The problem is that a few years ago Microsoft pushed Windows Genuine Advantage updates automatically via Windows Update (they might even have done this twice), with the result that all those pirated versions of XP turned off Windows Update forever and never installing anything from microsoft.com.
You're criticizing MS for not pushing updates to pirated versions of their software?
The marginal cost of sending updates to pirated machines is probably negligible, and pirates adapted to WGA within a couple weeks.
So – they managed to convert a few Western users who didn't know they were running a pirated copy. I would place a good bet that the total volume of pirated licenses remained the same, though.
More recent experiments have shown that piracy is really more about customer service than straight up cost . As a result, we have large hordes of unpatched machines that are easy to convert into zombies and running outdated software the rest of us have to support.
Do we really, though? If the boxes running IE6 are in Asia and elsewhere in the developing world, how many of us really need to develop for them? I can't think of many websites that need to cater to Chinese pirates.
Why would you support outdated software only used by pirates? Just don't support it to force the pirates to update.
I regularly pay for stuff on the internet (domains, hosting, invoicing apps, ios apps, etc. etc.) as long as Paypal is supported (we cannot use credit cards to make international payments).
You need to support as many people as possible with your webapp, you never know who your customer is.
I know our competition works the same way, as does pretty much the whole government services sector. That's a few million employees in the U.S. alone.
Anyway, there's enough non-IE6 work to do that I generally refuse to write any IE6 code (and when I do, I don't spend more than a minute or two copy-pasting some conditional comment found via Google.)
Why a Motorola Razr instead of an iPhone 4S? Because the latter didn't exist. When IE6 came out more than a decade ago, it was the absolute best browser available. In 2004 when XP SP2 came out, it cleaned up a lot of reliability and security issues. You just have to look at IE6 with a 2001-based lens and realize what the alternatives were at the time.
IE6 was good enough to become the standard for slow-moving corporate types, and they're sticking with it. The every-few-weeks upgrades of Chrome and (now) Firefox are way too fast for them.
A lot of these big companies will stay with IE6 till the bitter end in 2014, when free XP support (security patches) goes away. I wouldn't put it past some of them to pay for XP support rather than switch to another OS, or to negotiate extended XP support into their Microsoft upgrade contracts.
This survey from 2007 (I know it's old now) showed 55.2% of corporations used IE6. I'm pretty sure it is one of the sources of the "big companies use IE6" claim. http://www.dailytech.com/Firefox+Makes+Big+Gains+In+Business...
And here's a newer poll showing 29% of respondents use IE6 at work with "no end in sight" http://www.readwriteweb.com/enterprise/2011/03/it-poll-do-yo...
What I have found is that the IT guys in China compile many "recovery disk" with a pirated copy of Windows that people use to reinstall their OS. A lot of these disks are XP-based, but more people are running Window 7 now.
Lastly, several Chinese companies have developed their own version of browsers. I haven't really looked into what kind of rendering engine they run, but they appear to be some kind of rebranded IE. Does anyone have the scoop on this?
Still, new consumer machines often have Windows 7 installed, from what I've seen, so things are moving forward. I don't have any numbers though.
I did see Chrome installed as well so that might be their solution :)
IE 6 holds a 1% market share in the US. How many corporations in the US are mandating IE 6 if it's only got a 1% market share?
You'll also note that IE 6 has a nearly 28% market share in China. Now, this doesn't say that these are pirated installs, but they are obviously XP or older, and this is clearly where the bulk of IE 6 market share is.
If you rarely or never go on the actual internet, the fact that you're using an old browser doesn't matter any more than if you're using an old native program to do the same things.
Of course, there is still the issue of people who do go on the internet but don't visit any of the sites that actually track these statistics; however, I don't know how much of an issue this is because I don't know which sites do the tracking.
>IE 6 holds a 1% market share in the US. How many corporations in the US are mandating IE 6 if it's only got a 1% market share?
While the points you've made are valid they are irreverent to the discussion at hand.
So, as long as there is a way to opt out, I imagine there are a lot of corporate folks who will do so.
There's a reason companies can't upgrade from IE6 without a significant cost, and it is usually one of the following:
1) The company has lost the sourcecode, and the original engineers have left.
2) The company doesn't even have the source code, and has no rights to modify the application.
