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Kogan imposes a tax on IE7 shoppers (lifehacker.com.au)
360 points by nathanhoad 2009 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 146 comments

I doubt their userbase using IE7 is large enough for this to be a big deal. This tax's real goal is PR for Kogan.

Maybe not for Kogan, but most of the DOD is still on IE6, as an example that is something like 2 million daily users.

Uber large business and government is were the users are hiding. The reason the numbers are still off is because those same users are using chrome at there house in the evening.

There should be a business only metric for browser usage. That would be very interesting.

> Maybe not for Kogan, but most of the DOD is still on IE6, as an example that is something like 2 million daily users.

With each passing day, this statement made less and less sense to a point of absurd. And that point has been reached a long time ago.

I work for Department of Interior (the armpit when compared to DOD) and here its either fully patched IE8, latest Firefox or you are booted off of network. Can DOD be really that archaic and still allow employees to browse wild wild web with IE6?

It's certainly not the entire DoD. Firefox is explicitly supported on most new sites, with specialized plugins available that simplify security setup (install certs, CAC access).

I am not part of the DoD, but as I understand it a lot of entrenched usage of IE6 these days is usually internal apps. So, perhaps they use IE6 for private networks, and use IE8, Firefox, et al for public-facing workstations.

But IE6 won't even run on new versions of Windows. You'd need to run up a VM on a user's machine with a copy of XP.

What's the refresh cycle at DoD? Two decades?

If you have thousands of machines running an OS that works perfectly well for your purposes, then you only upgrade when support lapses, which is 2014 in this case.

I'm not buying it. This is the reason always given, and in real life I've not come across this as the actual reason. 99% of the time it is lack of staff and will not lack of "We don't know how to make the adjustments to make it work."

I've also seen universities with faculty and staff still using IE7 not because of infrastructure requirements, but just because nobody had come around to upgrade because they hadn't bitched loudly enough.

What's the difference? There's no compelling business reason to upgrade.

So, you just keep using XP.

They probably have internal interfaces that aren't forward compatible, and re-factoring anything inside the DoD has got to be stupid expensive.

I don't know the internals of the DOD, but I bet that it's not too much for the costs (that doesn't seem to be a big problem there), but the human resources being used in other priorities.

At the large research university I work at in a lab, almost all of the computers run XP, and a few even run Windows 2000. Is it frustrating to use IE6 on the Windows 2000 computer? Yes. However, the software for the old equipment we have is designed for Windows 2000, and most likely will never be upgraded, for lack of support for newer OSs. I don't think (anecdotal evidence) that a 10-15 year refresh cycle is absurd on some machines. That being said, for the entire DoD to not at least update some of their workstations is a little incredible.

IE6 isn't the only XP-only app I have to use in my daily job, so it's entirely feasible that members of the DoD are still using XP.

I'm working on a project for a major bank here in the UK, one of the requirements of IE6 and no Javascript. Seriously. It's anal. But it's how their system runs internally, so for management to be able to "test" the new site it needs to work in IE6.

What I don't understand is the bank should be promoting use of latest technology. If your online account was robbed of all it's money and they found out yuo are using IE6 (with all its security flaws) what's the likelihood they try to say it was your own fault?

I don't know about the rest of the DoD, but I know that most of the fire brigades on Marine Corps and Army bases are using IE7 or Firefox.

But I don't think their CAC-managed systems allow them access to the web at large.

No, DoD switched from IE6 several years ago.

I've seen some numbers that are nearly all business users. They've actually improved considerably in the last year or two. IE6 was quite common in certain sectors like government, finance, healthcare, (see if you can guess what those industries have in common) but in late 2010 and early 2011 people finally really started upgrading either to newer versions of IE or, surprisingly, Firefox.

IE6 use (even among business) is extremely rare right now. Which makes sense, because very few websites would actually work.

I would imagine the proportion of DOD users going to an Australia electronics shopping site would be 0.0000000001% of Kogan's total user base.

I suspect your estimate is off by a few orders of magnitude. Unless Kogan's user base is larger than the total population of Earth (I know you're out there), then even one of them from the DoD would represent 0.000000014%.

Many government offices now have firefox too. Not sure about the ones with higher security concerns, but I know the normal security places have FF.

And to be fair, the divisions in which we're talking about high levels of security aren't using those browsers on the internet anyway, they're locked away in SCIFFs, accessing internal-only applications.

"Uber large business and government is were the users are hiding"

Agreed. About 1/3 of our users - all of whom are insurers or brokers - use IR7

Ford Motor Company as of a year ago was 100% IE 6. There was talk of change, but all the internal apps only work in IE 6.

