. b) control the costs of development and c) keep support simple.

    Is this daft? Maybe, depending on which side of the coin you are on. Are you the user who has to take longer to respond, or are you the manager or senior executive that has to either ask or approve the IT costs of maintaining and upgrading the software to make the workers marginally more efficient. An act, which btw puts that manager's or the executive's job on the line...

    Its not so simple when you put things in to perspective.

  101. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Software installation

    Software installation... while the ideal is that the users cannot have admin rights to install their own software, this is often impossible due to fucktard developers who manage to write (aka blindly cobble together) applications that "require" administration rights just to run.

    On this front, I can feel for the admins at Orange - the useless so-called web apps aren't, they're IE6 botched apps instead. As a result, they have to keep using IE6 as IE7 (and IE8) are so bloated that the hardware, that should be quite adequate for the job, cannot sensibly cope. They can't use any other browsers either, as these don't work with the IE6-app's that are in use.

    Next, they can't even lock down the systems because some crud applications won't work if they can't write to wherever they damn well please in the file system / registry (registry use = fail, every time - dumbest idea for a long time from MS).

    As a result, users start installing crud on the systems they use (company property, not personal) - custom browsers, plug-ins, junk-mail apps, trojans, viruses, etc. This can take a long time to fix - often through the hassle of having to re-image systems and re-configure them - imaging is all very well but if the hardware pool varies, can be a lot of hassle.

    Threatening the users with a, possibly illegal, £250 fine isn't an especially smart move though.

  102. Neil Charles

    They interfere with Firefox though

    The call centre might not be able to use it, but if you install an Orange Livebox, it will hijack the default search and branding on Firefox without asking.

    I've finally worked out how to put the address bar search back to normal, but am going to have to live with the fact that every time Firefox upgrades, it tells me that two Orange plugins aren't compatible. You can turn them off, but God knows how you permanently get rid of the things (they're locked and the advice for removing locked plugins won't do it.) After a few hours trawling forums and Google, I give up.

  103. Psymon
    Gates Halo

    The real problem is

    that a lot of the web based apps will be 3rd party, so in-house development has to work around their shortcomings.

    This is why it's understandable (though still not forgivable) that they've not yet upgraded.

    But Firefox? not a sodding chance!

    That software has no place on a large corporate network. The Mozilla developers simply don't have a clue as to how a modern (or even vaguely modern) windows network operates.

    It stores all its configuration settings in files under each user - a whopping great no-no.

    It also stores its temporary internet cache in the wrong application data folder, so if your network uses roaming profiles, your users end up carting vast swathes of useless data around between machines, and clogs up your servers.

    As some previous commenters have touched on, group policy management allows extremely granular configuration of every aspect of IE. Because Firefox doesn't use the registry correctly, it's impossible to control or manage in any meaningful way.

    The true irony is that IE, no matter which version, is actually vastly more secure than any other browser because of these GP configuration options.

    You can define by zone, precisely what is and isn't allowed to run - javascript, flash, activex etc. You can define what it can and can't download, restriced websites, add-on installs, the list goes on.

    There are literally hundreds of configuration options that you can mix and match depending on what user logs onto what computer.

    This means that you can shut IE down into 'read-only' mode for all external websites, and open up every possible 3rd party plugin for your own intranet systems. Combine that with a decent corporate firewall and overall windows lockdown, and nothing malicious is getting through, no matter what vulnerabilities are discovered in the browser.

    It's this functionality that makes IE the defacto, and still the only choice for any sysadmin that's got more than a hundred machines to look after.

    By comparison, Firefox looks like a tedious and time consuming back door into your systems, so it is of no suprise that they came down so hard on the phone monkeys. (I'm allowed to call them that, I used to be one once upon a time.)

    Although, the fact that these guys have enough local user rights to install something, highlights that it's the administrator that should be fined £250 for each machine that goes down because he's too incompetant to secure the machines properly.

    I chose Bill as a saint, simply because group policy management has literally saved me thousands of man-hours work! (That's no exageration!)

  104. Anonymous Coward

    I feel the pain

    You'd be surprised how many places employ front end web designers but don't allow them to install any browser other than one (usually IE6 for the big boys).

    In one of the places I used to work I would bring in a netbook and EMAIL (no USB allowed) the files between the two so I could cross-browser check my work. That is shear madness!

