back to article Anti-Internet Explorer 6 protests grow with online petition

Opposition to the UK government’s continued endorsement of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 continues to mount, after a petition was submitted to Number 10 yesterday. "We the undersigned petition the prime minister to encourage government departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6," reads the online appeal that was …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    An internet petition! I'm sure they're shivering in their bunkers as we speak!

  2. Pete 43

    It's the Del boy's clapped out Reliant Robin of browsers

    (with flat tyres)

  3. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns


    "Microsoft will officially kill the browser in July 2014."

    Typical irresponsible behaviour from Microsoft, once again showing scant regard to the security of it's "customers" (victims?). It's reprehensible to encourage people to drop Windows XP while leaving IE6 staggering around like some kind of software zombie. But then there's no money to be made from browser upgrades, is there?

    1. Pandy06269

      XP still lives

      I believe because Vista was such a sham, they're supporting XP installations (probably on netbooks) until 2014, which means they have to support IE6 until then, too.

      So I agree, while they're urging customers to move away from XP and upgrade to 7, they still have to support those where it's not possible to due to hardware constraints. People who have just bought a shiny new netbook with XP won't be fond of the idea of buying a new one just to be able to upgrade to Win7.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Knowledge obviously isn't a prerequisite for commenting

        That "shiny new netbook with XP" will quite happily run IE8.

  4. Mage Silver badge


    No need for IE6

    Opera, Seamonkey, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and IE7 all work on XP for me.

    Admittedly I only use IE7 for .CHM and other Microsoft stuff that doesn't work with Firefox.

    Why on earth MS supporting IE6 for so much longer? If you have something that only runs IE6 you are in deeper trouble.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Use UnMHT instead.

    2. Dominik Stansby


      Why are you using IE7 on XP? IE8 runs on IE7 so there's no need for IE7 as well as IE6..

      1. Big-nosed Pengie
        Gates Horns


        Why are you running Aieee at all? In fact, why are you running Windwoes at all?

    3. gav_taylor

      Why on earth MS supporting IE6 for so much longer?

      they have to support it for as long as the product it came bundled with is supported.

      in this case IE6 came bundled with XP, and because if you do a fresh install of XP, IE6 is the default browser they have to support IE6 till the support ends for XP

      this is a failure in Microsoft's support policy, they either need to separate IE as an individual product which would then let them end support for it or update their support policy to exclude it

  5. Cucumber C Face

    Contract change notices: heard of them?

    1. Management consultancies will be lining their pockets because the civil service muppets signed contracts which specified IE 6.

    2. CCN's take two years to negotiate in the public sector (if you're lucky). So don't hold your breath.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Start the sackings

      Whichever Whitehall moron spec'd a design that did not follow the open and widely published standards at the time needs sacked.

      They would not be in this mess if they had followed the standards.

      No proprietary modules means no lock-in.

      There is noth9ing else to be done, sack them for gross professional negligence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        How would that help? The department would still be stuck with IE6.

        By all means track down the idiot, or idiots, and sack them, but it won't suddenly mean IE6 can be dropped.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    The French and Germans ditch IE6 in favour of FF and Chrome. Our gov announces the NHS will be upgraded to IE7, another out of date browser!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not the same thing

      The French and German governments advised home users to move away from IE to other browsers. That's a hell of a lot easier than trying to replace IE6 within an entire government-run institution.

      I wonder if the same people who signed the petition would be able to deal with the fallout of 1.3 million NHS employees switiching to a different browser on a whim. Clearly the upgrade to IE7 is happening, but I wouldn't fancy running that project.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    There people out there still using Windows? Why? I mean really.. Why?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge


      Windows works out of the box on every bit of hardware it claims to. On the rare occasion when an obscure device doesn't have a driver you can be sure to download it and get it installed without having to rebuild the kernel or break into a sweat.

      Linux might be better for techies and geeks but for most people Windows is easier. The occasional security issue is a minor nuisance. By contrast Linux can be a PITA to configure and although it's more secure that can often leave you f'ing and blinding because of apparently stupid hoops you have to jump through.

