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UK Government Rejects Calls To Upgrade From IE6 233

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-was-good-enough-for-churchill dept.
pcardno writes "The UK government has responded to a petition encouraging government departments to move away from IE6 that had over 6,000 signatories. Their response seems to be that a fully patched IE6 is perfectly safe as long as firewalls and malware scanning tools are in place, and that mandating an upgrade away from IE6 will be too expensive. The second part is fair enough in this age of austerity (I'd rather have my taxes spent on schools and hospitals than software upgrade testing at the moment), but the whole reaction will be a disappointment to the petitioners." Update: 07/31 11:43 GMT by S : Dan Frydman, the man who launched the petition, has posted a response to the government's decision.
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UK Government Rejects Calls To Upgrade From IE6

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  • Cleanup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @02:23AM (#33093432) Journal

    The second part is fair enough in this age of austerity (I'd rather have my taxes spent on schools and hospitals than software upgrade testing at the moment), but the whole reaction will be a disappointment to the petitioners."

    That AutoRun virus that was going around a while back, how much did that cost to clean up?

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Re:Frosty Pizzo? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 31, 2010 @02:23AM (#33093434)

    The internet itself has become terrible.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @02:29AM (#33093450) Journal
    The petition creators goofed, they started it out with this sentence:

    The German and French governments have started to encourage people to upgrade away from the browser Internet Explorer 6

    Heh, can't start copying the French and Germans now, can we? Next thing you know we'll be on the Euro! That killed it right there. Made it politically unfeasible. All those petition signers are stupid francophiles.

  • Re:Cleanup (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @02:52AM (#33093536)
    Upgrading may or may not prevent problems. Many times it's a huge hassle with little or negative improvement. I don't upgrade software OR hardware any more just because I can; it's too much trouble, so I wait until I have a specific reason.
  • Dictionary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:08AM (#33093598) Homepage Journal
    Someone should inform them about the meaning of targetted attack. Malware detectors find widely known malware, but could have little clue about things made specially against you.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:11AM (#33093608)

    I think they are stupid, upgrading for IE8, and then? IE9 arrives, they can start all over, the should change there browser, use firefox or chrome or anyting else, at least then, when Ie9 of Ie10 comes out, it will start to work better instead of working different...

    Until microsoft has join the other browser developers in compatibility, every next version will be a different beast to program against. Yes I know IE9 is better, but as long as it isn't finished, and a lot of people haven't used it, it's still not there, you can't use it... And I'm not going to install it...

    At the moment I need XP + IE7, Windows 7+IE8, and no IE8 compatibility mode is not equals to IE7.

    So IE9 has no place yet here... At least firefox you can install on the same machine more than once, by using different profiles...

  • Myopia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:21AM (#33093640) Homepage Journal
    The consideration about costs is right, if you defer security decisions so much that you're still running IE6 in 2010.
    The consideration about firewalls and scanners is also right, if your policy is to go on patching a broken roof instead or making proper repairs.
    God save the Great Britain (as well as the Little one)!
  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:22AM (#33093648)

    I have a bit of a mantra when I talk about IE6. Whenever anyone asks me why anyone would run IE6, I give this response:
    Assume IE 6 earns them 1 million dollars a day. If they stop using IE6. They start losing 1 million dollars a day. Thats the reality of the situation.

    That's about the most nonsensical thing I've ever heard. If this is your mantra, then you should not be employed anywhere, for any job.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:29AM (#33093678)

    The truth is that critical applications depend on IE6 to function, and upgrading from IE6 would cause work to stop.

    I wasn't aware that you could only have one browser installed on a computer at a time. What's wrong with installing Firefox for 99% of tasks, and also having IE6 available for the obsolete and soon to be extinct tasks that require it?

  • by Skrynesaver (994435) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:34AM (#33093692) Homepage
    When you are a large institution who have (over)paid consultants to create workflow tools on your intranet, upgrading is far from free. The new approved browser will have to be validated against your existing tools, then you'll have to do rewrites where you had horrible IE6 kludges. The cost of the software isn't the issue, it's the cost of delivering your applications on that platform that is the issue.