It's not just large businesses. About 1/3 of our users use IE7, although thankfully there's hardly anyone still on IE6. About 1/2 are still on XP (NT 5.1). Some of these are small companies with <10 employees.

Don't forget third-world countries that largely rely on XP. IIRC as of about a year ago, a double-digit percentage of asia was still on XP.

A double digit percentage overall is still on XP: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_operating_system...

For one of our clients they had 100k+ hits from IE6/7 alone in the last 30 days. It's not that uncommon a browser, no matter how much it should be.

It's about converting one IE7 user at a time.

Either way, I bet the developers had fun with this feature.

As a developer supporting IE7, I definitely see this feature as a powerful release valve for frustrated developer. A little way of management to say to the dev team, "we understand your pain"

Kogan seem to be very good at attracting attention like this.

I did not even open the post, and did not know what Kogan is: I just looked at the title of the post on HN and said to myself: What a great PR idea!

I work for a site which gets a lot of traffic from mainstream Australia (ie we're not in the tech space).

We still get a significant amount of traffic from IE7.

Can't it be both?

True enough. But how many hours of life has ie sucked from developers? I mean ms purposefully held back the development of multiple internet standards, they deserve what they get imho, ideals or not.

If you are a good front developer then fixing ie7 issues shouldn't be an issue or take you long to fix!

For html5 use the html5 boiler plate and ensure your code validates. Also do not use floats to position everything, only elements that need to flow with the contents of the document. Use position absolute for elements that are static and of course in the block that holds said elements add position relative. Using too many floats is bound to make you hating ie7 even more.

I think you're missing the point. We're all tired of making one version for normal browsers and a bunch of special fixes for six year old browsers nobody should be using anymore. We're all tired of having to constrain the development techniques we use to make it easy to support six year old browsers nobody should be using anymore. We're all tired of thinking about six year old browsers nobody should be using anymore.

This. it also makes doing things that were not thought of in 2000 nearly impossible. popovers , css3, JavaScript, And animAtion libraries all have problems. its not just a bunch of zoom 1 fixes anymore. the web has moved on. display bugs are not the only problem

At Lexity we bounced everybody who wasn't using IE8 or better to a page that showed them how to upgrade, and specifically encouraged Chrome Frame for those who were stuck with IE6 or IE7. This was very simple to do; all it took was a few conditional comments:


I can understand why you make the requirements for your app very clear.

I cannot understand why you'd chose to bounce potential customers from your website based on their browser. Isn't this just you failing to provide information to people who have made an effort to contact you and ask for it?

I ask this next question gently: Have you checked you're not bouncing people using assistive technology?

Speaking only on my own behalf and not as part of Lexity, for whom I no longer work, I'd have to say that I'm fine with the risk of losing business from people who are unwilling or unable to update from a seven-year-old browser, "assistive" or not.

Sorry to sound short about this, but it's the same sort of thing that happens when a road turns into a freeway. For everyone's safety, you don't get to ride your bicycle.

The OP means "assistive" as in "tools used by people who are disabled". It's not a choice to be blind.

What is the relationship between "assistive technology" and "old browser"? It would surprise me if that tech was only available for IE7.

The apps they use probably have a web browser embedded in them. They may not have 5k for a brand new version

No... generally its software like JAWS (http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/jaws-product-pa...) that runs on stock windows.

No special hardware running antiquated hardware, just a stock windows system.

While I don't doubt there are solutions with a web browser embedded in them, the refresh cycle on such hardware is so old that people have moved off them on to more "generic" solutions a while ago.

I'd be very curious as to which apps these are. Eventually, they'll be left in the cold regardless. In at least two years time there will hopefully be nobody supporting IE6!

Bob sells software. To run that software Ann needs X, Y, and Z.

When Bob tells Ann that she must have X, Y, and Z to run the software he is giving her important information. When Bob tells Ann (who is blind, or deaf, or has a motor-control disability (or just likes the software she uses), but who also buys the software her engineers use) that she cannot get information about the product that he sells because she uses the "wrong browser" Bob is being stupid.

You might not like the fact that people use different computers and different operating systems and different browsers and different settings on those browsers. You may not like the fact that WWW was an attempt to solve compatibility problems across those variety of systems.