3) The application is vendor-supplied, and said vendor requires a large cash payment to make the 'custom' change.
4) The application is vendor-supplied and the vendor refuses to support IE6 in the version of their application that the company have deployed. Their new, super expensive version does support more browsers.
5) The company has little control over their IT. Their business depends on a thousand tiny applications built by countless different parties of varying ability. Simply auditing the whole mess is too costly.
So lots of companies take the easy (and cheap) route out and
decide to stick with an ancient browser.
Updating using Windows Update is the biggest pain in the ass, and it's great to see a much more convenient solution.
On one hand, you're right: big corporate will block this, and that will limit the impact, and thus I think a lot of the hallelujah in this thread is over-optimistic. But MS would never force such consequential upgrades on those customers; that's part of why MS owned and still owns the "enterprise" market (decreasingly lucrative though it may be).
On the other hand, I doubt that consumer adoption driving sites to drop support for IE6 will have any substantial impact on what megacorps decide to deploy.
One of the things that really blew my mind this year was a large ($40MM) software development project I became familiar with (a worldwide internal system for a multinational corporation) that concluded -- in 2011 -- and required MSIE 6. MSIE 6! Doesn't even run on MSIE 7, much less any modern browser.
While I personally think that's insane -- if you are that specific (not to mention antiquated) with your browser requirements, why don't you just code a native app? -- I've also never developed software with a team larger than five, and certainly don't know the nitty-gritty details about spreading the work over a dozen countries and hundreds of developers, the vast majority being low-cost Chinese and Indian coders. So I'm not judging (or at least I'm trying not to).
But my point is that Big Corporate just wants their freaky "web-based" apps to run predictably for the projected 6-year deployment timeframe and does not give one flying fuck about whether their staff can access the new hip and way-superior version of <ANY OTHER WEB APP ON EARTH>. Unless said had real business value to large enterprise, but then, if it did... it would probably support MSIE6.
So while this news is welcome, it's still unlikely that the computing capabilities of the typical large-company locked-down employee PC are going to become awesome, or even good. Even MSIE8, while way better than 6, still isn't something you jump for joy having to develop for.
This matters less and less, though, as the percentage of people who have a way more capable browser in in their pocket increases. So I think that it is starting to make a lot more sense to give up on corporate machines and dead-end legacy browsers, and instead spend that effort on scaling your app's interface to smaller form factors.
(Disclaimer: that's what I think, but not what I actually do. I work on web-based software for medium-sized businesses, so I don't have to worry much about what browser users happen to have. In this context, you can have requirements, and I tend to just say, 'In order to decrease development costs, the system requires the Google Chrome browser. But don't worry: it's free, secure, cross-platform, and has become the dominant web technology standard.' That last part is a bit of customer-reassurance hyperbole, but so far, no problems. (And of course the same code typically works fine on Safari if there's an iOS requirement.))
This happens all the time at the hospital I work at. I'm constantly flummoxed by how behind the times software vendors consistently are. We're still stuck on XP for the foreseeable future because some of our vendors are still pushing updates that are totally incompatible with NT6 with no timeline for when it might work.
They've had half a decade to fix their software, and they just aren't doing it. I understand that Enterprise moves slowly, but you eventually reach a point of absurdity, as well.
We actually ship customers a custom build of Chromium which can only access our application (hospital policy generally dictates they must use IE to access the internet for "security" reasons) - we would love them to just use modern browsers so we can ditch our custom client but it doesn't look like it's going to happen any time soon :-(
Note that this doesn't mean they were actually going to start deploying it. It just meant that they were open to the idea of doing so. I'd be surprised if they'd actually upgraded any machines yet.
It's kind of sad that you'll only modernize when you'll no longer get paid. You'd think improving efficiency would be motive for modernization, but I guess not.
You're either busy growing or you're busy dying. As a potential shareholder, I care more about growth than straight up profitability.
This is extremely simplistic MBA talk.
Look at Apple. iPod -> iPhone -> iPad.
If I invest 100 dollars in you, I want to receive a percentage back after a certain while. You need to be able to give me 103 dollars back the next year just to beat inflation, i.e. for this to not have been a complete waste of my time.
In real terms, this means you need to grow your business by at least 3% in order to give me that return.
