mPulse

Friday, May 1, 2009

Browser Wars: Why Internet Explorer 6 Still Exists

At CNet News today, the article What browser wars? The enterprise still loves IE 6 nicely sums all the reasons that Internet Explorer 6 is still in use in enterprise environments. The dominance of Internet Explorer 6 in the workplace is something I discussed a few days ago, supported by the pattern of higher weekday use of this browser during the work-week.

Limiting employees to a browser that is considered an ancient technology by Web developers poses an interesting dichotomy to companies. Internally, they are powering their internal applications with coal and steam, and turning the cogs of business with leather drive-belts. Externally, the customers get to see a site that is shiny, one that has all the gadgets of a rich-Internet application that require the computationally advanced capabilities of a modern browsers.

To some extent, the companies who use Internet Explorer 6 internally are saying to their employees that the Internet is simply another desktop application that they must use.

I am firm believer that the Web will be the home of many of the applications we use on a daily basis in the very near future [here and here]. My vision of this is that the Web application is designed to free the user, and lessen the workload for IT departments.

Most organizations continue to see the Internet as a negative, a threat to productivity, a necessary evil. So if they restrict their employees and provide them with a browser that doesn't quite work properly on the Internet, they still have ultimate control.

I have had the benefit of working for organizations throughout my professional career that did (do) not limit my choice of browser or operating system, allowing me to find my own preference. I realize that this is rare in corporate Industrial Culture, and I consider myself lucky.

So, why is their still a need for Internet Explorer 6? Frankly, there is really no need for it in my opinion, and the CNet News article has a table from Forrester that supports that. That doesn't mean that my browser idealism and utopian dream of "may the best browser win" will hold any sway over the IT decision makers in large organizations.

StatCounter still shows that during the week, Internet Explorer 6 holds 12% of the browser share in the US [here]. So, will this 12% of the browser world hold back the promise of the Internet for the rest of us?

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