Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Internet Explorer 6: Hard To Kill

Panels at the Web 2.0 Expo agree that ongoing use of IE6 is holding back Web

For all the fireworks between Apple and Adobe over Flash and HTML5, the leading browser makers face a more pressing problem: Putting Internet Explorer 6 out of its misery.

Despite a funeral held for IE6 in March, rumors of the hoary browser's demise to be greatly exaggerated.

At the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco on Wednesday, Palm engineers Dion Almaer and Ben Galbraith -- now part of HP -- moderated a panel discussion populated by representatives of the major browser makers, except for Apple.

During the talk, Google's Alex Russell, Mozilla's Brendan Eich, Opera's Charles McCathieNevile, Microsoft's Giorgio Sardo, and JSON creator Douglas Crockford, held forth on where the Web is going.

While there's not yet a consensus on the future of the Web, the panelists agreed that moving ahead is being made more difficult as a result of the ongoing use of IE6.

Almaer referred to Microsoft's outdated browser as "an anchor around our necks."

The tone among the browser engineers was cordial, even laudatory toward Microsoft's eight-year-old browser. It was innovative in its day, they said, but now it's holding back the Web because it doesn't support HTML5.

Sardo took the opportunity to note that Microsoft that morning had made the second preview of Internet Explorer 9 available.

"Microsoft believes HTML5 is the future of the Web," he said, even as he ducked the question of when Microsoft would support the HTML5 Canvas element.

But as Crockford observed, the future remains mired in the past. Acknowledging that the browser represents the world's most important application delivery system, he said that the standards efforts at ECMA and the HTML5 group are "all irrelevant if we don't solve the IE6 problem."

"A significant portion of the world is on IE6 and they're not getting off," Crockford said, noting that IE6 users represent a larger group than users of Chrome, Safari and Opera combined.

The situation is particularly bad internationally, he said, with 40% of people in some markets still using IE6.

Crockford proposed that the major browser makers choose a day to simultaneously begin redirecting IE6 users to a Web site that asks them to choose a new browser.

Russell, who works on Google Chrome Frame, an IE6 add-on that allows IE6 users to utilize the Chrome rendering engine rather than the native IE6 engine, suggested Chrome Frame could help.

Eich said that enterprise use of IE6, particularly in conjunction with IE6-tuned enterprise applications, represents part of the problem.

Sardo added that Microsoft has been encouraging users to upgrade to IE8. But, as Crockford observed, that's not always a simple option in countries like China where many IE6 users are running unauthorized copies of Windows.

Five years from now, said Eich, IE6 isn't likely to be a concern.

Until then, Web developers will have to continue to swim forward with an anchor around their necks.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 10/27/2020
Chinese Attackers' Favorite Flaws Prove Global Threats, Research Shows
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  10/27/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
How IT Security Organizations are Attacking the Cybersecurity Problem
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world -- and enterprise computing -- on end. Here's a look at how cybersecurity teams are retrenching their defense strategies, rebuilding their teams, and selecting new technologies to stop the oncoming rise of online attacks.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
NeoPost Mail Accounting Software Pro 5.0.6 allows php/Commun/FUS_SCM_BlockStart.php?code= XSS.
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
osCommerce Phoenix CE before allows admin/define_language.php CSRF.
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
osCommerce Phoenix CE before allows OS command injection remotely. Within admin/mail.php, a from POST parameter can be passed to the application. This affects the PHP mail function, and the sendmail -f option.
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
Shibboleth Identify Provider 3.x before 3.4.6 has a denial of service flaw. A remote unauthenticated attacker can cause a login flow to trigger Java heap exhaustion due to the creation of objects in the Java Servlet container session.
PUBLISHED: 2020-10-28
The Snap7 server component in version 1.4.1, when an attacker sends a crafted packet with COTP protocol the last-data-unit flag set to No and S7 writes a var function, the Snap7 server will be crashed.