      It can be a tough choice sometimes but in general Linux wins for servers, loses on the desktop. Not by all that much in either case. The main thing is not get partisan about it. Assess the requirements and choose what's most appropriate.

      1. cyborg


        If only - I gave up trying to reinstall XP on my desktop and laptop and now have Ubuntu on them.

        The recovery disk for the laptop failed to recover properly and no matter how hard I tried I could not persuade Window's to recognise the SoundBlaster card in the desktop.

        I don't blame Windows in particular here but the 3rd party culture of proprietary code. Whilst the linux eco-system leads to a progressively more useful set of technical knowledge solidified in code for a wide range of hardware the Windows eco-system leads to a nightmare scenario of bit-rot if you ever stray outside the support window.

        It's a fact of computing life that system setup can be full of pitfalls and that the probability of getting stung by one is proportional to the complexity of the system. This needs to be treated on a case-by-case basis rather than pretending that some system has a magic ability to avoid these sorts of problems.

  8. DoesAnyoneSpeakSense?

    This is worrying...

    I'm a little worried why so much attention is being placed on this. Surely the point of the web is to be platform independent, and any web developer worth their salt designs to web standards and not individual browsers.

    The security question is also worrying. It assumes that all of the government users have direct access to the internet as a whole. I would *hope* there would be content filters etc that will block access to potentially damaging sites. And since MS are supporting the browser until 2014 I assume they will still release security patches for it. Again, I would *hope* there's a decent patch policy in place to roll these out to users...

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re : ? This is worrying...

      The whole point is that IE6 does NOT adhere to web standards and many people have coded specifically for it. Hence the mess.

    2. Cynical Observer

      "any web developer worth their salt designs to web standards and not individual browsers."

      ....if only!

      As a business, why would I want to pay a web developer that delivered a site that cannot be used by an appreciable segment of the potential market. Standards matter little in the face of £.

      This is why the Google move is significant - for such a large entity to effectively say to a portion of its customer base that it cares not about them is a wake up call that is long overdue.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        IE6 is not a significant proportion...

        ...outside of the intranet. The dominant browsers are Firefox, IE7, and IE8. And probably in that order.

  9. Mark 8

    UKGOV better with IT Than Google?

    So Google fell foul to attacks but our wonderful government thinks they don't have to worry because they keep their systems up to date.

    Has the muppet that wrote that ever worked within a UK Government IT department, they are bloody awful with hundreds of unpatched and out of date machines knocking about. They honestly think that something that hit Google won't hit them.....


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I know.

      Can you say "Conficker"? (Look at the recent police debacle)

      Can you say "Open, unsercure USB ports"?

      For this, and cost reasons, the government should be moving to Linux (and encouraging schools to do the same, not paying for MSs advertising). Linux does have problems. Linux can be attacked and could get vriuses; but it is still more secure than Windows. Damned sight cheaper too.

      Oh yeah, and no IE6 to worry about!

  10. Station Grey

    Recommendations to update to IE7?

    Surely recommending the NHS (or others) upgrade from IE6 to IE7 is like recommending they upgrade from carrier pigeons to telegrams. What's wrong with any of the range of modern browsers?

    The implicit assumption that Microsoft are in some way a 'default' or ideal candidate is ludicrous. They've never shown any ability to produce a decent browser and nothing in their roadmap shows they've any plans to. For developers, designers and content producers of all kinds, it's thoroughly depressing that MS are almost being encouraged to hold up development of the internet. Nobody with any kind of public responsibility should be seen advocating IE usage in any way. Firefox, Safari, Opera, even Chrome (I just don't get Chrome) - there's a wealth of choice.

    1. Old Marcus


      Isn't a bad browser, it's just that everything else is better.

      1. Big-nosed Pengie


        Ayeee actually is a bad browser.

  11. Gareth.

    Title Schmitle

    What a rubbish petition... that's not to say that I don't think that the Govt should be upgrading to a different browser (cause frankly it is shit) but the reasoning is complete pish.

    His petition states the following:

    “IE6 has some security flaws that leave users vulnerable. These two governments have let their populations know that an upgrade will keep them safer online. We should follow them." I'd like to know what these security flaws are - is he suggesting that he knows of exploits in IE6 that Microsoft haven't fixed? If so, he should do the right thing and disclose the details (publically or privately, I don't really care) as IE6 is still supported by MS and I'm sure they'd like to know of these vulnerabilities so they can fix them.