I'm not the right person to talk about this, as my knowledge is thin and my metaphors are poor, but even if you're the sole owner you start to lose money if you don't grow at a reliable rate.
It's entirely possible for a business to give investors good returns even if their business or market isn't growing. Profitability and cash returns from a business can grow as revenues decline if the company either increases operating efficiency, or reduces in investment in recognition of the declining opportunity. MBAs would call this a "cash cow" business - one that should be milked.
We dont tend to see this much in tech because growth is such a fundamental part of our valuations that no company is willing to admit it's in such a position. And you'd probably lose all your engineers over time. But when you look at say, Microsoft, and strip away their non-performing businesses, that's what it looks like: a company that has some assets that produce a lot of profits, but aren't really growing any more, yet if managed properly can continue to throw off gobs of cash for years to come.
>Profitability and cash returns from a business can grow as revenues decline if the company either increases operating efficiency, or reduces in investment in recognition of the declining opportunity.
Sure. When I say growth, I mean "make more money this year than you did the year before". This doesn't directly translate into "make more widgets", of course – that's just the (in an ideal world) easiest and least complicated way of achieving that.
>yet if managed properly can continue to throw off gobs of cash for years to come.
Until! It dies ;0.
If I understand tomkarlo's point correctly, he's saying that you don't have to make more money year to year in order to have a viable business. Rather, you simply need to keep expenses low enough to manage a respectable profit for your investors. That profit need not necessarily grow year to year for investors to find it worth holding.
Of course, valuations will be made completely differently for such a company, but that doesn't mean they can't exist.
In almost any definition "growing a business" means increasing unit sales, or increasing revenues, or both.
Neither is necessary to provide acceptable returns to an investor - there are great investments around in businesses that have long since peaked in terms of unit volume and revenue. Much of the private equity world focuses on these kinds of investments.
Duly noted. I was using it as a catch all for "make more profit than the year previous".
> In real terms, this means you need to grow your business by at least 3% in order to give me that return.
Suppose you want 3%.
You give me $100 and I buy $100 worth of goods which I then sell for $106. I give you $3 (there's your 3%), keep $3. That leave me with $100 to buy goods to do it all again.
Note that this biz doesn't grow at all but it can throw off 3% as long as I can keep buying at $100 and selling at $106.
What about inflation you say? Multiply all the numbers after the initial $100 by your inflation factor the first year and use the updated numbers (and your inflation factor) each subsequent year.
Really, your sentiment is reminiscent of the dot-com refrain of 'get big or go home'. Those were the true champions of growth-as-profit (and it sure turned out well for them)
Actually you don't "need" anything. There are tons of examples of profitable companies that do one thing / product, or several things / products and do it for a century or more, with thousands of employees that do not look to expand on other markets. Even more so for companies with less employees.
"""If I invest 100 dollars in you, I want to receive a percentage back after a certain while. You need to be able to give me 103 dollars back the next year just to beat inflation, i.e. for this to not have been a complete waste of my time."""
Yeah, that's why the stock market promotes cancerous growth of companies.
>Yeah, that's why the stock market promotes cancerous growth of companies.
I have troubles with this sometimes. I lie awake at night and think about the little I know about finance and economics and I wonder - is this all a zero sum interaction? Abstractly, the earth is a closed system, right?
Of course, value and money are also abstractions and so aren't directly pegged to any physical constants, so maybe in real terms it doesn't matter either.
Anyhow, my understanding is that the narrative I used above works for stock markets and single shareholder companies.
I have a fixed amount of hours/year to invest in my company/enterprise. Let's suppose it's profitable and yields oh 250k in profit/direct wages to you, the single shareholder.
If your total amount of profit remains constant, you're losing money just via diminished purchasing power. Your employees will demand raises, which means you have to raise prices and/or squeeze more productivity out of your company, yadda yadda yadda. If you don't keep growing… you end up finding yourself in a position where you will begin to contract, and it's easier to go down than to go up.
No, the amount of value in the world is not fixed [eg, 1].
 http://www.paulgraham.com/wealth.html ("The Pie Fallacy")
I don't mean boning up on company reports (though the ability to read and understand them is a good life skill) but rather truly trying to understand what money is, what it means, why so many apparent paradoxes exist.
