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Is there any list of companies that currently require old versions of IE? I know a lot of hospitals do, and people handwave banks and whatnot.

If there was a big list of "These people still use old versions of IE", then we could:

  A. Properly shame/advertise for attack/avoid getting work from these people.

  B. Expose a dedicated market audience for compatibility-minded dev shops
Either of these would seem to be a Good Thing (tm), and would help remove a lot of the FUD in the ecosystem.



You're missing an important part of this. There's a large number of companies whose web capabilities need to support people who use their website while working at the companies that have older versions of IE. The company I'm with has embedded video players on a large number of web retailer's pages (we're hiring a javascript+flash developer in Austin, TX right now, particularly around video players. If you're interested, drop me a line) and a significant portion of them have requirements to support IE6 or IE7 with analytics that back up the need based on percentage of their traffic and conversions from those users.

However, I (not speaking for the company, just me personally) strongly disagree with the focus on "identical experience" amongst browsers. Instead, I prefer the route of graceful degradation where not all features may be available for all browsers, but it's fully functional and aesthetically pleasing (not necessarily identical) in all browsers.

That being said, not all companies have the same browser support requirements...it's entirely based around what the site's individual traffic and conversion rates are.

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"I [...] strongly disagree with the focus on "identical experience" amongst browsers. Instead, I prefer [...] graceful degradation [...]"

I fully agree. This is what we have accepted with the mobile web since the 1990s.

This is a smashing opportunity for web application frameworks to provide that sort of accessible experience while permitting more "flashy" features on more capable platforms.

A js meta-library that abstracted 1.9 and 2.x as long as possible would be worth a licensing fee for many sites. The others would make the decision based on their own analytics.

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  There's a large number of companies whose web capabilities need to support people who use their website while working at the companies that have older versions of IE.
Like who? Honest question. I know that not all users currently have modern browsers (which is total bullshit, by the way--with free, open-source browsers as well as Chrome and the like, there is no excuse for this) but this isn't something we should treat as anything but detestable and fixable.

As for "identical experience", I will have to disagree. I have no problem with gracefully degrading sites due to screen size or compute power, but there is no reason that desktop browsers should be permitted to render things differently from one another (and if the spec is ambiguous, we should fix the damn spec). Developers are lazy, or shortsighted, or both, and given the option of "Hey, works on my machine/browser/whatever", we should expect only annoying fragmentation.

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For the 'Like who?', I'm too lazy to check which companies are our customers that have a "can be used to endorse our service" clause, the categories off the top of my head are: major telecom providers, major PC sales companies, office furniture sales companies, major clothing companies, major beauty product companies. Note that this doesn't cover new companies or technology focused ones, there's a particular demographic that they are selling to that at a minimum browse their sites while at work. And after rereading everything, I may have been a bit ambiguous, so I'll clarify. People, while they are at work, use browser A because they work for shitty company X. While at work, they browse, add to cart and buy from an unrelated company. And for whatever reason, people buying from the unrelated company are disproportionately doing so while at work and working for a company with outdated browsers.

For the degradation, I especially don't mean a lazy approach. In fact, having good degradation is typically harder for newer developers (or requires them to check in more browsers). The core way to do it is to develop for what's common across browsers (what's handled the same way), then for ambiguities in the spec (does the border count as part of the width of a div or not?). Once that's done, you then add the extra. The idea is, if browser A supports, say, easily defined gradients on a button, but browser B doesn't, should we have a special case for browser B to load an image to give the identical gradient, or should we let it be a flat colored button? Or let's say a browser has some extensions that make client-side form validation easy and simple. Using that functionality for that browser makes sense, but is the development effort to do the validation on all browsers worth it when server-side validation will happen also? The functionality is the same, the experiences are both good, but the experiences are not identical.

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There are thousands of users in major banks and financial institutions which still use IE and have NO plans on moving forward anytime soon. None.

I don't mean the users. I mean the companies. You really think the banks that LITERALLY control the world's economy are somehow going to be 'shamed' into upgrading their internet browsers? You might as well try shaming the moon into changing color.