    Also, he states that:

    “Most creative and software development companies are forced by government department clients to build websites for IE6 when most of the industry has moved on. Companies insist that they need IE6 support because government departments use it and won't be able to see their sites or services without it."

    What a load of bollocks. Since when has the Government dictated anything to 'most creative and software development companies'..?

    And this guy is simply delusional if he really thinks that because Gordy's IT department upgrade then the rest of Europe is gonna follow suit. We've not been a super power for donkey's years... despite what us Brits like to believe, nobody else looks to us to decide what they should be doing.

    This whole thing is a marketing scam just so that he would get his company's name mentioned on BBC, El Reg, etc... Like 99.999% of IT workers, I'd never heard of them until today - and I've already forgotten what they're called so his plan hasn't worked really.

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    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. A Known Coward


        So you reported these leaks along with the analysis?

    2. Phillip Webster

      Leaks in javascript

      At least, it is in my experience.

      Using noscript and only allowing a handful of sites through, Firefox tends to eat far less RAM and crashes much, much less. I leave my machine on 24/7 often with uptimes of several weeks (which for Windows is good) and the same instance of FF running the entire time.

      Whether actual rendering speed is slower I'm unsure. If it is, it's not hugely noticeable. What is noticeable is that Firefox is far less responsive than some of its competitors with the entire UI often locking up for several seconds whilst it messes about in the background. 3.6 is marginally better, but it's not a huge improvement.

      Slowly switching to Chrome here, although I don't much like the tab layout with more than 10 or so tabs open, but at least it stays responsive.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somebody just need to use one of the IE flaws to nick

    a public officials private pr0n files. That will get their attention.

  14. Barry Tabrah

    The reason they won't tell you about

    Government, particularly local Government, are still running software that relies on IE6 that was written 7-8 years ago. This software is the backbone of many a department. The person who wrote the software left 3-4 years ago and left not a scrap of source code. And this software contains 7-8 years worth of data in a proprietary format that God himself would find hard to untangle. And that data exists only in this system.

    Government is desperately trying to avoid having to get someone in to decypher the data and import it into new, expensively written, software that relies on IE7.

    1. Glesga Snapper

      Sounds familiar...

      In a previous job, I worked for an arms-length, quango type company that administered an EU funding stream for the Scottish Executive.

      Part way through my employment they changed the process that applicants used to claim money, from paper forms to an online system. This system (which arrived several years behind schedule) was designed to run on IE6, and although we found it would run on other browsers, it would often do odd things. On one occasion I recall phoning the Exec's IT peeps on behalf of a small voluntary organisation who, to save money, were trying to run entirely using OSS - their response upon hearing that the applicant was running Firefox was "Oh good, we don't need to deal with this one.".

      We also had remote access to one of the Exec's internal databases through a web front-end, which, you guessed it, only ran on IE6.

      I wouldn't be surprised if both these system are still around and causing misery.

    2. Matt 75

      not the worst of it..

      Believe it or not I have a UK public sector client who still requires support for WinNT running IE5.5!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Drop IE6?

    Not good enough. They need to skip IE7 and demand that all services work using the STANDARDS!

    Then, if one browser/system shows up a major security flaw (as IE has; repeatedly) it is a simple matter to switch. No lock-in.

    You should comply with the standards FIRST (reporting any rending issues to the manufacturers as defects) and then go about tweaking. Not conforming to the standards is idiotic and tantamount to professional negligence.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    can anyone just please exploit some IE6 weaknesses with the UK gov?

    Just for the hell of it, to shut them up?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    not just government

    I work - through an out sourcer - for a bank in the Netherlands..

    our standard build here includes IE6

    Before here, I worked for another bank in Belgium - there we used Windows 2000 on citrix powered dumb (ass) terminals and yes, our browser was IE6

    perhaps the common theme here is Out Sourcing contracts... as was pointed out CCNs are expensive for the end clients.

  18. gav_taylor

    waste of time...

    the petition is never going to do anything as the government can do nothing but advise the public.

    what we need to do is what they did in Norway.

