I recently asked a question that got shot down for being too strongly worded. I'm having another go today because it's something I really am concerned about and I really do want feedback and ideas from the smart people on SO.

IE6 isn't quite the bane of my existence, but it's close. I'm a web-developer and spend too much time fixing things for IE6. Considering its age and relative quality, I'm shocked so many people are still using it.

I understand that some companies still use it for legacy internal webapp support but I've found two companies now that haven't upgraded solely because XP's automatic updates doesn't offer it by default (you have to go through the browser-based Windows Update to install IE7/8).

So forgetting those that need it, how would you convince an individual or organisation to upgrade to a newer version of IE?

Do warning banners work? I've considered skipping doing the IE6-fixing before and putting a "This site works best in..." statement up but surely having a poorly-rendered site makes me and/or my client look bad, not IE6.

There are also people who don't need to keep IE6 but cannot upgrade because they're in a controlled environment. What is the best way to influence them enough to get their admins to do something about the problem?

Note: As I said last time, I don't care about moving these people to another browser. I don't mind giving them the option but this certainly isn't supposed to be a Firefox/FOSS uber-alles thread.

I'm also not looking for a fight, just constructive ideas on making business types aware of browser technologies in the least damaging way.

Edit: There are a couple of "you can't force it" answers. I agree, but I feel I could influence it. I tell people when I see IE6 but I'm not sitting behind every IE6 user that accesses a site I've made.

Consider health warnings on cigarettes. They don't force people to stop smoking but they do educate in a succinct and (nowadays) fairly brutal way. There's no doubt that educating people has had a massive effect on the numbers of smokers.

IE6 is a lot less addictive than smoking so, yeah, pushing the education idea seems like it might be able to influence the right people to do the right thing.

+2  A: 

Hi Oli

I think you are thinking the wrong way about it. Supposing every one of us takes our decisions based on effort vs advantages, do you think that upgrading the browser (lot of work and very difficult for a non techie) has enough advantages to justify doing it? Maybe not!

It's not _that_ fact for a non-techie windows update should be bugging you all the time about it.
Alex Beardsley
It does take a long time to do the updates on a 2005-era computer, but doing the upgrade is really a rather simple process to explain.
+18  A: 

You can't force them, especially if IT in their companies mandates IE6.

EDIT: I agree about educating people, but although someone is educated, he still can't upgrade unless IT allows it.

Dev er dev
+1 You can't force people to change. Google take this approach as well for a lot of their Javascript applications: The best option for you is to support it, even if it's annoying. Things like google news actually render correctly in IE 5 and netscape 4.7.
Alex Beardsley
You can't force them, but I'm lucky that one of our customers recently accepted to set IE7 as minimum. Although both our JavaScript parts and the CSS rendering works and looks almost perfect on IE5.0 (!). It's just some little annoyances with IE6 that makes things complicated.
+1 For pointing out the sad reality. :(
I've put an edit in my main post to cover this. I'm really talking about influence through education rather than just shouting it at people.
Ye, Google works with Opera like a charm too :S
Luckily, IT departments mandating IE6 are not usually too difficult to circumvent ;)
+11  A: 

Well, you could always tell them it is 8 years old. Probably older than their TV or car. Most people will willing upgrade to a newer model if they can get it free. Just put it in terms of other things (like cars and TVs) to get them an idea of how old it really is. This should work well with upper management types as they lose alot of technical focus...usually. :)

Too true. Thanks for the tip.
+1  A: 

I think that this is a problem that will sort itself out overtime. Newer apps are starting to use HTML5 features, something that I doubt IE will support within the next 5 years. This alone should start to move customers away from older browsers.

Rich Bradshaw
The "current economic climate" will slow infrastructure upgrade. I know what you say is correct but I'm not sure how long I can afford to keep maintaining things for IE6. If we get to 2012 and XP still has 10%, I'll likely be building sites against 4, maybe 5 versions of IE.
+6  A: 

Simple sales.

You have to find what motivates your users, and demonstrate to them how upgrading will benefit them.

The problem is for the users you're targeting (non-tech savvy usually, or else corporate policy bound), there isn't much to motivate them, other than scare tactics I suppose.

You could write very simple easy to maintain pages for IE only, and save the cool stuff for other browsers, and show them a preview of what another browser could do...

John Weldon
+2  A: 

All it takes is time, vista ships with IE7, windows 7 will ship IE8. Although corporations will not switch over overnight, time will fix this


Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

-- Alexander Pope

Mark Lutton
+23  A: 

Ignoring installations where IE6 is mandated, consider segmenting your application, with basic (though non-buggy and usable) functionality available to IE6 users, and advanced functionality available only to newer browsers. Draw users to newer browsers with the promise of cool stuff.