But if you are trying to sell me something, and I visit your website to get information about what you are selling, and you tell me that I'm using the wrong browser to get that information - well, I'm probably not going to spend my money with you. This is especially true if the information you're giving is trivially easy to give as text with a few diagrams (and even diagrams can usually go with good alt and longdesc attributes.). That was available in HTML 1.x[1] I understand the desire to give everything sliding transitions and round corners and shiny overlays and etc. I understand that CSS and correct design help impart meaning that isn't available in plain text.[2] But it is incredibly frustrating to be told that you cannot get simple information because you're not using what someone else thinks you should be using.

Remember that it is trivially easy for me to use the browser you want me to use, on the the OS you want me to use, on the computer you want me to use[3] and yet still totally destroy the design by increasing the font size. People used to specify font sizes. Most people know realise that's a stupid idea. (Imagine a TV station that broadcast a programme at a fixed volume, overriding the viewer's tv volume control. You'd call that station stupid.)

[1] (http://1997.webhistory.org/www.lists/www-talk.1993q1/0182.ht...)

[1] (http://www.alanflavell.org.uk/alt/alt-text.html#howlers)

[1] (http://www.alanflavell.org.uk/alt/)

[2] A List Apart used to have a nice page about this, but I can't find it at the moment.

[3] Baffling that people say that a 1 GHz machine with 256 MB ram is insufficient power to browse a website, but people do say that. And not forgetting that IE on Mac used to be created by a completely different team to IE on Windows. God knows who the poor souls who did IE on Unix were. See also the unreasonable bandwidth requirements for many websites. Sure, do what you like for fun, but again if I'm buying something from you I want a quick responsive website even if I'm on a stupid slow Australian link, or on some dial-up in the US (which is still surprisingly common) or if I'm using my mobile broadband dongle on a train, with a poor signal.

This all sounds nice and reasonable, until you realize that these companies have to pay people to actually make it work in a browser that's 10 years old. Their website is a product, and they can choose who to offer it to. This is like complaining that this android app won't work on your 10 year old dumbphone.

Yes, it sucks that some screen reading software depends on outdated browsers, but the fault lies at the manufacturers of that software, not every single website designer in the world. IE7 doesn't work, even for simple layouts, it doesn't work. Furthermore, it's insecure. Maybe they didn't want their customers accounts being compromised because they use an insecure browser, and then have to hire more people to take care of that person who lost their account becuase they're using software a decade old. I don't go into a store expecting to be able to still buy heroin as my cough medicine of choice, either.

Why should everyone have to pay money to make stuff work in outdated software because the screen reader company refuses to pay money to make their software work with anything but outdated software? Why make compromises and waste time when implementing a new feature because it might screw up the viewing experience in your decade old browser? Why support that browser at all, giving people the impression the site is broken, and not their browser?

Key phrase, there: "it's insecure." Dreadfully so, and by encouraging its use, we keep the Internet unsafe for everyone.

Still waiting for someone to tell me exactly which brand of "assistive technology" absolutely requires IE<8, and why Chrome Frame can't fix it.

Have you gone to the site in question? I agree with DanBC, however I don't expect you to fully support all users if you don't want to, that's your perogative, you know your customer base better that we do so it's for you to decide what browsers and technology set you want to support.

I think what DanBC is saying is if you are not going to support something, then tell the user why and they need. The user gets redirected to http://lexity.com/aiee.html which if you visit in IE6 or 7 puts you in an infinite loop... works fine in browsers that actually the site actually supports, kinda ironic.

Whoops, I need to let those guys know that aiee is broken. Thanks!

"IE7 doesn't work, even for simple layouts, it doesn't work."

What in the world are you talking about?

From this I get 1. A server side developer (C#/Java/PHP/Whatever) trying to be a HTML designer 2. A n00b HTML designer that's not been around long enough to know the different IE box models and workarounds needed.

I'd guess 2. You can get most layouts to work in IE7, and with a lot of effort, IE6 even. Agree on the security aspect, but bear in mind that the majority of home users probably have Windows Auto Updates on so they should be running IE8 (I know IE7 was a forced update for XP users, not sure if IE8 is...) So that means either a user has turned off auto updates, OR mroe likely it is a business with policies in place.

There's nothing on that lexity site (at least from the demo) that couldn't be coded to work in IE7 with an conditional css include.

Okay, sorry. Yeah obviously layouts will work, if you make them work. But that's the point, you have to make them work. IE has a weird box model, haslayout, buggy float handling, etc.

Of course it's possible to make things work, in case of a simple layout, most of the time not even hard (note that this wasn't my point at all), but if you code in a standards-compliant, normal way, without doing anything to especially accomodate IE7, there are a number of situation where things will just not work, while working in every other browser.