    All the web development companies, ISP's, etc.. in fact anyone who builds websites, need to come together and collectively stop developing for IE6.

    Once you cant visit any website because your IE6 wont display it correctly, people will update...

    [sad face because we will be supporting IE6 till 2014]

  19. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    petition fail

    "Deadline to sign up by: 01 February 2011"

    So, nothing will be done with it for another year.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BUT - IE7 will not run on W2k!

    So who is going to pony up the money to upgrade 10's of thousands of machines that can't even install XP? These machines work perfectly well on W2k using intranets, and would not need to b changed but for these 'unnecessary' software problems.

    OpenOffice + any decent browser, and save scrapping all these machines?

  21. Don Mitchell


    Open office uses more memory and CPU resources than MS Office, unfortunately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But OO works on ANY old hardware without a problem!

      And I can move transparently from windows to Linux

  22. Number6

    Web coders unite

    If everyone removed IE6 support from their website code, there would be a big incentive for those who use it to switch to something else once people found that they could no longer browse their favourite websites.

    Perhaps anything we wanted to keep secret from HMG should just be posted on sites that don't support IE6?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another reason to use FireFox

    Personally I use Firefox. For those sites that insist on MSIE, I use IETab.

    The choice between IE6 with lots of security weaknesses but a sensible user interface and IE7/8 with slightly fewer security flaws but a user interface that deliberately put the buttons that I use most at the far corners of the screen (and doesn't allow me to configure them any other way) would be hard to make.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    "Windows works out of the box on every bit of hardware it claims to."

    It doesn't claim to run on much -- XP is 8 years out of date and surprisingly SP1, SP2, SP3 did not add more recent drivers, and Vista and 7 dropped support for older hardware. XP being the bigger problem of the two -- seriously, try installing XP on something, you are HIGHLY *HIGHLY* likely to find you have no ethernet drivers, no sound drivers, and 640x480 video, and (if it has it) no wireless. You may have to shove in a driver disk just to install since XP also has no SATA drivers. And 7, you can't really count on installing it on some older system and have it work -- there's a lot of older stuff it does not support. I can plug the same Ubuntu CD into anything from a Pentium 2 through a Core 2 (and I'm sure newer stuff), and EVERYTHING works out of the box. IMHO the biggest weakness traditionally was wireless (it's improved recently), Ubuntu includes a package to install Windows wireless drivers if needed, right off the Windows driver CD!

    " On the rare occasion when an obscure device doesn't have a driver you can be sure to download it and get it installed without having to rebuild the kernel or break into a sweat."

    Not rare at all! And Linux has modules, so for the few items that do not have out-of-the-box support (but do have a driver available), for most distros you click it off a list, it does download source and build it but the package does the work for you, and since it's a module there's no kernel rebuild required. The nvidia driver for one does this.

    "Linux might be better for techies and geeks but for most people Windows is easier."

    You may not have used recent distros. I find people are afraid of ditching Windows, but (unless they use Quickbooks or something that really does need Windows), once they do ditch Windows they actually find Ubuntu to be easier than Windows. A few people I know were hardcore into Windows, they still have Windows but now they dual-boot, basically using Windows for games.


    That said... this really isn't about ditching Windows. They should absolutely ditch IE6 either way! It's just not secure. is foolish for thinking some setup + Microsoft patches will help them, I didn't think Microsoft was even patching every hole in IE6 in favor of patching IE7 and IE8.

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re : @AndrueC

      Agree entirely - I've built 2 brand-new Linux systems (OpenSUSE 11.0/11.2) in the the last year and in both cases had no issues with installation/config. The most recent system (dual-core Pentium, pci wireless) installed from start in ~20mins. which included most of the applications.

  25. ChadJK

    It's the INTRAnets people...

    ...and at the end of the day, the real reason they don't want to ditch IE6 is because no one wants to spend the time and money to overhaul their intranets (which were foolishly written to only render/function correctly on IE6).