    With that said it provides a wonderful example of why organisations should avoid proprietary extensions to standards. One day the world will move on and you'll be stuck with an un-integrateable piece of shit platform.

  • by Ice Tiger (10883) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:36AM (#33093696)

    That's why as part of your upgrade you upgrade / fix those apps to work on a modern browser, the alternative is you come to day when you can't upgrade anything in your IT ecology due to everything being so brittle.

    Another way of looking at things is that as IE6 gets dropped from supported browser lists over the next few years you can be faced with the situation of critical app a stuck with IE 6 but critical app b needing to be upgraded but because it has dropped support for IE 6 you can't without incurring massive project costs.

    Not keeping your software at least to supported versions is a false economy, much like the money you save not putting oil in your car, that is of course until the engine seizes.

  • by JohnVanVliet (945577) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:51AM (#33093766) Homepage

    "Unless you use old ActiveX programs that don't support newer versions of IE, that is."
    And if you are , then you DESERVE to get infected.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Saturday July 31, 2010 @03:58AM (#33093792)

    Actually, the tech details are just pushing a .MSI file out with IE8, or just approving it from a WSUS server.

    My rant: IE6 is 10 year old technology. A Web browser is on the front lines of keeping a machine secure, almost as much so as a router. IE6 is meant to deal with spyware from the year 2001. Not the botnets and SCADA-seeking malware of 2010. Anyone who has any sense can see this.

    There is just no reason to run IE6 on XP unless it is testing backlevel versions. IE8 fixes a lot of security issues. Even Windows XP needs to be binned because it is going to be a decade old, and organizations need to move forward to operating systems more able to handle the security issues of this decade.

    This doesn't even need a car example, but a war example: You don't send out Greek phalanxes in formation against people with 10,000 rpm chainguns, Apache helicopters, and flamethrowers. Fielding Windows XP is doing just this.

    The blackhats, phishers, scammers, spammers, criminals, and other miscreants are not going to be easing up attacks anytime soon. So why deal with threats of 2010 with an OS made nine years ago?

    Of course, firewalls mitigate this, but there is something sort of wrong with compensating for a poor OS's security by having to fortify the router and perimeter instead of having the OS be reliable enough so a blackhat isn't home free once they get into the core network fabric.

  • Sad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sugarmotor (621907) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @04:07AM (#33093824) Homepage

    Sad that something which appears so trivial turns out to be expensive.

    Stephan

  • Yes sad indeed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pawnipt (822998) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @04:16AM (#33093846)
    Can IE6 even render half of the internet anymore?! I don't believe facebook even works for it, not that facebook is educational lol. You know damn well all the kids at school are going to be like "Man this really sucks!"
  • by rapiddescent (572442) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @05:09AM (#33094020)

    most of the large ukgov departments have outsourced their IT support to companies like HP, Fujitsu, Logica, Capita and so on. Due to the ukgov ineptitude of writing good outsource contracts - an IE upgrade is off plan and so the outsourcer (in a monopoly position at that department) simply charge the earth - even if it is just to roll out an update automatically. Excuses such as testing, and verification of intranet applications simply make the cost even higher

  • Re:Cleanup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phoenix321 (734987) * on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:22AM (#33094226)

    Software being too old, insecure and barely compatible is reason enough. A browser is a must-have piece of software nowadays and if you absolutely depend on a specific version of a specific product line, you're doing things wrong in the first place.

    As IE6 is absolutely not available on any new version of Windows, it's effectively holding back all significant upgrades on the core operating system. Without updates to the operating system, the entire IT landscape is not only severely hobbled for innovation, but thoroughly insecure on major issues.

    Don't allow yourself to fall prey to the illusion that software upgrades are an entirely voluntary - or useless - effort. In the best possible scenarios, holding back upgrades is saving a few percent of the cost and postponing the rest of upgrade expenditures. In friendly real-world scenarios, it's not saving any, merely postponing all upgrade costs. In any case, it's very very likely that during decade-long upgrade holdouts, IT department will lose it's edge and sharpness, get complacent and behind on the current state-of-the-art. And with that, the whole company will lose its pace.

    Upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 is easy. Upgrading from XP to Windows 7 is a major undertaking and upgrading from any older version is financial disaster.

    Just because you CAN use old equipment until it literally falls apart, it doesn't mean it's the most sensible or cost-effective option to do so.

  • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:41AM (#33094278)

    If I earned a million bucks a day by using IE6, I would sure as Hell put half a million aside for upgrading to the next version of that browser or even migrate to a browser I can upgrade independently from the core operating system.

    Eating all you earn and not planning one or two years ahead is a mistake that even in prehistoric times happened only once per tribe.

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:01AM (#33094348)

    That's about the most nonsensical thing I've ever heard. If this is your mantra, then you should not be employed anywhere, for any job.

    Yet your post is one sided at best and naive at worst. If your company has 30000 employees who use tools that they quite heavily depend on that only runs on one particular application and you push out and update because "hahah I'm IT and I make the rules" which breaks everything then YOU should not be employed anywhere.

    IT is an internal service. If IT just focuses on the enterprise (security, stability etc) at the expense of usability then the IT department should be dissolved and rebuilt (the reverse is also true). You the admin may push an update to IE6 to my computer once you have replaced all, and I mean ALL of the applications that depend on it, and in the fortune 50 company I work for that's actually a lot of web based applications. How you do it, and who funds it is none of my concern. This is a discussion for your department to make with upper management.

    Don't forget, users are a nice and quiet bunch of people ... when everything is working.

  • by rawler (1005089) <ulrik@mikaelsson.gmail@com> on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:06AM (#33094364)

    Blame Microsoft, their ruthless tactics led to that situation.

    Fool me once: shame on you.
    Fool me twice...

  • Re:Cleanup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gonoff (88518) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:24AM (#33094430)

    Software being too old, insecure and barely compatible

    old
    What is the inherent problem with software just being old? Do some of the bits fall off? Some of the bytes?

    insecure
    Many people here would remind you that it is insecure because of what it is - MS Windows. If you are going to replace it with MS Windows, it will still be insecure. Large organisations spend a lot of time keeping it secure. That is why people tell me they are not happy about our rules on what you can connect to our network, rules on USB, security policies and much much more.

    barely compatible
    That is a lot better that Vista which is not compatible at all and Windows 7 which needs to run a virual machine to be able to run most "corporate" applications.
    In fact, this is the big killer. We have completely avoided Vista because major applications would not work. Now we are being told that we need to roll out an operating system that will not run on a reasonable fraction of our estate. Then, to make things work, we need to have XP on all of them as well?

    Yes, I know that if we have to have the applications rewritten, getting them to work in a grown-up operating system would be a good idea and making all web apps browser agnostic is a must. That costs money now. Carrying on pushes it into the future.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:53AM (#33094526)

    Yet your post is one sided at best and naive at worst. If your company has 30000 employees who use tools that they quite heavily depend on that only runs on one particular application and you push out and update because "hahah I'm IT and I make the rules" which breaks everything then YOU should not be employed anywhere.

    How does deploying Firefox remove the ability to run IE6?

    IT is an internal service. If IT just focuses on the enterprise (security, stability etc) at the expense of usability then the IT department should be dissolved and rebuilt

    What the hell does IE6 have to do with usability? If you'ev ever used any of these IE6 based web "applications" you would know that they are the least usable products on the market.

    Don't forget, users are a nice and quiet bunch of people ... when everything is working.

    Again, how does installing Firefox stop things from working?

  • by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:54AM (#33094532)

    The blackhats, phishers, scammers, spammers, criminals, and other miscreants are not going to be easing up attacks anytime soon. So why deal with threats of 2010 with an OS made nine years ago?

    You seem confused a little. The marketing/branding event "Windows XP" happened 9 years ago, yes. But the last time Microsoft updated Windows XP was few days ago, and they update it for today's threats, not those from 9 years ago.