Is this a problem? Yeah. I would say so. People shouldn't be supporting something and thereby supporting the continued use of a product that doesn't work unless you coddle it. What if someone is a linux user? Are they supposed to buy a windows license just to coddle to users who are hurting the web with their browsing choice?

I'm by no means an expert designer, but I've been doing HTML stuff for a decade or so, from simple to complicated. I can and do get my layouts running in IE7, but that's not the point. The point is that I shouldn't, and if someone doesn't want to, they shouldn't be criticized for that. I'm pretty tired of running a VM to test my layouts as well.

I agree, but I totally think it depends on your market. I would love nothing more than IE <9 to die a horrible death (I actually really like IE9). Some things are just bizarre. But we're in the business of making money, and as long as there are users out there using these browsers then we have to support it... if you can persuade your company otherwise then you have more understanding bosses than I do! I have worked on projects before where we would develop for the main browser and then only support minor browsers if if it was not much effort and that was left to use to use judgement on... mind you this was a fair few years ago and the optional browser was IE6!

Although I understand what you're saying, it sounded to me as if the person has direct experience with IE7 not working with "simple" layouts. In fact, it reads as if the person is saying that IE7 just doesn't work at all despite the design and layout. I'm curious as to what that means because based on my experience simple layouts are not much of an issue for IE7 and complex ones are not that bad. The claim that it "just doesn't work" requires further explanation regardless of the person's experience.

Solution: help create better free, open-source accessibility software. This is my goal.

> until you realize that these companies have to pay people to actually make it work in a browser that's 10 years old

Text and images don't work in ten year old browsers?

> Their website is a product, and they can choose who to offer it to.

And, as I've said more than once, it's fine if their product only works in some browsers and can only be used by some people. (Except, you know, there's some laws you need to comply with.)

But the product part of the website is different from the sales part of the website. Why not make a sales website that degrades gracefully to text and images?

> This is like complaining that this android app won't work on your 10 year old dumbphone.

No. It's like complaining that a listing of software for smartphones is unreadable on anything but the very latest generation of smartphones. (Except it isn't because all analogies are awful.)

> Why should everyone have to pay money to make stuff work in outdated software

This isn't about screen reader software. This is about compliance with web standards for information that is an excellent candidate for standards compliance. Remember that I'm not talking about web apps or software here - I'm only talking about websites describing software, websites that give information to potential customers.

> Why make compromises and waste time when implementing a new feature because it might screw up the viewing experience in your decade old browser?

Because these are not apps that I'm talking about. It's information. Why would you take something simple like text and images and a bit of CSS and make it hard for people to use it on the device of their choice? Why do people make websites that can't be viewed on a mobile phone? What features do they absolutely need that can't be provided on a mobile phone? Usually, it appears to be a mistake they made.

> the viewing experience

FUCK the viewing experience. Seriously. My life has been transformed reading pages of plain text. My life hasn't been transformed by a really nice CSS border. I want to read information. I don't want some idiot designer to mess it around. Let designers do the hard work - give it a nice font, give it a nice clean layout, make it useful. (And this is where good CSS is important - it's hard to make things clean and minimal.) See this example of an error, from the only other tab I had open, Chrome on OSX Snow Leopard. Not an obscure browser.


The link to, I think, the links to view // communications are obscured by the grey background to the menu bar and search box. (Notice also that the top line is partly dark grey while the second line is light grey, leading to a confusing mix of colours for menu items.)

> I don't go into a store expecting to be able to still buy heroin as my cough medicine of choice, either.

A weird analogy. Say you went into a store to ask about information for blood glucose testing meters. You ask the clerk for information. She shows you 4 machines. She gives you manufacturer leaflets, and prices, for 4 machines. But you notice there are 5 machines on the shelf.

"What about that one?" you ask.

"Oh that," she says, "that's the new Blood-o-matic-9001. It's a great machine. Do you have a computer with Windows 8 on you?"

"Well, er, no, I don't." you reply, wondering why she'd ask such a thing. You only want information about it.

"That's a shame," she says "we'll only give information about that machine to people using Windows 8. Come back when you have it and we'll give you information."

Can you see that the app (the meter) can be flash-bang-whizzy and can set limits on the use because that's what apps do, but that it's stupid to set limits on what is essentially a bit of text and graphics just because you wish to force users to "enjoy" the viewing experience of transitions and curved borders.

I guess, because you've mentioned it, that I strongly agree that people should not support broken browsers. But that's very different from not allowing websites to gracefully degrade. I apologise for not being clear enough to convey my point. Communicaing my meaning is something I need to work on.