  105. david 64


    our users don't have rights to install anything.

    we insist on ie simply for centralised and managed patch management. don't give a hoot what the users think, we need to be able to apply patches across the board quickly and reliably. hence we stipulate (and force) ie.

    we use wsus to standardise on ie7 - contemplating the ie8 rollout, we've been using it in IT since its release and has caused no issues with our internal web apps or anything else. so guess will be rolling that out soon.

    if mozilla release some sort of centralised updating mechanism that corporates can use to reliably and quickly update all firefox installations across our wan, then we might take it a bit more seriouly as a corporate tool.

    personal opinions and preferences aside, my employer employs me to keep things as secure and manageable as possible.. rightly or wrongly, at the moment, that is ie simply due to manageability (gpo\ieak) and patch management (wsus).


  106. Adam 10

    @Orange SUCK

    Oh boo-frickety-hoo, a company with whom you have no corporate interest uses an application that isn't your preferred internet browser.

    Do any of the "OMG Orange sucks, IE6 sucks, use FireFox!" fanboys have any experience in corporate IT? I don't mean fixing your mate's computer when he got a trojan off some pr0n torrent, I mean actual IT.

    In my experience FireFox is no better than IE6 for stability, but is worse for compatibility because of the whole crusade for being standards-compliant rather than "actual real-life Internet"-compliant.

  107. Anonymous Coward

    Corporate Ignorance

    Yep, I work for a large Scottish branded bank in the UK which is now mostly publicly owned.

    IE6 is still on all of the desktops here, and recent requests to the architecture committee to allow Firefox on the desktop stating all the obvious and sensible reasons was declined. Nice one guys.

  108. Anonymous Coward

    IE6 here too.

    We only just got XP a few months ago, and it is locked down to the garish Luna theme.

    I'd have thought that such a task as updating the OS on 500+ PC's would mean that a simple browser upgrade rolled in would be a doddle.

    I have 16 windows open at the moment, the majority different browser windows and it's a right pain in the arse. Gimme tabs!

    A pint because it's the only tab I'll be opening today.

  109. Mothballs

    Pipped off

    Whilst I commend Orange for employing people with learning difficulties, I'm still trying to get them to restore access to my email which they broke when 'upgrading' my mobile account at the beginning of May.

    Could we fix the important stuff first, please?

  110. MarkOne

    Not suprising.

    Both Firefox AND IE are security nightmare, with more holes than swiss cheese.

    The difference is, it's easier to ensure any holes are patched in IE quickly (via SUS or WU), firefox you have to rely on the users to do it, as there is no central management.

  111. Anonymous Coward


    As a former IT security and current Business continuity bloke.

    They sound like they have no kind of forward planning. The IT dept would have insisted the brower and web apps followed international standards anyway to ensure future compatiblity.

    Their DR and Business continuity staff should be sacked as this is a fundamental flaw in their plans. Recovery at a third party external site. Compatibility issues should be one of the reasons to upgrade.

    Their IT security dept should be ashamed as they are responsible for a secure method of browsing and IE 6 just isn't. Regardless of who you favour, IE 6 is riddled full of flaws and coding errors.

    And having the ability to download software is a no no in a call centre environment.

    Then again I used to work in an insurance company with a manager who was running the IT dept's olympic themed team events and had to ask where canada was. (Amongst other things)

    And I now work for the NHS who allow all their staff full admin rights to their local machines.

    Orange are not alone and there is no accounting for the stupid morons that somehow manage to get to senior management and IT director roles.

    Anon because my boss might read this. :)

  112. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Re: Corporate Ignorance

    >>Do any of the "OMG Orange sucks, IE6 sucks, use FireFox!" fanboys have any experience in corporate IT? I don't mean fixing your mate's computer when he got a trojan off some pr0n torrent, I mean actual IT.

    Probably more than you mate. 15 years good enough?

    >>In my experience FireFox is no better than IE6 for stability, but is worse for compatibility because of the whole crusade for being standards-compliant rather than "actual real-life Internet"-compliant.

    You really should get out more and not only use the Intralan.

  113. yllekkram


    if someone was peev'd off enough they could try to have the call centers done for failure to comply with securing customer data in accordance with the data protection act, for using IE6 since the security holes are abundant in it.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Going backwards to go forwards

    i work for Virgin Media and were still using IE6. thankfully they did finally upgrade us to win xp last year in our office, but we are not allowed to use firefox at all

  115. Anonymous Coward

    I feel that

    I also work for one of the big four mobile networks and its is same situation... stuck with IE6.