To wit; wealth is not a zero sum game. Hard numbers like valuations come about just from an agreement at a point in time, which are just the opinions of two people at a flash in history. Even the value of a dollar in your wallet is a massively volatile thing in terms of what you can purchase with it.
A good jumping off point is Niall Fergusons 'The History of Money' (book or video). Get through that and then decide which of the sub-themes you want to delve into further.
It's the clearest explanation of this I've heard in a long time. However it's a bit long and deep, if you want an essay length version of the argument, it is here:
Well, clothing and accessory companies, restaurant chains, publishing houses, film studios, etc, even software houses (has EA made anything else than games --anything substantial to their bottom line, that is?).
But don't think brand names. Think of the tons of companies we don't necessarily know by name, but exist and serve their markets: construction companies, package delivery companies, etc.
I am persuaded by some of the recent arguments (John Siracusa's maybe?) that both the innovation and the money in general-purpose computing industry have moved over to the consumer side of the equation, and that this change has put MS in a worse position than they've traditionally been in.
Dominating corporate computing (for soooo fucking loooong) made MS billions and billions, but it also held back their two products, Windows and Office.
They couldn't ditch compatibility, they couldn't make disruptive moves, they needed to pre-announce their roadmap... and also, I'd guess that they probably just didn't see the business-to-consumer weight shift coming, just as they didn't see the Internet coming until it ran them over. (Neither did any of their peers, though -- Apple still had their own branded AOL-clone at a late stage, what was it, eWorld? The Internet ran over everybody as the 80s turned into the 90s. And MS is itself one of those hidebound big corporations; it's natural for those organisms to be slow.)
Anyway my point is that megacorps actually want a pretty limited computing product, compared to consumers. Barring esoteric business needs, they don't need, or even want, their employees to be able to, say, shoot HD video, make unlimited anonymous video calls to anybody in the world, track themselves jogging with accelerometers and GPS, play Angry Birds, and so forth. In general, megacorps want cheap, reliable, slow-moving tools that match their slow-moving planning and frankly limited needs. And did I mention cheap. Cheap.
Back when a PC cost as much as a used car, business purchasing drove the industry. But the human spirit and Moore's law went marching on, and in recent years we have a variety of desktop, laptop,and pocket phone/computers that not only outperform those used-car PCs of yesteryear, but may also feature wireless and nationwide magical Internet connections, ones much faster than the 128K ISDN-line that cost me 40,000 yen per month in the 90s.
So now you can buy a pretty kickass computer--one that fits in your pocket, or handbag, or backpack, whatever you prefer--for the price of like, two steak dinners with a date. (Maybe three or four for the macbook air.)
Cost-conscious companies with big headcounts don't need any of that good shit. So they end up with, say, a fleet of Dell Vostro 620S desktop PCs with 4GB RAM, archaic spinning-platter HDDs, and Windows 7 Pro (or XP still, if they are on a volume license (which they totally are)). So we're talking about $700 with a shitty Dell monitor. 3-4 year deployment life. MS'll make whatever percentage of that, plus a bit on the Office they'll probably use, but that's it for that duration.
Meanwhile, a guy and his wife will drop eight times that on smartphones over the same duration. iPhone, Nexus, Galaxy, whatever. (But yeah, mostly iPhone.) Or a tablet of some kind.
Because they want all that good new shit, and it's no longer so expensive that they can't have it.
So consumers, wow what a shitty word, okay I mean 'people doing their own things and living their lives' -- let's call them PEOPLE for short -- can now afford computers. Waitresses, stadium hot-dog boys, tax drivers, high-school students. That was not so much the case when MS started to achieve hegemony.
Back then, not only could PEOPLE much less frequently afford computers, but also computers weren't nearly as capable of doing the cool shit that PEOPLE are actually interested in. PEOPLE want to do cool shit, not just do some boring-ass work. Video mashups, GPS flash mobs, music buying, music bootlegging, angry birds, porn, cold fusion, etc.
Therefore, the companies aimed at PEOPLE are the ones who are, and have been for a while, making the more ground-breaking and innovative products. Lighter, simpler, more sensors, more stable, brand new re-architected OS software. The PEOPLE are the ones recently pushing the limits in computing. Demanding new, ground-breaking products. Rewarding innovation.
Computers were prohibitively expensive. But now they're not.
