Get this stuff out of my head.

HMG Won't Kill IE6

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Today the Government responded to a petition to drive all Government bodies to upgrade their browsers to something that conforms to modern standards.  The petition was signed by 6,223 people who believed that the reluctance for many Government departments to upgrade costs many thousands (if not millions) of pounds of additional, unnecessary development costs to ensure that web applications still work with this 10 year old web browser. The petition also cited the security vulnerabilities in IE6 as another good reason to upgrade, surely our Government systems should be using secure and reliable software. The Government’s response basically boils down to:
  • the security issues are dealt with by the Government networks, firewalls and filters
  • upgrading is not cost effective
Now, I can see that the cost to upgrade is more than will be more about upgrading all the existing systems that have been built to ONLY work with IE6 than just installing new browsers on all PCs and that that cost will bring no new direct benefit to users and therefore the cost doesn’t seem to be justified, but what doesn’t seem to have been understood is the future cost of NOT upgrading. Not only is there a cost for any web project that must be made compatible with IE6 (this cannot be understated), but the cost of Government users not being able to take advantage of new techniques, interfaces and tools that are commonplace in the web applications we all use daily is enormous. Our ability to open our Government up and  for citizens to work with civil servants is going to rely on everybody being able to use the same tools, to be able to see and share the same information and contribute to it together. Now surely there is someone, somewhere in Microsoft who is bright enough to work out how IE6 can be packaged up so it can still be used on those legacy systems that weren’t built to the right standards in the first place, while still allowing IE8 (or another modern browser) to be used for all other modern systems.