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Web browsers - IE6 is not good enough

In order to interact with and display the content of modern websites, web browsers must be of an adequate standard. Many local authorities require their staff to use Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 (IE6) which is over eight years old and has several known security vulnerabilities: concerns have been raised by both the German and French governments (BBC, 2010a and BBC, 2010b). In addition some important information providers, such as Google, no longer support IE6.

One reason cited for retaining IE6 was that it is required for legacy systems which might not work with more up-to-date versions of IE or with other browsers such as Firefox. This is a legitimate concern and a serious problem. One solution would be to install a modern browser for ‘web browsing’, leaving the older version purely for access to legacy systems.

Such an approach would, however, require a culture that embraced Web2.0 technologies as serious business tools. The attitude revealed by one respondent

just because ‘Web 2’ or whatever is supposed to have happened doesn't mean an organisation can deploy a new browser overnight.

would suggest Socitim’s vision of IT managers taking a leading role might not be universally welcomed. A newer version - IE7 - has been available since 2006.

In short, IE6 is widely regarded as an unsuitable browser for the modern web. A substandard browser leads to a poor user experience which can mask the real value of social networking tools. Offering substandard tools to users whose level of confidence in using IT is already low will not improve their confidence. In consequence they may be unlikely engage in, and to realise the full potential of, web based collaboration. Further, as technology continues to advance, the skills gap will only get bigger.

We would go further and argue that users should be encouraged to choose whichever browser they wish, be it Firefox, Opera or Safari. Not only would this relieve the IT department of the burden of deploying and maintaining new browsers, it would help create a confident and competent workforce.

In higher education institutions it is not unusual to allow users administrative control over their PC. Many choose not to depart from the default installation, but the option is there for those who wish a richer experience. Social workers are professional and responsible people and, with some instruction, is these any reason why they should not be be trusted to manage a desktop PC and act responsibly on the web?

Ian Watson's picture

Internet Explorer 6 - Microsoft explains why you should upgrade

Even Microsoft advises users to stop using IE6:

It is surprising, and depressing, the number of local authority users who have to use IE6.

Time to change!

If your IT manager is reluctant to change, suggest s/he looks at the official Microsoft advice