I don't mean to sound condescending, but there's no other way to put this...the comments about browser support on this board show just how inexperienced many developers really are. We are not talking about installing Firefox or Chrome on a few PCs. We are talking about MASSIVE companies with BILLIONS (with a 'B') of dollars flowing through WORKING systems that have been tested into infinity and are the backbone of our economy. Should they upgrade? Sure. Will they? No. not until they've stretched the technology they are already running until it collapses.

This move by JQuery devs, I get it, but it's quickly pushing itself out of the realm of 'awesome' to 'annoyance', only suitable for small projects. I hope not, but that's what it looks like. Even 1.9.x deprecated some features that should have been left alone - we had to code them back in.

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Which companies? Give us some names--that's why I'm proposing this list.

We always, always hear the same threadbare stories about mythical magical enterprise customers that can't/won't upgrade, and the little tail wags the dog, and the life for the rest of us is made harder.

All this for a use case which is basically hearsay and rumors.

As for inexperienced developers--I'll go and say that the experience I've had of watching bad compilers and system headers and christ only knows what else force native code to get uglier and uglier and less maintainable are what motivate me to try and discourage the same mistakes in Happy Web Land.

The web is barely twenty years old, arguably much younger--let's at least try and avoid sins we don't have to commit.

Edit: Or, you know, downvote me without explanation. That's pretty cool too.

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I work at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, NY. Much of what I do is building intranet web apps. About a year ago they upgraded (yes, upgraded) to IE7. We have 18,000 employees, but let's say we have 10,000 computers. Upgrading all of those computers, verifying that all of the hundreds of apps provided by dozens of vendors used in scores of departments is a huge and expensive project. Healthcare in NYC is a business that earns you a margin of - if you're lucky - 1%. It is difficult to justify the cost

Note that I'm not a decision maker - in fact, I'm not even in the IT department. Please don't try to argue this with me, as I may be totally wrong about what their decision factors even were. Personally, my life would be much easier if they would upgrade, but I can understand why they have not.

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No one working at that level is going to disclose their customers and the technology agreements they have. That would be business suicide (and would ruin lives). Again, this isn't mom and pop shop level stuff.

But I will give you a clue. Go find a list of the top 10 biggest banks in the United States. It's almost all of them. Then go find the biggest credit card companies. It's most of them.

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Sounds like a plan--didn't mean to come off as a jerk; you probably grok what I'm getting at. Thanks!

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Have you ever walked into a Chase branch and noticed they're running IE as they browse through your bank account, and wonder why such insanely sensitive, secure information is being run through IE?

Find me a bank that doesn't run IE, for that matter. I'm a Chase customer, so I can only confirm them. But I honestly wonder how many banks don't run IE.

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The problem is that some of these big companies outsource their IT. They don't want to upgrade from, say, IE6 because they know it's going to cost them a FORTUNE.

I know of at least 2 big blue chip companies with this problem.

In fact, I once had a requirement that the software we write have it's own independant auth mechanism and NOT be linked to Active Directory, "because it costs us thousands every time we ask to add a user or change a role".

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It's pretty clear that you don't know many people who use IE8. What you're saying sounds nice in theory, but falls down in practice. Many people lack the knowledge of better browsers, or are simply afraid of changing, because they've learned how to use IE, and they don't want to learn a whole new set of routines. They don't use computers in the way you do, because they don't understand the underlying principles - they learn step by step how to do a task, and then they replay those steps every time, like an Excel macro. This is why, when something unexpected happens, they're helpless.

Switching browsers may break many of those macros, and at the very least, will be very uncomfortable for many.

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There are macros in IE8? Really?

Look, there are two camps: companies that refuse to run modern browsers, and individual users.

I posit that we should list the members of the former camp, and that we should educate the members of the latter camp. Changing from IE to Firefox to Chrome shouldn't be a big deal, and if we've only managed to instill idiot monkey-level tools usage in our users we have (as developers and human beings and tool-users!) failed.

You do not, do not want to encourage the intellectual sloth of these folks--it will come back to bite all of us.

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Those *human macros (reread the first paragraph).

Get into education, then, but that's a separate discussion.

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You keep banging on this drum as if you're going to somehow name and shame big businesses for making perfectly reasonable business decisions.