Michael Petrotta
This makes sense.
does it? like cool animation when you click the button? how would the ie6 users even know it exist? ie6 users live in groups.
@ABCDE: Look to Gmail for an example. "Click here for cool functionality." -> "Sorry, you've got IE6, you can't use this."
Michael Petrotta

Large organizations will only upgrade MSIE 6 when the security exploits become severe enough to make it dangerous to run MSIE 6.

The best thing that could happen to web standards is a really virulent virus that targets and works against MSIE 6.

I would downvote this answer if I could. This is like wishing for a 10-point earthquake to "teach those people who live near a faultline." Unprofessional.
Scott Ewers
Scott: You're right. It's not professional. Although some days with some CSS, I do dream of some megavirus coming along to destroy IE6.
Thats not an answer Scott. Its a wish. A good one.
No, it's realpolitik. Customers are more likely to respond to fear than a well reasoned professional discussion of the merits and defects of a browser.
Another point is that suggesting someone go write a virus targeting MSIE 6 is different from observing that the security defects of MSIE is one of the few things that would motivate a large company.
+2  A: 

If you're serving up content that your consumer base really cares about, but your site can't realistically function on IE 6, then I do a check if they're using browsers you don't support (IE 6) and if they are redirect them to a page specific to their browser (limited capabilities, not well supported, etc.) or just a page that says they're using a browser you don't support.

The point here is this: If they really care, then they'll harp on their IT department to get it installed. However, if you just let them use your site, but in a broken sense, then they'll just think your site is terrible and needs to get fixed.

Indeed. There are negative points to each solution. Block it: they're frustrated. Warn about it but let them use it: poor quality rendering. Fix it: my time goes out the window.
@Oli Exactly, the question is, which solution will most likely get you the result you desire? I would think Blocking it, or having a separate "IE6" site that gets NO improvements would probably be the way to go. Hopefully they'll try to remedy the situation.
+2  A: 

My current company still mandates IE6 and I suspect that it is because they have a lot of internal sites that don't work in IE7. There is not much you can do about that. At least I can also use Firefox for sites outside of the company.

Kathy Van Stone
+1  A: 

The best way I can think of getting people to upgrade awayfrom IE6 is to buy a new computer or upgrade their operating systems.

People don't keep IE6 because they like it. They keep it because their IT department requires it. This can be either because they have in house software which they cannot upgrade or because their IT department doesn't want to be bothered, but the former is more likely.

However, I believe XP is the last OS that you could get with IE6. Vista and Win7 don't support it so users and IT departments have no choice.

+5  A: 


I have been in your situation before. In all cases, I make sure my CSS and Javascript renders and works well in IE6, but then I add progressive enhancements for later browsers. Then I entice the customer by saying "I've added some extra things which you can see in newer browsers". This itself at most times makes them intrigued to make the switch.

It's a nice idea but it's hard to decide where the critical functionality (that users couldn't live without) ends and where the "nice fluff" starts. But yes. Curiosity may kill the IE6.
I don't know what your projects are, but it should be pretty obvious which parts of the the application are critical. If you can't determine which parts of your application are the crucial parts, you have bigger issues than it not working in IE6.
+2  A: 

I think for now the best thing is to deal with it. I'd try to make your site fully compatible with IE6 & up. But, you could still include browser detection in the site that tells the user that they're using a browser that may not work properly for your site.

I've seen sites do this before. Bank of America's online banking comes to mind. In the past they'd put up a message to this affect when you ran Google Chrome. You can have a warning message stating that the site may not work properly with your browser, even though it does for the most part. This is one way to encourage the user to upgrade. But it's a fine line. If you overdo it you'll inevitably scare off some users who are unwilling or unable (think public libraries, schools, etc) to upgrade their browser.

Steve Wortham
I'm surprised there aren't more people that do this. It's what I'm considering. At least while IE6 has more than 20% corporate market share in the US.
+5  A: 

Download IE8, Google Chrome, Safari, or Firefox and show them how much faster they render a page than IE6.

Tell them that request caching does not work correctly with IE6 either (if you're using IIS)

But in all honesty, show them the speed of the newer browsers, especially if you are doing anything with a lot of javascript. The new rendering speeds are phenomenal.