  26. Pete 6

    Hell why not

    For what it's worth (usually very little) I've signed it. I'd like an update if not for the security reasons (though I don't see how you can make it more secure seeing how tightly locked down the internet is on MoD systems) but for the fact that half the internet is broken on IE6 and it's about time we had an update just so I can use Google Maps on a semi reliable basis.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    Thats not going to happen, considering that, in my experience, a large % of UK Public-Sector systems still run Windows 2000, which only supports IE6....

    1. JGalt

      If XP is the system that won't die, what about W2000?

      When XP came out, many financial institutions and others who had concerns about security flatly refused to contemplate installing XP because if its call-home features and the collection of data relating to the machine. Having found that they really do not need to keep spending money on new operating systems, they have stuck with it. Our own company runs W2000 on most of its non-Linux desktops even now. One reason for that is that it (mostly) works.

      But MS, as it was first with Win95 and Win98 intend to leave us orphaned and at the mercy of hackers because we don't want or need their newer software.

      The refusal to put IE7 or 8 onto Win2000 has caused no hassle: we deploy Firefox everywhere anyway. But there will no doubt come a time when IE6 does not access the MS website, leaving our Win2000 users out in the cold.

  28. John F***ing Stepp

    I am not a Windblows basher by any means

    But having to write javascript that runs on exploder makes me cringe.

    (welcome to my world.)

  29. Brian Scott


    Just a little point in favour of IE6.

    The old adobe SVG browser plugin worked with IE6 and gave reasonable results for embedded SVGs in web pages. As I recall, when adobe dropped support for their plugin ("all reasonable browsers have native SVG support built in") some years ago, IE7 and IE8 didn't exist and therefore don't work.

    Embedded SVG was a good way to crash IE7 in some quite entertaining ways. I haven't tried it with IE8.

    I think microsoft are considering adding SVG support to IE9 or 10, so in the meantime if you must access websites using important internet standards you should either use IE6 and the unsupported plugin or any other browser released in the last 5 years.

  30. mark 177

    Chrome no Better

    I became a regular user of Chrome until it suddenly decided to "run" (if you could call it that) slower than a three-toed sloth. Thirty seconds or more to open a page!

    Went to find support - there is none - deleted history as suggested; no difference.

    Removed program from PC, changed to Firefox - it has its faults but at least it does not turn my machine's guts to treacle.

  31. Matthew 4

    You think that's bad??

    Until last year I worked for a New Zealand SOE (which will remain nameless)

    IE5 ONLY. Perhaps they have IE6 by now

    The problem with anything which ends in .govt is that no one has the balls to take up the responsibility to make any changes, so things stay the same for far longer than anyone working for a private company would ever realise.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Usual Problem

    There are an awful lot of apps out there that will only run on IE6. One of our suppliers is a major corporate and their helpdesk app runs only on IE6. Anybody who uses that app has to use IE6. Here in IT we have no influence over the supplier. Senior management have no real leverage because we are tied into a term contract and this in no way consitutes a breach. Worse still the helpdesk app was developed by another large company which puts the whole thing at one remove. So some of our users are stuck using IE6 until our suppliers change the helpdesk app or the contract ends.

    I suspect that are in the same boat. They can't start throwing their weight around with suppliers because no doubt that would contravene EU procurement laws.

    The particular vuln that upset Google is stymied by our IPS so we're protected, but the worry is that sooner or later something will come along that the IPS can't cope with. It's also a pain supporting a handful of IE6 installs, not to mention dealing with all the shit that won't run on IE6 and making sure group policies and the like don't break IE6. Not forgetting making sure some idiot on the helpdesk doesn't "helpfully" upgrade the EU to IE8.

    Developers royally screwed their customers when they fell for MS's spin on broswer tech. MS made IE6 as non-standard as possible to try to tie developers and their customers into IE and also kill off the competion. The thinking presumably being that if they could get enough of the interwebs to be IE compatible only then the rest would surely follow. Then MS changed their minds (presumably at the thought of anti-trust action) and left those developers and their customers out in the cold come IE7.

  33. NB

    a title.

    Thank goodness I work for an institution with linux on the desktop! But having said that some of our websites still have to support IE6 (hopefully not for much longer) as our resources are used heavily by the NHS, which as we all know is still living in the interwebs equivalent of the dark ages.

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