Please understand that a web browser is just a software tool like any other. You don't install a web browser at your business so you can say you use some bleeding edge shiny. You install a web browser to get some useful job done. Much of the time, that involves accessing in-house systems. Some of the time, maybe it involves accessing the external WWW, perhaps to research or buy something. Supporting the latest browsers so everyone can spend even longer playing on-line games or posting on Facebook is, shall we say, not a business priority.

Now, please understand that perhaps the single most important attribute for most large businesses with significant IT operations and mostly non-technical staff is predictability. If everyone is running on a stable software foundation, then tools can be built on top of that foundation. If everyone is running the same version of their end user software, then help desk staff can provide canned step-by-step guides to doing things, or remotely access someone's machine to fix a problem or guide a user through a new process for the first time. If every server in a group is running the same operating system distribution then you only have to keep track of one set of security patches and apply them uniformly. And so it goes on.

In this context, it is entirely reasonable that businesses "refuse to run modern browsers". Your modern browsers do stupid things like moving the goalposts every six weeks (or every few months if you jump through special hoops to use a laughably named long-term support version). Your modern browsers include new technologies that introduce security and privacy risks we didn't have before. Your modern browsers break backwards compatibility and won't run the $5,000,000 bespoke CRM package on our intranet any more! And in most cases, your modern browsers offer no business benefit compared to the tried and tested tools already in use.

In short, while you may wish that everyone ran the latest shiny new browser, there are very good reasons why many big businesses don't. If you think the guys running IT for those places somehow didn't notice that there are other options or just can't be bothered to upgrade or suffer from "intellectual sloth" then you really have no idea how things work at that level at all.

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Could not have said it better, thanks matey!

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I won't give you a name - but I know of a very large international company (hundreds off offices, tens of thousands of employees, etc.) that runs older versions of IE across much of their network. Some of it is budgets for testing newer versions. Some of it has to do with specific applications that are business-critical, but only work on older IE versions and haven't been updated / upgraded to run on new versions of modern browsers. It's easy to say "just upgrade" but large organizations just don't operate that way unfortunately.

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> Like who? Honest question.

I've got a county-government customer on IE8, with no plans to upgrade.

My workaround for them: ChromeFrame.

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We have a large number of users in rural areas of Kenya who only have access to a very old computer which barely has enough steam to start up each day. They still use IE6.

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Wouldn't they get a big performance boost on an old computer running something else?

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> and people handwave banks and whatnot

RBS. Aviva. NABG. And that is just the larger ones I have experience of. Those are pretty big hands to wave. If we say "sorry, our products might not work as well in IE8" they'll say "sorry, we can't use your products any more".

And it isn't just that they demand IE8 support in case their customers need it, their desktop builds used for all their internal uses have nothing but IE8. "Maybe they'll upgrade soon" we hope, "or perhaps given their users one of ff/chrome/other as an alternative along side IE8", but given they only upgraded to IE8 from IE6 over the last two years (the last of our clients to move from IE6 completed that transition about three months ago) I doubt I'll be seeing them use anything better internally for a good few years.

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You can shame Amazon/whoever all you like for supporting IE but I don't think they're just going to shut down their store for even .5% of their userbase.

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Go into a local small business with about [$|€|£]2-5m in turnover per year. A moderately successful veterinary practice comes to mind.

They have applications that need to be managed by what is undoubtedly an outsourced IT service, very likely related to some other system (practice management, diagnostic hardware, goofy industry-specific file formats, accounting, back-office, etc.).

They will stay on XP for ages because it works with everything they bought when they last "modernized" their practice ten years ago. Upgrading will be prohibitively expensive, on the order of making the decision to hire one junior staff member for a year.

The same upgrade will cost the same in a year, or five years, so there's no business purpose to upgrade until they need to migrate to another platform, either due to lack of support for modern hardware as the existing gear ends its lifecycle, or because of a strategically imperative application that requires an upgrade.

They may need enough "modernity" in their web browser for industry sites and (increasingly) wikipedia, but most uses of web 2.0 will be shrugged off as inessential, whether it's Facebook or Highrise/Salesforce/whatever.

