IE 6 Compatibiltiy: Stop Blaming the People who are Getting it Right

February 23, 2010

Recently on the CD Forums we’ve seen some chatter about CD 2.0 not working with IE 6, and I say “Great!” Now let’s hope everyone else in the world decides to ditch it.
So many other people have written much better explanations for the need to eliminate IE 6, so I won’t go over that ground. But the number one complaint I’ve heard from people who are stuck using a browser which is nearly 10 years old, is that they use other applications which only support IE 6. As it relates to CD, the complaint usually revolves around a partner in collaboration who uses a proprietary software which isn’t compatible with Internet Explorer 7 or greater. That they’re locked into using IE 6 by an oppressive IT regime which won’t even let them update their Facebook pages from time to time, or check out some LOL Cats on their lunch breaks. I feel for you. That must suck.
But, at some point, you have to ask yourself, “who is to blame? Should I blame Central Desktop, for acknowledging that IE 6 is a broken, dying browser full of security holes and unable to provide our customers the best experience? Or should I, rather, direct my righteous indignation at the maker of whatever proprietary software hasn’t, in the last ten years, been able to bring their software up to date?”
Maybe 10 years is a little harsh. IE 7 has been out for 5 years now, however, and that’s 5 years that the maker of whatever proprietary software could have used to only be one iteration of a browser behind. (P.S. They also missed out on the opportunity to pick up any users of Firefox, Safari, Opera or Chrome, etc. etc. etc.)
I guess I’m just amazed that I have seen so much outrage directed at the guys that are getting it right.
How many times have you seen a guy screaming outside of a gas station because they don’t have leaded gasoline for his 1955 Buick? Maybe I should throw a fit and complain to NBC when I can’t watch the 2022 Olympics on my analog television. Maybe I could complain that my Sony BluRay player doesn’t play my BetaMax cassettes. People still use those. They had a better quality than VHS, dang it!

Why are people actually demanding that Central Desktop take a step back, and accommodate an inferior browser that is losing market share steadily? That helps no one. It certainly doesn’t help the 80% of users who use a browser that takes advantage of the latest web standards. It doesn’t help Central Desktop, at all, when they have to spend extra time and money (guess who gets to pick up that extra investment, by the way) to engineer a version that is compatible with a browser that is nearly ten years old. And most importantly, it doesn’t help the few holdouts who produce a product that relies on an archaic browser. If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at the guys that are getting it wrong, and have been for the last decade.

I collaborate over Central Desktop with a vendor who is forced to use IE 6. The majority of their users use a third party software that “doesn’t support any browser other than IE 6.” The people I work with don’t go near it. But their centralized IT department couldn’t care less about anything but the lowest common denominator. So everyone, in every building, regardless of their actual needs uses IE 6. I can completely empathize with those who are upset that Central Desktop 2.0 is cramping their style. So, in an effort to not just turn this into a rant, I’ll share a few workarounds Ideas.

Install the portable version of Firefox on a flashdrive and give it to the point person you work with. Pre-configure it to work with their proxy, set all of the bookmarks she might need to use your CD implementation, and set her loose with it. Portable Firefox, which doesn’t actually install anywhere, can very easily be copied from the flashdrive to the local machine, and executed without a hitch.  If you’re geographically limited, you can zip up the whole works, and load it to Central Desktop. Just put some good instructions in the file description.

Of course, the portable Firefox (they also make a Chrome version, but I’ve had problems trying to configure proxies.) method only works if the user can execute a portable app from either the desktop or a flashdrive. This could also meancircumventing another company’s IT policies, which is another issue to consider.

If the portable method doesn’t suit you, try taking advantage of CD’s email capabilities. A user with a limiting browser can participate in discussions, create and comment on tasks, receive files from you (make sure you copy the link that goes directly to the download of the file) or even email new files or discussions to a specific folder, all from the comforts of their email inbox. (Probably Outlook 2000, am I right?) Be sure to check out CD’s help pages on using CD through your email. (It looks like some of the help files are down now, as they refresh them for the new UI.)

Along the same lines as email control of CD is the Outlook Plugin. With this plugin, a user can sync their calendars and tasks in CD with their outlook calendars and tasks, and also upload files directly into any folder in any workspace they have access to. This method, like the portable Firefox method, is going to be dependent on the level of IT Lockdown the user is experiencing. But if the only argument against a decent browser is ‘we need IE 6 for our software,’ then the IT department might be able to be persuaded to allow the installation of the Outlook Plugin.

One of these options might work for you, if you’re stuck with IE 6. While I can’t guarantee that any one of these proposals would spell an end to the woes of using a ten year old browser, I can guarantee that trying one of these ideas would be more productive than asking a forward thinking company to take a step backward.


3 Responses to “IE 6 Compatibiltiy: Stop Blaming the People who are Getting it Right”

  1. Cory Says:

    All solid points.

    I am continually perplexed by IT departments (especially in our federal, state and local governments) who are unable to realize the massive cost they are forcing by not allowing the use of newer browsers, blocking web sites (Central Desktop, Google Docs, etc.), and the like. The do it all in the name of productivity or security when, in fact, they are actually decreasing productivity and increasing security risks (IE6). I’d be willing to bet they wouldn’t have to block certain sites and scripts for security purposes if they would just allow a newer browser to be used. (Conspiracy theory: job security?)

    At any rate, solid points and nice workarounds. I wish I could try the mobile version on flash drive but unfortunately our clients can’t even use flash drives. I’ll give the e-mail idea a shot but seems like a big barrier for adoption.

  2. Cory Says:

    Also… you might want to attend. 🙂

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