There's a cost for organizations to upgrade browsers, but there's a cost for living with a 2001-era browser, too, petition organizer says.
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Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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It's time for the United Kingdom government to scrap Internet Explorer 6, upgrading away from the browser introduced in 2001 and the problems it brings now, according to a petition submitted Monday.
"We the undersigned petition the prime minister to encourage government departments to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6," according to the petition, submitted by Dan Frydman, a managing director of online publishing contractor Inigo. As of Monday afternoon PST, a few others had signed it; only British citizens or residents may.
"The German and French governments have started to encourage people to upgrade away from the browser Internet Explorer 6. IE 6 has some security flaws that leave users vulnerable. These two governments have let their populations know that an upgrade will keep them safer online," the petition said. "We should follow them. When the U.K. government does this, most of Europe will follow. That will create some pressure on the US to do so, too."
Plenty of tech companies, most notably Microsoft itself, are urging an upgrade from IE 6. The browser was introduced in 2001, just as Microsoft had definitively won the first browser wars and just before Windows XP was introduced. Since then, IE 6 has been succeeded by IE 7 and IE 8, with IE 9 in the works. In the meantime, Firefox has grown to account for nearly a quarter of Web usage, and Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome account for nearly another 10 percent.
Frydman recognizes it's not always easy for organizations to upgrade to a newer browser. However, there's a cost to staying with IE 6, too, he said, pointing out that some U.K. government browser users can't use some parts of the government's own site because the older browser isn't up to the task. Because of the development difficulties, his firm now will charge extra for IE 6 work.
"If someone wants to be old-fashioned and reckons all their customers or stakeholders are too, then they need to pay for the extra time it takes to make their site IE 6-compatible," Frydman said. "With Microsoft themselves saying [IE 6] end of life has been put back...to July 4, 2014, it was time to make a stand."