Bigger companies have to refresh hardware due to failure at a higher rate. As a result, they can retain a permanent staff of people who manage OS images and upgrade on a next-to-last type cycle. Smaller companies are often using "personal" grade equipment and will take the accelerated depreciation when they need to buy one new laptop because the old one is too slow.

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>They will stay on XP for ages because it works with everything they bought when they last "modernized" their practice ten years ago.

AFAIK the only reason XP was supported for more than that was the Longhorn delays.

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Many of these people don't care about "support" from Microsoft. They care about compatibility with some piece of mission critical software, whether it's a DOS-based app, an old FoxPro database that won't run on a newer release (compatibility mode what?), or an ancient version of Peachtree that can't be upgraded without going through ten intermediate versions.

Whether it's XP, 98, 95, NT, OS9, SCO, OS/360, etc. isn't really the issue. It's that customers need a reason to upgrade, and making life easier for a web developer is usually not that reason.

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Many of these people don't care about "support" from Microsoft. They care about compatibility with some piece of mission critical software, whether it's a DOS-based app, an old FoxPro database that won't run on a newer release (compatibility mode what?), or an ancient version of Peachtree that can't be upgraded without going through ten intermediate versions.

Or, for a significant number of businesses, support for some expensive custom hardware that came with a software package that runs on (for example) Windows XP, but doesn't work because of the device driver architecture changes on Windows 7. The odds of places like that upgrading just to get a new version of IE are approximately zero, and even less if part of that software solution actually uses IE specifically.

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I understand the issues with small businesses--believe me. I also understand that in those environments, getting Firefox installed doesn't magically break everything.

The purpose of having a list like this is to record the service providers who do have products out there that break using modern browsers--because they're ripe opportunities for "doing it righter and cheaper".

Do people not see how hard they are making the lives of future developers (or even their own lives down the road) by continuing to coddle these people?

Your vet example would be happy to switch to a cheaper service (cheaper because the devs were cheaper, because the tech is more modern and less finicky) if it were available, and a hitlist of companies ripe for displacement (due to running old platforms) would help the vet as much as help the devs.

This is so frustrating.

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"Do people not see how hard they are making the lives of future developers (or even their own lives down the road) by continuing to coddle these people?

Your vet example would be happy to switch to a cheaper service (cheaper because the devs were cheaper, because the tech is more modern and less finicky) if it were available, and a hitlist of companies ripe for displacement (due to running old platforms) would help the vet as much as help the devs."

The benefit of change has to outweigh the cost. How long would they have to close, or "click over to the old system" with clients, until they were fully transitioned? These are not organizations that use webapps as their primary app delivery platform. (Or, rather, they don't know that's an embedded IE control in their x-ray viewing application.)

Who cares about the devs? Seriously, they are the group that should be paying for access to the markets, either via currency (buying software that makes this problem go away) or by labor (maintaining ten versions of their sites).

The problem is that most developers, and web developers especially, are squatting on the properties of large organizations with goals that are not always aligned with theirs. At best, we own our way down to the OS system call level. Increasingly, our dependencies are bound much higher in the application stack. .NET and Java versions can be changed out from under us, web browsers can be swapped out, and even features such as HTTP pipelining or keepalive can force us to reevaluate our scaling strategies.

I agree that the lack of control is frustrating. This is the nature of the industry.

For an example in another industry, read about Swatch Group's desire to stop supplying watch movements (and parts) on the open market. ETA has become so central in the industry (very similar to a late 90s MSFT) that the Swiss government became involved in slowing the policy change of a corporate entity. Even so, a number of smaller watchmakers will cease to exist because they won't be able to adapt.

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How "modern" technology makes developers cheap?

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You'd be surprised about hospitals. At a hospital with modern software, a lot of the browser based stuff they use actually runs through Citrix or something similar, so they're using IE9/10 or Chrome for the most part.

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> At a hospital with modern software...

That's one helluva qualifier when talking about hospitals. Our company creates web-based software for hospitals, and we have yet to talk to a customer who doesn't need IE7 support. (We draw the line at IE6.)

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Interesting. We do software for larger hospitals that has some web-based elements and require IE 9+ or Chrome. I guess we're targeting different audiences.

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