    I started using Firefox because of IE6, it sucks. But allowing staff admin rights to install software on networked computers, computers that can access millions of peoples personal details is just stupid.

  116. Anonymous Coward

    IT policy

    Policy should be enforced with restrictions not 'suggested' as a user guideline.

    What the heck are call centre agents doing being allowed to download and install applications?

    Heck I wouldn't even give them internet access from their primary workstation.

    No wonder my phone bills are so high.

  117. Anonymous Coward


    I work for Orange Broadband in an outsourced callcentre and we have been threatened with disciplinary action for having the audacity to use Firefox - a browser that works and actually improves our performance.

    We have full access to the internet which is slightly unnerving considering some of the outdated software we have installed on our PCs, mainly IE6 and a version of Adobe Reader from the time of the dinosaurs.

    Our CRM (a horrid Oracle PeopleSoft creation) and most of the technical systems are web based and accessed over the internet so depending on which department you work in, you can have anything up to 10 individual IE6 windows open taking up all the machine's resources and forcing you to click all over the damn place to find the application you need.

    In my opinion tabbed browsing is a must in this type of environment as it improves the performance of the agent dealing with the customer's query and makes things more efficient all round.

    One of our legacy systems is Java based and runs slower than molasses. I'm sure the customers must get pissed off sometimes when I'm continually asking them to "bear with me" while their account details trickle down the wire and eventually appear in this dilapidated system.

    Not that our lack of adequate IT resources matters anymore, seeing as all our jobs are moving to India to save money. Which incidently pisses off the customers and causes them to cancel their contract, making Orange lose money anyway. Nevermind.

  118. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Orange- always a follower, never a leader.

    Orange will never be a leader, never a world class company, innovation, bleeding edge and first principles are not anywhere to be found in the current Customer services division. They are most happy staying 3rd placed in the Network league table, why work harder when you can coast along. The CEO has plans right now on his desk to outsource the support division, better known as IT&N. Whose opening debut to the freedom of information was to have arm twisting exercises thrust upon them to admit to every project being 19 mths behind on schedule, true they have improved since but remain silent as to any success. And furthermore, it is alleged that the wonderful Single Network Queue for call routing has been a roaring success, yes if it is classified in the failure listings. (Remember a Which Report on broadband) Ever have calls not being answered ? Found yourself suddenly talking to empty space? You cannot be transferred? Being told that ''no notes'' found on your account ? Agents apologizing for the delay in accessing information - welcome to the modern world. At base computing levels of conflicting software at the application level, called Merlin ('cos it needs magik to run without mishap) clashes with SNQ and both hoq what little processor power the desktop has.

    The run to change the Browser was the 'intelligent' immediate solution to make the very limited desktops render enough power to run without crashing repeatedly. The call centre staff have to keep daily logs of outages, crashes, exceptions, strangeness and charm episodes to qualify that it was a system fuck up and not the staff member. But guess what readers? Orange management refuse to admit that any systems have problems, and that since every pc fails differently at different times with different errors, then it clearly is the member of staff failing to operate the provided equipment properly and therefore that individual deviates from rigid service provision. If raised with any gumption and challenge, management standard answers yield, ''that cannot be true'' or ''that should not happen'' And the kicker in the soft region, squash the employee bonus. Brilliant service, never - Brilliant 1970s management attitudes still prevailing, yes - deserves a Nobel prize for that ability. It is only public exposure that will force Orange to wake up and actually stop meetings in dreamscape and get into reality of what is required to do a job well done.

    A senior member of staff from France (nameless of course), says that perhaps with newer management and stronger ideals, such as zest, get up and go, hot dynamics - maybe 5 years hence will render the necessary core overhaul. In the meantime, the current Orange reality is rather like a tangerine dream. Now you can cry.

  119. dave hands
    Gates Horns


    122 responses and no, NOT ONE, noticed the following --

    "we asked Microsoft if firefox was safe and they said "no way, firefox is not safe under any circumstances"

    Lies, damned lies and Corporate Stances.

  120. ben edwards


    My company insists on giving the peasant ranks low-end machines - you know, the kind that were low-end even when the OS they were initially installed on was new.

    Yep, we're on w2k clunkers that take a good 10+ minutes to boot up, with locked down profiles that (try) to block most decent clickage. Essentially, we're forced to use ie6 - not for security or compatibility, but because of the machines running the software.

    Not a single machine is ghostable either, its a hybrid mixture of mobos, drives, cpus and ram amounts. So yay for us.