Jack Marchetti
Not a bad idea. I've been focussing on the woes of the old rather than the shinies of the new. And welcome to SO.
I was on a project about a year ago. .NET 3.5 using ASP.NET AJAX and we had to make sure the site was IE6 compatible. It was a nightmare.When we launched, all internal users couldn't access the new site, due to the problem with IIS compression. IE6 doesn't like it.When we showed the business stake holders how the site ran in chrome, safari etc.. they were blown away.
Jack Marchetti

You cannot convince people to upgrade. The only people left who have IE6 either don't care or work in large corporations/government who have no control over which browser they use.

A banner or warning is just going to annoy them all.

+3  A: 

GMail showed IE6/7 users a small unobtrusive notification to the effect of, "Want your GMail to work better/faster? Click here". The landing page offered upgrades to Chrome, FF3, and IE8.

I think if more sites spread the word about the end-user benefits of installing free, upgraded software from trusted names; that would go a very long way.

+1  A: 

You'd think that tabbed browsing would be enough of a selling point.

+1  A: 

The only way that you will be able to "force" upgrades is to create a must-have application for enterprise that requires the latest version of Internet Exploder to function.

Chances of that, however, are slim.

A far better option is to actually develop your web application with your target market in mind. If you are developing a product for enterprise where legacy browsers are the norm, then develop to cater for that.

You can only go so far in holding your visitors hand. If they are not willing to change their behaviour with browser choice then it really is not your problem.

At the end of the day, if we decided that we absolutely must cater for everyone, then you can forget all about any of the advancements that have been made in browser technology over the last 15 years and have (close on) 100% coverage. But thats just ridiculous.

Basically - develop for your target market using cross-browser compatible technologies and degrade functionality/styling as neccessary - and realise that you can't please everybody all the time

For my personal stuff, I completely agree. For less formal pro-stuff, sure, I might get away with it. But with corporate and b2b-sites (where the problem really lies), I have to be on top of everything and that's where I get the most pain. Any little slip ups and I'll get a call the same day it's noticed asking how long it'll take to fix.
It sounds to me like your clients don't understand their product if their target demographic is "everyone".
+1  A: 

i think the best way is to repackage your site only for IE7+(displaying the old version for IE6) and advertise it on your IE6 site in an attractive way like "NEW" "UPGRADE TO GO TO V2, the NEW FEATURED THING" and other deceptive but harmless ways of marketing :P . basically, make it attractive for them to move on to IE7/FF/etc. or people wont think it would be worth the effort.

the move would be logarithmically or even exponentially paced, i.e as users start moving, more users would get convinced its worth it, something like peer pressure :P


From my experiences, if you're having rendering issues, it's typically a deeper issues with your css. Typically, I make one stylesheet and it runs more or less identically in both IE and Firefox.

For example, centering a div using auto margins won't work in IE if you don't explicitly include a doctype. This is really a normal expectation for an html document so the rendering issue isn't an issue to begin with.

These sorts of things travel up the totem pole. Unless you're using ASP.NET web controls, you should have no trouble making your divs render correctly in all browsers using a single stylesheet.

+6  A: 

Here's a good one: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 will not support IE6.

This will force the majority of most large companies to upgrade.

Ben Scheirman
That's really interesting. MS could have fixed this years ago by just making an automatic update that installed without user interaction... But it's nice to finally see them trying to get rid of it.
I just read the link. You only need IE7+ for *authoring* content. And there's this: "For example, customers who are using Windows XP must transition to Service Pack 3 by July, 2010 and are eligible to receive support for Internet Explorer 6 until April, 2014." 2014!
Oh God... that's depressing. Content Authors are still a significant portion of our SharePoint user base, so you might still be able to win on that front.
Ben Scheirman
+1  A: 

You'd have to make a good argument. For example how FF is more secure because it generally runs using less privileges than IE6.

There was some funny img on digg, a notice from school admins upgrading to firefox, and that was one of the reasons.

edit: I use's script on my popular site to help those poor ie6 users upgrade :P

Nobody who's still running IE6 will change just because it's to a more secure browser, because anybody who will care about things like that has either moved to something different or is stuck on IE6.
David Thornley
I think you would still find a few inxeperienced people would switch, such as home users, but yea, I'd agreee in a coperate situation.
+1  A: 

You could prove it to them by scanning their machine with something like HiJackThis to show them how compromised their existing computer is by not having the latest IE.


Create one standard for the web. Then fix IE.

Jim Evans
+1  A: 

A few less fingernails and toes should convince them.


The last time I tried to upgrade to IE8 at home, I had to restore my disk ! (Real.)