This is terrific link bait. They've probably checked their stats and figured the exposure is well worth the few missed sales they might encounter.

The "development time" metric is superfluous nonsense perpetrated by lazy, loud-mouthed developers.

Here's a baseless graph that John Resig of jQuery fame included years ago in a speaking session: http://i.imgur.com/1OOcg.png.

Developers are inundated with "ugh; IE sux" propaganda, but the complaints are rarely quantified beyond "my site breaks in IE".

So it's blogspam from LifeHacker linking to Kogan's linkbait...

yep - this sort of PR is nothing new for Kogan either

Yeah, it's a way to flatter the rest of your customer base, who now get to feel superior for using a different browser. "Hey everybody, I use Chrome, aren't I wonderful?"

Further suggestions to let us elite middle-class types feel superior to others:

1. Extra 25% surcharge for anyone who shows up at your cafe wearing Crocs

2. Anyone driving up to your hotel in a Pontiac Aztek has to pay a fifty-dollar uglification fee

3. If a fat person shows up at your store, employ a security guard to stand around going "Ha ha! Fatty fat fat fat" until they leave.

Bad analogies.

It would be reasonable to charge extra for anyone who enters a shop with a beautiful wooden floor wearing spikes on their shoes. Spikes induce extra maintenance costs - so does IE7.

No, that's ridiculous. This is like taxing the disabled because they cost more money.

That's equally ridiculous. Not upgrading your browser is a choice, being disabled is not.

Not really. Most people using IE7 probably didn't choose it, their IT department chose for them.

True but if there was some department disabling people, we would look very differently at disabilities I guess.

I've seen many banks that have legacy systems what ONLY work in IE6, so they can't upgrade until they apps are re-written, but those apps are so big they don't want to touch it or they have some longer term project to replace this, blah blah. Some crap littered with ActiveX plugins no doubt. I know HSBC have (what appears to me anyway) to be like this.

But yes, agree the work/personal related thing, they can easily buy at home and if the workplace has such an antiquated attitude to these things then they probably also have your internet access to watch and lock down anyway.

So then the IT department chose for them not to be able to use a certain online shop. If the online shopping is work-related, then it's the IT department's job to facilitate this and upgrade the systems. If the online shopping is not work-related, you have the option to do it in your own time, with your own browser on your own PC--the same situation as people that do not spend their working hours surfing the web (because they might not have office jobs).

Entering a shop wearing spikes is a choice. Being disabled, in contrast, isn't.

Most people aren't forced to wear spikes by their company.

Most people aren't forced to browse the web by their company.

You're not forced to enter a shop, either, but it's mighty inconvenient to be prevented from doing so.

To expand on my argument, if you have to use IE6 or IE7 because your company says you have to, then that's a restriction you have to live with while at work. It's akin to someone complaining that they can't stop off for personal shopping while they're on the clock and being paid mileage.

You're free to do whatever you want on your own personal time. You don't have to shop online while you're at work (and it's a huge security risk to do so), so complaining that it's inconvenient doesn't really fly.

Another (and more realistic) analogy would be a retailer adding a surcharge to your total when paying by credit card.

That's illegal in most states/violates all credit card agreements for the vendor.

(but still a valid comparison)

Not illegal in Australia, where kogan is from. Unfortunately there's no limit on the amount a merchant can charge for payment/card fees. For example, I believe the most popular taxi charge company here (CabCharge) charges a 10% fee when paying by credit card.

I do believe the RBA was going to investigate this [1]. If they do anything about it is something else entirely however..

[1] http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/reserve-bank-is-investigati...

In the US. My bad.

But places can just offer s "cash discount" and it ends up being exactly the same. All the gas stations around me charge 10 cents more for credit cards and it's infuriating.

How about a discount to cash then? Its the opposite, buy has the same result.

Most common (in the US) is just a minimum credit card purchase.

Many gas stations here (in California anyway) still offer a slightly lower price for cash customers.

In Europe many get away with it.

I guess the major economic difference is all those suggestions would lose you money, whereas this will probably help their sales while slightly cutting their costs.

4. All sarcastic comments get -5 starting karma

An interesting idea, but I can't help but think there's a better way to phrase it.

For instance, they could automatically impose the tax but then offer a discount for switching browsers. That's more of a win for everyone involved. For the shopper, they aren't treated poorly, but they're moved towards a better browsing experience and they stop being a burden on the internet. For Kogan they can still impose their "tax" without alienating customers.