  121. Anonymous Coward

    Win 2000 + IE6 here :D

    Here at Sainsbury's we have Windows 2000 on all the office computers, the checkouts, everything. And of course IE6. And naturally, an appalling stock control app which runs through IE6. And lovely stock control handsets running some ancient version of WinCE with some awful software running on top of that that crashes and needs a full reinstallation several times a day. Wastes about an hour of my/their time every single day. Nevermind..

  122. DirkGently
    Thumb Down

    @dave hands RE: STOP

    Yeah, I didn't think it was a very funny joke either.

    Regarding tabbed browsing, why don't they ask if they can use something like Avant Browser? I hate it, but at least it won't break most apps written for IE 6.

  123. Anonymous Coward

    Orange Desktop support

    The reason Orange's PC support and lock-down is so poor is because it is outsourced to HP, formerly EDS. They do not do any diagnosis at all. I used to use a laptop and it suddenly decided it wasn't part of the domain any more (because I didn't use it on the LAN for about 3 months - fair enough). The remedy? Pay £250 quid for a new laptop to be swapped with the one I had, the new one being part of the domain. That's the problem - any issues are simply erased with every support call by rebuilding the PC at £250 a time. Money for old rope for HP.

  124. Anonymous Coward

    Just as expected.......

    I'm glad to hear that Orange is an asshole all throughout the world and not bullying only people of the post-communist parts of EU :P

    If there were an avatar condemning major corps. in general I would've used that one istead....

  125. DrXym

    It's stories like this...

    ... which explain why companies should never, EVER code against the features found in just one browser. I bet IE6 is insisted upon because some crappy 5 or 6 year old apps expect certain HTML to be honored, or worse embeded ActiveX components or similar. Worse, it's probably some app that is used for timesheets or similar, hardly critical to day to day operation. The impact of those decisions isn't just annoying, it's hurting Orange in a very real way. If people are hobbled by the antiquated browser, theyre costing the company in time and money. Every day they're stuck on IE6, is a day when they're losing money.

    Let's hope these issues serve as a warning to others, or at least as a lesson to future IT managers. Do not code to the browser. Code to the standards and work around if necessary. Browsers are not immutable and if you design an app to one you are inviting yourself to a world of hurt. Code will not be maintainable and will most likely fail without major modification in each and every other browser you port it to. In fact, I'd say that any IT professional who doesn't get this fact by now really shouldn't be in a position to design internet apps. CODE TO THE STANDARDS AND WORKAROUND IF NECESSARY. NEVER CODE TO A BROWSER.

  126. John Taylor 1

    intranet and internet

    The main problem is that there is two environments and both (wither we like it or not) have completely different requirements:

    intranet: line of business applications, fixed cost, upgraded once every 3-4 years (if that) with maintenance releases about every other month. The client (however hard I try) will not pay for cross browser support, or pay to trace down a bug in firefox, opera or safari as it is not there operating environment....even ie8...the fact is its v tough to sell cross browser support to a customer with his eye on the bottom line figures and who has no focus on technology.

    The internet: way easier to sell cross browser support as latest greatest tech is used in the wild, the customer has no option..its not an only ie universe out there...but still find it hard to sell firefox, opera and safari/chrome support...but i avoid developing ie only products for this...and i find it easier to dig my heals in.

    I use fedora 11 and firefox at home (debian lenny and iceweasel on my netbook) but mozilla, google and opera really need to start pushing themselves into the intranet space...i cant sell there products into that space for profit in doing that...i just get looked at for being unrealistic and not focusing on the 'needs of the customer' (a line that has been used to justify untold sin and folly) :)

    anyways thats my perspective on why ie6 isnt dead yet (oh how i wish it was dead) and why companies now are crapping themselves about the eventual death of ie6 no matter how hard they hang onto it...


    Im a developer and yes im guilty of writing ie6 websites for intranet apps, im now starting to find it easier to sell the idea that they should now target ie8 aswell as ie6 as it is slowly 'going to be replaced with service packs and security updates'...

  127. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking as a naive non techie......

    Why can't you have both so users can get used to the upgrade at their own pace, those services that do work can migrate, new development can take place on the new technologies so that eventually the old technology fades away.

  128. KarlTh

    @10th July 2009 14:15

    What? Takes ten seconds to reset the computer account and rejoin the domain. Useless lot.

  129. Anonymous Coward


    Call centre employees with Internet access. Let me fire up my keyloggers and bot net pay loads.

