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IE6 Development Blog – Microsoft’s Position

August 13, 2009 Leave a comment

My reply to the IE6 Development Blog posting:

17% of the people ‘don’t feel a need to upgrade’ because they don’t understand the issues. They don’t understand how much time developers spend making their sites work with IE6. Sites drop IE6 because it holds them back.

Organizations don’t want to upgrade because they’ve got some legacy code that *only* works on IE6. They haven’t got the time or money to re-engineer their code to work with a modern browser.

Therefore, sites will continue to turn off support for IE6 because it’s too costly to maintain it. Organizations will eventually move their codebase away from IE6.

And you expect people to upgrade? Microsoft placed organizations and web developers between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Why on Earth would we upgrade and risk being placed in this position again? I’d rather place my trust and that of my organization somewhere else whether that’s Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

Supporting IE6 to 2014 doesn’t help to educate users about the issues or why they should move on. You have a better product, IE8, make them upgrade – it’s not like the XP to Vista debacle. Are you telling me you’ll support XP for the next ten years because we ‘don’t feel a need to upgrade’? Not bloody likely.

Microsoft says it will support Internet Explorer 6 until 2014 and supports users that “don’t feel the need to upgrade”. Two years ago, Microsoft said it was going to drop support for Windows XP so that we were all forced to upgrade to Vista. When people started complaining and businesses started avoiding Vista, Microsoft relented and extended the support for XP. They knew that people saw Vista as a step backwards. Corporate customers also knew that upgrading Office 2003 to 2007 was going to be expensive and avoided it.

How many large organizations still use Office 2003 on Windows XP? A significant number.

We didn’t want to move from XP to Vista because it was buggy, required new hardware and changed the whole OS experience which means high costs for the implementation. So enterprises skipped it. Microsoft’s bottom line felt it and did something about it. They extended XP support and pushed the released of Windows 7.

It now seems that Windows 7 is a viable replacement for XP and most enterprises are probably planning upgrades from XP to Windows 7, skipping Vista entirely and also looking at an Office upgrade. Microsoft will also push everybody into doing it by dropping support for XP and not releasing any more patches.

So why don’t they do this with Internet Explorer 6? They have a new product that’s actually pretty good, it’s similar to Opera, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. It represents few problems for developers and isn’t an issue.

IE6 was released just a few months before XP (August 2001 vs October 2001). IE7 was released five years later (October 2006) and quickly followed by IE8 (March 2009). Why didn’t Microsoft release an update for five years? It didn’t have to. For this 5 year period, IE was used by 85% or more of the browsers around the world. They only released IE7 because their market share waned and has been in free-fall ever since.

Microsoft don’t want people to move from IE6 because they know that they may move from Microsoft altogether. The Internet and web technologies are becoming the key technology within any corporation. We are moving from the desktop OS to a browser-based experience and IE tools are not there yet. They didn’t expect the world to go this way and they were caught on the hop. They’ve been talking about an online version of Office for a while but it’s not there, they’re already playing catch-up to Google or Zoho. It took Microsoft long enough to update the Hotmail interface.

Microsoft didn’t want browser-based products to succeed, it undermined their desktop world and sales of Office. For the past few years they’ve been trying to catch-up and realized that only by using IE8 can you deliver online services.

Microsoft could tell you to upgrade from IE6 and force your hand but it would just be another slap in the face to all of those organizations that trusted Microsoft so they’re staying quiet and will push you to upgrade your OS instead. That battle isn’t as bad for their image.

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Is it Time to Uninstall Internet Explorer in the Enterprise?

August 13, 2009 1 comment

Enterprises and other large organizations tend to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as it’s free and comes bundled with the operating system. It’s a simple choice that requires little effort and provides a level of functionality that most users are completely satisfied with. Therefore, it appears to be a no-brainer for cash starved IT departments or those that are already using the Microsoft product portfolio.

However, Microsoft knows this and it’s all part of an elaborate marketing game that some enterprises are wising up to.

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The Demise of Apple

August 3, 2009 Leave a comment

My technology instincts tell me that the past few days have marked a turning point in Apple’s growth.

  • The furore over the removal of all Google Voice applications from the app store and the FCC’s resultant investigation.
  • The revelation of the security hole in the iPhone (and other cellphones) but Apple’s silence on the matter until they revealed a 280MB patch to fix it.
  • The stupidity of iTunes blocking the Palm Pre and Palm’s counter development to re-open it.
  • And today’s resignation of Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, from Apple’s board.

Apple has shown it’s arrogance, stupidity and proved that closed markets don’t work. It has elevated itself to a position where hackers are now targetting the platform and has reached the point of no return. Unfortunately, I only see the continued path downwards with one product after another starting to fail.

Microsoft have been attacked and criticized for their dominance and monopoly so I find it strange that any other company would want to mould itself the same way. Sure, the money’s good but it’s short-lived. Innovation is a far better business objective rather than profit. Profits should be a consequence of good innovation and Microsoft are only seeing this now. They know they’re losing out to Google and about to lose out in the future. Their browser market share is shrinking and it’s only a matter of months before Firefox eclipses Internet Explorer usage in Europe. The rest of the world will follow shortly as the World gets smarter and chooses a better browser.

I don’t understand why any sane observer would choose to follow the same path. Google is a dominant player with similar monopolies on key technologies but they’re not hated. Hackers don’t target them and their continual support of developers through the release of APIs, Google Code and tools continue to attract support. It is this continued path of open practices and support by the developer community that will pave a much stronger foundation into the future.

I would never write an iPhone application. Why would any developer spend so much time and effort developing for a platform that may never release the project? And even if they did there’s no guarantee that Apple wouldn’t change it’s mind and remove the application just as it did to all of those Google Voice applications. Apple now expects those developers to refund Apple’s customers because of Apple’s decision. I’m sure we can expect a lawsuit in the coming days.

Goodbye iPhone, thanks for the influence and innovation you gave to the market, we’ll take it from here though.

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Internet Explorer 8 – Get The REAL Facts

June 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Microsoft has started it’s ‘get the facts’ campaign around its new browser, Internet Explorer 8. In typical Microsoft style though, it’s nothing less than a glorious smoke and mirrors marketing campaign. It reminds me of the PC and Mac advert where PC is deciding how much money to spend on fixing the problems with Vista or marketing it. When Mac questions the ratio, PC decides in his wisdom to spend it all on marketing.

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