Computers used to not be able to do cool shit. Now they can.
So even if the ENTERPRISE market is still bigger overall in terms of units, ENTERPRISE wants shittier products, updated less frequently, for less money. That's what MS has provided over the past decade (with the exception of the less money part, har har).
Microsoft's products met those needs, but at the cost of tying MS to that legacy, and thwarting their ability to compete for the faster-evolving PEOPLE market, arguably now more important.
They are now trying to reinvent themselves. With Windows Phone surely, and it seems they are trying to make a break with the past even with Windows 8, though they are understandably halting in their efforts, loathe to disturb the waning cash cow. But serving the PEOPLE and serving the ENTERPRISE increasingly seem to be mutually exclusive. PEOPLE want new, awesome, fast, again! ENTERPRISE has different priorities. So MS has its internal schizophrenia. And no success on that front so far.
I didn't mean that the enterprise market was becoming less lucrative for everybody, although relative to the consumer market, it probably is. I meant that for Microsoft specifically their dominance of the enterprise over the past 15+ years has been milked for everything it is worth and has now become a hindrance to them, keeping them stuck in a narrowing rut.
I don’t dispute either of these statements. I share the observation that price is the number one concern of those who don’t understand technology and that there’s a lot of money to be made in that space. But what to you think enables both of those statements to be true?
Is it that developers are able to con technophobes into contracts and processes that appear cheap but ultimately end up costing them more? Or, perhaps technophobes actively demand things that lead to that situation e.g. waterfall. Or some other possibility?
They pretty much have. They are probably using VBScript for event handling and depending on various IE6 behaviors that are no longer supported in current versions of IE and never were available on other browsers. They've written a "native" app for the IE 5/6 platform.
It sounds like that's exactly what they did,
They just hosted most of the code on a server. It's kind of like the "native" iOS apps that just use a webview component to display a web app. Sticking with IE6 just means you have all the hassle of a native app (like needing to make sure IE6 gets installed and stays installed on every machine) with none of the benefits.
Almost as easy as CICS. ;-)
// ok - just to head off all the switch testing, books, etc. comments - none of those are options. certification testing sites are kinda non-negotiable
There's not really a very good alternative to this-- Firefox has a history of breaking it's extension model with every major version, and Chrome is still in relative infancy (though I personally use it every day), so I think it's understandable that "enterprise" software companies haven't rushed to ditch IE for them.
It won't, if my experience is anything to go by.
I believe most of the 'IE6 only' apps are not 'on the internet' but in-house only applications.
Ours certainly are.
Waiting for five or ten minutes for a failed Adobe Flash update to try and load (fails since I am not a desktop admin) each time I reboot or power on and then a full two minutes for Outlook to start is not fun thing to do every day.
No thanks to our outsourced IT to a three letter company.
Patiently waits to see browser usage trends once this rolls out...
This answer doesn't seem to carry much weight if Firefox and Chrome can do these things and still remain secure.
Btw, running that forward, everyone fast learns to slow down, and the slow ones aren't pulled ahead as much.
Either way, it's good to finally see them moving forward.
XPsp3 drops off extended support in April 2014 (see http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?ln=en-gb&c2=1173 for detail) at which point it will get no new security updates unless you are a company that can afford to pay for them to be done (and if you did need to try that, it would no doubt be very expensive).
It is highly unlikely that the large companies (who are the main bodies holding on to XP and IE6) will allow themselves to still be using XP or IE6 beyond that point.
Unfortunately IE8 will work on Vista and 7, so I can see some corporates upgrading to IE8 and no further for now. The lifecycle lookup chart at MS (http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifeselectindex) doesn't list dates for IE7 or IE8. Assuming that IE8's support window is tied to Windows 7 the same way IE6 and XPsp3 were tied for support purposes (as W7 was delivered with IE8 installed), they'll be able to use IE8 under Windows 7 until 2020 (http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=14482) if they are stupid enough to try.
And in my opinion, the bigger problem with IE6 was that it was buggy -- both where it purportedly followed standards and where it had its own way of doing things, behavior often didn't match spec or had unexpected side effects. It took devs years of trying to figure out where all the bodies were buried before everybody understood how it worked.
it's worth looking a few years ahead if IE8 will have another decade of popularity, which isn't impossible. Even without that longevity, the hindrance of the installed base of IE7 and 8 will grow over the next couple of years.