    Do you remember we had SP1, SP2 and SP3? SP2 was six years ago, pretty big update. SP3 is from only two years ago.

    Of course, Windows Vista/7 can be more secure in some select scenarios, due to some select features it introduced. It's not as black as white as you want it to be.

    P.S. Greek phalanxes and Apache helicopters are separated by about 3000 years, not 9 years, you get scores for drama, but I gotta take them back for lac of accuracy.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:16AM (#33094612) Homepage

    On the surface, IE6 is free as is IE7 and IE8. So why would it be "expensive" to upgrade? Oh yeah... the man-hours spent and the applications that depend on IE6 are also considerations to make. Hrmmm... This is just the first thought in the realization that not adhering to open standards could be a costly mistake and that vendor lock-in, even one as large and ubiquitous as Microsoft, can lead to an extremely costly future.

    I wonder, then, if the UK Government will start to reach a conclusion similar to the London Stock Exchange with regard to Microsoft. While the reason to switch would be quite different, the general reason would be about the same -- "staying with this vendor can, has and will lead to disaster." Moving forward, using open standards that multiple vendors can participate in will lead to a more flexible situation where, once again, the decisions about where to go next is not in the hands of the vendor.

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:33AM (#33094690)

    They do NOT go to the lowest priced vendor, since the lowest priced vendor charges 0, and they took instead one that takes nearly as much as the hardware costs.

    Hiring fewer more skilled admins rather than a horde of MCSEs would be financially beneficial as well.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @09:07AM (#33094822) Homepage

    > Most people do know what a browser is.

    Many don't even know what software is (though they will glibly assert that they know all about "technology" because they are adept with their 'pods).

    > There are a few people around (like the elderly) who don't understand the concept.

    Some of the elderly admit that they know little about computers. This puts them ahead of those who know a whole lot that isn't true.

  • Re:Cleanup (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mpe (36238) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:33AM (#33095200)
    But the real reason to not get too much behind on upgrading is user experience: switching from XP to Vista feels differently, but not a whole lot. Switching from Vista to Win7 is also noticeable with the GUI and interface, but with even less differences than before. But switching from XP to 7 is quite a jump.

    Would this "jump" be any smaller going from XP to Ubuntu? Which also means getting rid of complex to administer software licence systems, EULAs, CALs, etc, etc.
  • Re:Frosty Pizzo? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <barbara.hudson@D ... com minus painte> on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:22AM (#33095498) Journal

    Maybe it doesn't support rounded corners, but now that all the major crap has been fixed, I'll do my rounded corners with a few css background: (url://foo.com/round.png) and call it good.

    I can now do web sites entirely within linux, boot a laptop temporarily into windows, and guess what - it WORKS.

    I don't need any browser sniffing, any shims, any of the crap that people have been using for years. xmlhttprequest is the same object across all browsers now so no checking for different methods for creating a new one.

    THAT is what we've been asking for for a decade.

    Now as for this:

    Most creative and software development companies are forced by government department clients to build websites for IE6 when most of the industry has moved on.

    Nobody is forced - you can always give them a separate url with a fugly site and tell them that it's to partition off the insecure users of IE6. Bring along a laptop to show them what they're missing. Tell them they don't have to upgrade from IE6 - they can always use Opera or Forefox in addition ... it's not a binary either-or choice.

    After all, a fully-patched system is also just as safe for Firefox or Opera as it is for IE6. Or don't they really believe that their systems are secure, and it's just hand-waving.

    I ran into a $16 billion company Thursday that still is on IE6. Will I change anything so my product works with them? No - its chasing the tail of the market. At some point in the next year or two they're going to have to upgrade anyway.

    The last boss who insisted on pixel-perfect IE6 compatibility stopped complaining all of a sudden when his favorite porn site (or was it his favorite poker site) forced the upgrade issue. If you believe that people's reasons for not upgrading are based on logic or economics, you're mistaken. Those are justifications or excuses, but the real reason is inertia (or they would have switched to Firefox or Opera long ago).

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