As it reads right now, it's rather condescending. I do get that they're probably being intentionally provocative to impress an entirely separate audience, but if you were to take the idea seriously I think there would be better ways to pull it off.

Adding it in ahead of time would destroy them in comparison shopping. That's a HUGE deal.

My co-worker mentioned that they may need to change the word from tax to fee. Something to do with tax being a legal definition...

I can't help but feel there's a better way to "make the Internet a better place". While it's not ideal customers are using IE7, belittling them and taxing because they might not know better seems a little extreme. The message reads more like developers venting their frustration supporting IE7 rather than trying to make things better.

There might be nicer ways (for the user) to do it, but each of these ways requires a lot of time and money. IE should really be picking up after itself and assisting users on the legacy systems to update their browsers. Unfortunately, a lot of the time it's Government and Corporate organizations that use old legacy systems from the fear of what might happen if they tried to upgrade and migrate their legacy computer networks.

I think it's fair enough. Consumers who can't be bothered upgrading are costing Kogan money by frustrating their developers (assuming good dev/designers are now giving preference to jobs that don't require supporting ie7)

It may actually be costing Kogan money overall by driving away some consumers, but no doubt they've done the sums and think the goodwill from the tech crowd and marketing will outweigh that

Blame the customer? Yeah, that works.

This is badly worded - no question. I'm no lawyer, but I imagine there may be some law about actually calling it a "tax" - tax tends to imply something imposed by the government. They are of course free to charge whatever surcharges or discounts they want.....

A smarter move would simply to have notified the customers upon hitting the site that their browser is incompatible with the site and that they could switch to some others that are more compatable. Telling them you are going to charge them more is absurd - either you're going to support Ie7, or you aren't.

Really weird marketing move either way...

Why is it so strange to pass the cost of supporting IE7 to IE7 users? If anything, I think business should be more effective at passing these costs to the specific consumers.

I think it's cute but it's hard to get over the sense that it's the moral equivalent of "This site best viewed with frames at 1024x768 screen resolution with Netscape Navigator 2.0."

I think asking the user to use tech that is less than 5 years old is more reasonable then specifying 1 version and resolution. And in those days there barely was a browser that was over 5 years old.

Back when websites were specifying frames and Netscape versions it was an attempt to preempt problems users with old and decrepit browsers too.

It didn't take 5 years, a lot would change in just 2 or 3 and there were still many users running old junk (or AOL).

Anyone who bought a Windows PC 4 years ago would have IE7 on it, since IE8 didn't come out till March 19, 2009.

now that the world has moved on from the two-browser days, and we actually have some standards in place, there's a huge difference between "only this idiosyncratic browser" and "anything but this noncompliant browser".

So then just design and test with the compliant browsers and let IE users figure it out for themselves. If just a fraction of the sites had done that back during the browser wars then IE would have become a compliant browser.

not really - during the browser wars, ie had such a large share of the market that if you didn't support it, your site was considered broken, not the browser.

Yes, everybody used that logic back then and it became self-fulfilling.

There were a few Mac users back then too. At one time they were influential enough that Microsoft had developed a port of IE to Mac.

They'd rather build a port than risk having Mac users demanding compatibility with their competitor.

No it didn't. If it had, it wouldn't have been a "war" - it would have just been IE just dominating. In fact, Netscape started with a massive lead.


I think it shows that "Works best with X" can easily turn into "Works best with Y" and nobody is better at that game than Microsoft. Almost nobody can stay in business once Microsoft decides to destroy you by bundling a copycat product for free with their monopoly OS. But still it was shortsighted of Netscape to:

a) Try to get the web hooked on nonstandard behavior such as lenient parsing.

b) Charge money for the browser.

Ah; browser elitism continues to pervade the web platform. Perhaps one day developers will realize how to develop working pages for static, decade-old browsers. It's not as hard as bloggers evangelize it to be.

HTML and CSS gracefully degrade. Host objects (DOM, etc.) require some care, but can degrade as well.

On an open platform with open software, we continue to punish and castigate users for their choice (or lack thereof) of environment. How infuriating is it for a user that's stuck on IE < 8 at work because of paranoid sysadmins?

Moreover, version detection is moronic. Twitter does this by banishing IE 6 users to a "mobile site" because the "desktop site" is poorly written. Browsing in IE 5 yields a broken version of the "desktop site" (CSS and all).

> HTML and CSS gracefully degrade.