We know what IE10 will have, and roughly when, since it's part of the win8 plans.
I would go with very slow. Faster than IE6, but not by nearly as much as more modern browsers are faster than it. DOM manipulation is very slow compared to more modern browsers (recent versions of Chrome, FF, Opera, ..., even IE9) too. DOM changes being slow is what you'll notice more with most code.
As an aside: make sure you set X-UA-Compatible (see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc288325%28VS.85%29....) otherwise you'll have no idea if people looking at your stuff in IE8 are using compatability mode or not.
Though IIRC the sunspider test is all javascipt processing and no DOM manipulation, so perhaps the fact I pecieve IE8 as not being that much faster may mean that its DOM layer is the bottleneck I'm experiencing. Not unlikely as I don't currently do large amounts of nmuber-crunching and text processing in anything I have to test under IE.
But it is a huge step up from IE6 so if a large chunk of those people suddenly find themselves at IE8 then the world will be better for it.
I wish MS would go back and try to update the IE8 render engine so that it can use some of the newer standards of IE9 or even IE10.
Yes it would be a bit bloated, but the default install would probably be the one that just ran the latest version.
But as users, creators of highly customized workstations and rabid fans of particular development environments, doesn't it bother anybody but me, that the browser choice has been hijacked?
Sure, its just stupid Windows users, they don't care. Is that it?
Every IE UI is different, and they seem to be spiralling down is usability. I'm particular about optimizing my own time and changing UI to suit Microsoft's agenda is definitely going to piss me off.
Chrome follows the same model, which is what I use, and I prefer it. So, I think it's a good idea, and not because Windows users are "stupid."
If you want to customize it you run Linux, simple as that.
There are prices and trade-of for all platforms. I run on them all I accept that Windows is a walled garden. I should not expect my things to stay as they are.
Not just the number of elements that we have to support, but the sheer amount of time spent in trying to emulate and workaround severe limitations of previous versions, which easily added up to a significant portion of development time.
>> that the browser choice has been hijacked?
To me the browser choice should be between brands not builds.
When you choose to keep an out-of-date version around, you are actively halting the innovation pace for the web.
Old browser versions have been a detriment to web development for years. This is definitely a step in the right direction.
In my current experience, there are very few IE6 installations left in these corporates. There are some IE7, and a whole lot of IE8.
Should the headline read "Microsoft decides to automatically update Internet Explorer for everyone ... except most of them" ?
There's something about this that really bothers me, maybe someone can better clarify.
Why are admins enforcing a policy that leaves the company target to just about every possible security hole that has been fixed in the past 20 years?
Is there a valid reason for this that I'm unaware of?
Other companies have a long(!) cycle when evaluating new software releases. I have heard of an insurance provider that rolled out IE7 just this year.
At first, a few years ago, it was because there was one specific update that broke our Oracle software, so everything got turned off. Now, we keep them off because of inertia. We started pushing out selected security updates in the last few months because the security folks insisted.
Oddly, it's our policy to install the full set of updates (except IE8) to all machines that have issues. We also update our images with all the latest stuff from Microsoft Updates.
On the same note, it literally pisses me off how companies decide to intervene with my software installation. Allowing an "opt-out" is worth as much as Google allowing me to opt out of mapping my access point by renaming it.
We are observing a notable shift where personal(!) computers and devices are being turned into consumer devices that we have no control over. Not to speak about the privacy related side effects.
Please, please, please let there soon be a pro-version of Linux on the desktop before the support cycle of Snow Leopard runs out.
I was so hoping for IE9 on XP as part of this process...
Thank goodness that there is a strong traction behind HTML5 stack, and the industry as a whole is less reliant on Flash to deliver good UX.
Without Flash, the capability of these older browsers will be reduced, and I'm sure they will get abandoned at an even higher rate.
The only people still using it are unable to upgrade for some reason besides laziness and inertia.
Perhaps staying on proprietary, native platforms that don't change as often is their best course in the future.
Maybe IE10 and up. Maybe.
You can still opt out.
Of course if you do that, we may end up pushing Chrome Frame on you, through an exploit (I would, if it wasn't illegal).
Fuck MS for forcing us to deal with their crap.