Problems come as soon as you upgrade something without upgrading everything.

Web browsers are pretty complicated pieces of code and replacing them is always a risky business.

When my mom ask me what she should do with upgrade messages she's getting, I always tell her to ignore them. Nothing else.

And I'm a professionnal web developper... I write softwares that are used on a lot of browsers.

My answer : you should ask developers how to develop for existing browsers, not the next ones. As long as users are paying our salaries, how in the world can you tell them they are not right ?

Just asking : when your car dealer tells you that you car is out of date, do you believe him right away ?

No, of course.

The problem is on you side. Don't try to educate your customers, just try to educate your developers.

Your car dealer analogy is fallacious. We aren't trying to sell them new browsers.
"When my mom ask me what she should do with upgrade messages she's getting, I always tell her to ignore them." Wow is she going to get hacked off the face of the internet fast with that mentality. Security fixes should be applied. If you're worried about stability, you can do a test runs. IE6 is bad. It's the purest embodiment Microsoft at its worst, ignoring standards (that did exist then) and making up their own proprietary jazz. Using your analogy, IE6 is a very inefficient, feature poor, unreliable and unsafe banger. Only the cost to upgrade is a just a few minutes, not several £thousand.
Cars analogy : I don't think it's fallacious. We are trying to sell new versions of existing (and working!) softwares every day. We are trying to sell a new Internet every six mounths or so.
+2  A: 

IMO, essentially you're just wasting your time if you try to do this. No matter how much educating you do, as long as Windows XP is the dominant OS, you're still going to have to support IE6, because a good portion of IE users are just using what came with their OS and aren't going to upgrade, period. You might convince some people to upgrade, but you won't convince enough to make a difference in whether or not you continue to support IE6. It wasn't until Windows 98 finally went away that IE4 could safely be ignored.

If Windows 7 makes a better showing than Vista did, then perhaps in 3 years or so we won't have to worry about IE6 any more, but until then it's just a fact of life you'll have to deal with. If you want to convince people to upgrade simply because you want to help them have a better experience, then that might be a worthy goal, but trying to convince them to upgrade so that you no longer have to support that browser will just be an exercise in futility.

I agree totally. Nice answer.
+1  A: 

Are you aware of the Stop Living In the Past script? Just plop the script on your website to encourage IE6 users to upgrade, with a friendly, non-condemning message and link to the latest IE.

Judah Himango

I'm not an IE user so my comments will speak more to the software life cycle. Until Microsoft quits supporting it, and they may have (see my first statement), you're stuck supporting it. Once Microsoft abandons it, then you can abandon it unless you have a requirement or need to do otherwise in which case this question would be moot. At least one other person recommended branching your work to have a basic IE6 version and a more elaborate IE7/8 version. I don't know how web development is done, but in the embedded world I would be starting a new source branch with each new release of IE an merging just the bug fixes back to the previous branches. This keeps all the new feature development current with the latest product, in your case IE8. The point that the other contributor and i are trying to make with this is that people, including those who manage IT departments and large companies will eventually want the new features or will subcumb to the fact that there is no new development going on for their platform.

+2  A: 

If you're the vendor supporting a web application which your customer insists upon using with IE6 rather than an updated browser, I'd say try to offer them upgrade incentives (e.g. lower support contract fees, a one-time renewal discount, or some "enhanced" feature set which would magically be enabled once they upgrade their lowest common denominator browser-wise).

I'd agree with some of the previous sentiments mentioned about warning banners, they'd be annoying and useless.

If the company is so big and/or bureaucratic that they are a hard sell in terms of upgrading, it might take years for them to get "current". A hospital I once worked for was just finishing an upgrade to Windows NT 4 while XP had already been out a year.

Personally, if I had any influence over such a situation I would enclose with my annual invoice a very obvious raise in my support or dev fees substantially every year IE6 remains in use at the customer's site, while at the same time presenting them the attractively lower-priced option of upgrading their browser right alongside.

Darth Continent
+1  A: 

Simple!.. Newer versions have not been thoroughly tested and therefore are not supported!.. Newer versions of many software products also introduce unsuspecting passive features which are marketing oriented and even eavesdrop on confidential information!

Frank Computer
It's been 4 years since IE7 came out.
@Oli: May be 4 years in the market, but not for an enterprise using previous versions. In an enterprise, software upgrades are not immediately installed unless it has been thoroughly tested by the QA Dept. and only when it is absolutely necessary, thus reason why many enterprises are still running old versions, including legacy software!
Frank Computer