    Unbelieveable that a company that has access to personal data on a scale such as Orange allows call centre employees access to the internet fromt he machines they use to call up customer accounts.

    Lookee here; bank account details, DOB's and home address ... how fun is this...

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work in that call center...

    Thank god I left and got a proper job though!

    There is a good reason for them to have internet access, it's the emerging technologies side of the business, which means new tech only just going live to the public (3G, mobile broadband etc.) being able to get online means they have access to be able to answer customers questions (I'll leave it up to the Orange customers to tell you about how useful that one is!). Most of the technical information needed is found on the web rather than locally and and instruction manuals don't seem to exist within the Orange intranet.

    They used to deal with Broadband but that got moved to India, now it's all crackberries and 'mobile broadband', including the laptops they give away. So people there need the net and they've generally got a good level of IT know how as well, not admin level know how by any stretch of the imagination but a majority of them could probably hold down a first level helpdesk job reasonably well.

    When I was running Firefox there (I was a naughty boy) it sped up the machine no end. the desktops have either 256 or 128 MB of ram in them on a P3 chip, at least 7 applications are needed to do your basic job, up to 10 extra for any individual task. Most of them run on the browser requiring a new instance of IE for each, although one notable application seemed to try and load a massive amount of data into RAM. The old 'Virtual Memory' warnings were a constant companion.

    So, naughty little call centre workers try to upgrade their systems in order to be able to do their jobs. You might wonder how they dare to do it. The more important question though is how they do it. The IT support for Orange got outsourced to Hungary last year rendering it all but impossible to get a resolution to anything and seemingly the domain administration was outsourced to a monkey. The upshot being that many call centre users have a lot more access to their machines than they should have through poor domain management and frankly, if I'm given access to do something useful on my machine, I'm going to do it.

    The 250 quid fine threat sounds just like that place though, I'm willing to bet I know the name of the person who emailed el reg and the name of the person who the fine email came from, some things never change!

    Bearing in mind that there is a proxy server in use there and that it was one of the few bits of IT which worked well, I wonder if Orange should be fining their call center staff or the company they outsourced their IT to...

  131. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If an agent's desktop with Firefox gets hacked, management will blame IT. If an agent's desktop with IE gets hacked, management will blame Microsoft. If there's 100 percent agent attrition because the desktop sucks, management will blame HR. So that's that.

  132. Gaz71

    Another perspective

    Orange are a large organisation, probably struggling to reduce support costs at the same time as stuggling to secure investment to redevelop core web-based apps. They would probably love to embrace the new technology but it is rarely that simple. That said, the fact that staff can modify their machines undermines any effort to reduce support costs.

  133. Ricky H

    on learning about this i'd like to say

    big fat fail SMORANGE! I will never buy, endorse, or have anything to do with your products or services EVER again. I will recommend to all my friends to AVOID your products too.

  134. Tawakalna
    Gates Horns

    @dave hands..

    "we asked Microsoft if firefox was safe and they said "no way, firefox is not safe under any circumstances"

    I noticed. chum, I just didn't say owt.

  135. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Misses the point

    Since the suite of custom software Orange is using is built with IE6 in mind, it's perfectly understandable that there's a policy in place not to replace IE6 with any other browser. It's saying that users shouldn't replace what is essentially a critical component of a very large system with one they feel is better.

    What's messed up is that Orange, being an IT company, failed to pick up on the fact that the web-based internal software they were having done failed to comply with web standards. Now they're stuck with it and probably can't fit an upgrade in the budget (the price of turning a large suite of crappy software standards-compliant could end up in the eight-figure range).

    Good software is incredibly scarce in the corporate world, mind you, primarily because decisions like "what developer do we go with" are executive decisions, and corporate executives are almost always deluded, arrogant, clueless idiots. No really, it's the truest stereotype in the world. And because executives and managers are so full of it (even in some cases literally senile), companies that get it right are few and far between. Even in those places where you'd expect to find exemplary software, like say the military, or banks or hospitals, what you do find is mostly shockingly bad (on many, many levels).

    So to pick on Orange for being exactly like almost every other business is a little misguided. Sure, I wouldn't ever sign a contract with them but that's because I'm a conscious consumer and Orange have horrific T's & C's. And after all there are those few business who make a sincere effort to get it right, who actually promote people to management based on good assessments of expertise and management skill (instead of favouritism etc.). Those are the ones we need to hear about. Help us find out where we *could* put our money in good conscience.

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