No. Not when the targetted browser has bugs, or implements half the properties used for a given technique and not the other half. When a button is hidden and its replacement can't display the degradation is not graceful, when elements are all over the page because positioning doesn't work correctly the degradation is not graceful, when activating buttons doesn't even work because you happened to use an attribute or a property the browser doesn't like the degradation is not graceful, and when the browser just throws or crashes altogether because you accessed a js property the degradation is not graceful.

And that's just user-facing, Kogan notes that their issue is cost, and the cost of supporting IE6 and IE7 is huge not just because their engines are gigantic piles of shit full of bugs and incorrect behaviors but because they don't even provide the tools to debug them.

Supporting anything is possible, the problem is the cost sunk into it for the complete absence of a return on investment.

It's not browser elitism, it's just the facts. No reasonable person is arguing that IE7 is the best browser - it's old, out of date and works poorly and there are plenty of good free browsers to choose from so why not just use one of them.

Also, where does it end? Should we still support Netscape or IE6 just because users have the right to choose to use old browsers? There has to be a limit to the support for older technology and IE7 has reached that limit.

It cuts both ways, sure you can choose to use IE7 but also I can choose not to support it, if that loses customers then so be it, if it gets them to upgrade it has done both them and the internet a service.

Spoken like someone who has never had to spend hours and days toying with a single design element to get it to work in older versions of IE.



These are not things that allow for "graceful degradation"

These things are horrible aberrations birthed forth from hells bowels designed to destroy any chance of having a single, concise, clear approach to CSS and HTML when trying to be backwards compatible.

I'm sorry, but it's time for browsers of a certain age to die off. There is no elitism here; Newer browsers are irrefutably better in every way than the old dregs of IEs growing pains.

Too many man hours are wasted on trying to get things to work in these old browsers, and it simply is not worth it.

This isn't elitism, it's sanity.

> HTML and CSS gracefully degrade.

I've seen this sentiment tossed around a few times now. I guess it's valid as long as (a) You're not working to strict wireframes, or (b) You are, but you don't have deadlines

While you may be right about browser elitism your tone suggests coder elitism. Yeah, we can often allow sites to degrade gracefully but the old web is dying. The days of static sites are almost totally behind us. We're entering a new era in development and sometimes supporting those old browsers is more trouble than it's worth. Penalizing users of older browsers gives them incentive to upgrade. It really is a win win situation. They get a better experience and we get another user. We can't support these old browsers forever. Ten years doesn't sound like much but on the web it's a lifetime. It's like suggesting reserving one lane of our highways for horse and buggies.

I realize that a certain line must be drawn. However, a large subset of browsers can still be supported. I've found that I can support scripted pages until IE 4, wherein `throw` and `try/catch` are not supported. Niceties such as `Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty` and `Function.prototype.call` were introduced in IE 6⁰, so I can accept complaints about IE 5. A SyntaxError followed by a termination of script seem acceptable in that case.

However, HTML and CSS should degrade fine in old browsers. I have no problems with presenting an acceptable page in IE 6 or Opera 5, even with their quirky float handling. We just don't work hard enough.

⁰ JScript version 5.5, which is implemented in IE 5.5 introduced these. Verson 5.6 was implemented in IE 6.

I disagree that it's an issue of simply not working hard enough. The reality is that it's an issue of opportunity costs: There are only so many hours in a day, and every hour you spend on backwards compatibility is an hour that could have been spent on something else. Naturally, as time passes and the older browsers get older (i.e. less popular and harder to develop for), people are going to see less value in supporting then in lieu of the alternative ways they can spend their development efforts.

Backwards compatibility isn't a proper way of describing what I do.

Graceful degradation is the proper description. In short, scripts can degrade by testing for the existence of a property (e.g. `Array.prototype.push`) and ignoring the property if it does not exist.

I'll be posting a large project here soon that should clarify the strategy. Stay tuned.

We just don't work hard enough.

There are 24 hours in a day, and some smaller number usable for working. What percentage of them should I spend making cool stuff, and what percentage should I spend making sure that cool stuff works in six (IE7), eleven (IE6) or twelve (Opera 5) year old browsers that only a tiny percentage of potential users use?

Spend some weekends reading up on feature detection[0] and documented "bugs" (read: expected behavior) on MSDN. The time I've spent on both has transformed my perspective as a developer.

We really don't work hard enough because we decry the DOM and blame Microsoft for problems research can and will solve.

[0]: http://peter.michaux.ca/articles/feature-detection-state-of-...

I'm pretty sure I read that article around the time it came out. Looks familiar, anyway.

