A prominent Norwegian Web site is spearheading a movement to get users to abandon Microsoft’s widely-used but aging Internet Explorer 6 browser.
IE6 doesn’t follow established standards for presenting Web pages and has security problems, according to online marketplace FINN.no, which is asking users to upgrade to IE7, Mozilla’s Firefox or Opera Software’s browser.
FINN.no (“finn” means “find” in Norwegian) has to spend disproportionate effort tweaking its site to make it work with IE6, time that would be better spent introducing more tools for the site, wrote Erlend Schei, a Web developer for FINN.no.
The problem with IE goes back years. Microsoft developed IE before some Web standards, such as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and RSS, were developed. As IE become dominant, Web developers wrote applications to work with IE rather than to Web standards.
The playing field changed as browsers such as Firefox came on the market in 2004, striving to accommodate World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. But since the majority of Web users were using IE, it meant developers spent lots of time to ensure their pages were compatible with all browsers.
Microsoft said when it released IE7 that it adhered more closely to W3C standards such as CSS, but critics complained the company didn’t go far enough, and older Web pages still didn’t render right.
Microsoft is claiming that its latest browser, IE8, will be the most standards-compliant one it has ever released. IE8 is in release candidate 1 status, with a final release due in a few months.
IE6 was introduced with Microsoft’s XP operating system in 2001 and had hung around for a surprisingly long time. Many new netbooks and other PCs that ship with XP still come with a copy of IE6, even though IE7 was released in October 2006.
FINN.no said around 17 percent of its 4.2 million users are still on IE6. According to figures from NetApplications, which tracks browser market share by version, IE6 holds 19.21 percent of the market, still more than the latest version of Firefox, 3.0, which holds an 18.3 percent share.
FINN.no said it appears companies have lagged behind home users in upgrading the browsers on their systems.
Other Norwegian Web sites are also picking up on the idea, posting notices encouraging people to upgrade. An “IE6 Warning Campaign” has also been launched on Facebook, with links to other Web sites that let Web developers cut and paste code that puts a warning on their own site.
A wiki page is also keeping track of information and Web sites worldwide advocating the upgrade.
Microsoft could not be immediately reached for a comment.