On Friday, Sitepoint posted its latest podcast (MP3 link) with a discussion unfortunately germane to a lot of developers’ work: what to do about Internet Explorer 6. They linked to one of my articles as background material (as if I’m an expert or something).
I found the discussion somewhat strange—as I do all podcasts, really, because instead of a “proper” media show where the participants research before presenting their views, podcasts are the equivalent of nattering around the water cooler.
Much of the discussion whipped around why on earth people don’t upgrade their browser. I mean, c’mon. There are lots of reasons for this & if you’ve ever worked in a large corporate atmosphere as I did a very long time ago, you can come up with a few more. The prime users of IE6, I’d wager, will be first: those using ancient machines—they’re people who either cannot upgrade or don’t know how to upgrade. The second and far larger user base: those behind corporate intranets, where everything’s been tested in the simplest way possible, with one browser only & one version of that browser only. Lots of corporate intranets use ActiveX & will restrict its usage to IE6 because, well, that’s what they restricted it to. It’s the lazy path to information design, but corporate IT departments—trust me on this—are often filled with lazy people.
But corporate IT isn’t the only lazy culprit out there. Lately, some banks have been caught out using lame browser-sniffing techniques & have thereby excluded the latest browser on the scene, Opera 10, from using their websites because “it’s too old”. (For those interested in why the sniffer didn’t work, it’s because the browser sniffer doesn’t parse more than one digit, so Opera 10 is classed as Opera 1. That’s practically the dictionary definition of “lame”.) And don’t think that standardistas are exempt from laziness: one of the podcast’s participants stated he “didn’t even test in IE6 any more” (albeit for personal sites), which to me is pretty scandalous. After all, the whole point of the web is its inclusivity: the more, the merrier.