It doesn't have anything to do with my point, which is about opportunity costs. I have a finite amount of time, money and other resources. Why should I spend them making sure old browsers used by a small number of the lest sophisticated users work instead of building features?

100% cool stuff, 0% old browsers!

If it wasn't readily apparent how little you "got it" before this post, saying "We just don't work hard enough" destroys any credibility you may have here.

Sorry, but there's a difference between "working hard" to make sure your site looks good and functions across as many browsers as you can, and wasting hours of your valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere, trying to get older versions of IE to show things properly without damaging all the other browsers.

I don't write a single line of code that caters to one browser. This is where so many people miss the mark on understanding how I develop.

I test browsers in my spare time to discover how to degrade for them. I don't "bend them to my will"; I just use standards-compliant development with proper feature detection.

I think we work very hard. You seem to be wrangling old browsers into submission for sport. And that's fine but time is money and we don't have time for all that work for so few users. Thank god for these big guys who are pushing users of old browsers to upgrade. They're sparing the rest of us from not only being the bad guy but from having to do all that extra work. I can see some sites maybe being able to put the effort in to support ancient browsers but then you went after Twitter and I think that's where your argument suffers. First off, Twitter users know what the term "social network" means. Users of IE6 and below will probably never visit such a thing because their browser choice totally gives away their demographic. Beyond that, if Twitter were to cater to these older browsers they'd have a front end code base so bloated it'd rival their backend. Or the other option would be for them to do some graceful degradation work but since a lot of their current UI doesn't lend itself well to that (at least not as far back as you suggest they should) we'd be stuck with a poorer version of their UI which currently is really great! Sites moving toward being as responsive as a desktop app is such a great thing but it just can't be made to work in IE6 and under without bringing down everyone else's experience.

...how many users are you seeing on IE 5? IE 6, even? It sounds like a waste of time.

The objective of testing on older browsers is to break feature testing logic.

For example, Opera 6 has no DOM Core implementation. Ergo, I use it to test code that uses the DOM Core to observe graceful degradation. This enables the code to be "future-proof", or compatible with past, present and future browsers.

Krogans are doing some really good things since Urdnot Wrex came into power.

PR, link bait or whatever you think about it... you gotta agree it sure is a fun way to promote change.

I like it. Sure, alienating your customers is bad, but in a case where these customers may be costing you money, might as well push them to upgrade.

Yeah as much as it could be a pr stunt, there is so much wasted time/money in legacy compatibility development. One contract I had blew out by 2 months (making total dev time 3.5 months) in IE6/7 modifications.

If you sell a B2B product, there is a higher willingness for the customer to pay this tax since they are probably working at a large enterprise.

Honestly more sites should do something like this (maybe a little less prohibitive and a bit more informational). I think most users with old browsers are on them because they don't know about the faults of that browser or the alternatives. Making the alternatives so obvious may do some good, and shouldn't be too much of an inconvenience to the user.

I think Kogan has already stopped supporting IE7 because IE7 hangs if you do visit!

To be clear: I wanted to see this amusing "tax notice" first hand, but when I visit kogan.com using Internet Explorer 7.0 with all default settings using a Windows XP/SP3 system, it shows the front page but it then hangs.

Nice move, there is no reasonable excuse to still be using IE7. If your IT department is forcing it on you they are just being slack + it's a consumer website so you probably shouldn't be shopping at work anyway.

> Microsoft itself has worked hard to persuade users to upgrade as part of general system patches, and as we’ve noted recently, the current Internet Explorer 9 release performs much better than you might think.

Is IE9 available for Windows XP? Most of the corporates still rely on Windows XP machines. I can't help thinking Microsoft's persuading people to get IE9 is just another try to get them out of Windows XP. And while there's ample reason to move on from IE7, there isn't any so many for upgrading from Windows XP, really.

Is it me, or others also not seeing it? In IE6, the IE7 tax is not applied. Wondering why they would have left IE6.

They'll probably charge 100% tax for IE6.

My work PC has IE6 and I see it being applied.

Ah, flashback! Or just don't support IE at all (and call it a feature!): http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3941799

Kogan really has a nice way to educate people to choose a better browser, but I think this will hurt his image a little bit.

What about a discount if you use other browsers instead? Wouldn't that be a better encouragement to have people switch?

I'm surprised there isn't some JavaScript library service that notifies users that their browser is outdated.

Why 6.8% specifically?

It is written. "0.1% for each month since the browser was released"

I see IE9 is missing in that list :)

And not a fuck was given :)

They're so kerrrrazy I lol'ed. Good bit of free publicity I'm sure.


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