Making It Your Web

IE6Update And Pushup For The Web

  • Posted 17th Aug 2009 @ 15:29:12
  • Last update 24th May 2013 @ 18:01:35
  • By Alex Hall

Recently I have been conducting a fair bit of research regarding a finite resolution to one of the largest issues faced by web developers and web companies alike. Internet Explorer 6. The biggest question I have asked myself is "How on earth has this browser been around for so long, and why is it still here?".

It is now officially the oldest and yet still widely-used browser around, possibly because of the fact that it comes installed as standard on out-of-date Microsoft computers owned by large corporations and 'unupdatable' because the software used by these so-called 'large corporations' will not work on anything but.

The browser is 8 years old this year, and since it's release in 2001 has seem ONE major update. That's it. As you can imagine, since this update there have been so many new security issues facing browsers of the Internet and all other modern browsers such as Firefox, Opera, Safari and now Chrome have regular updates to target new bugs and security holes. Support stopped for IE6 A LONG TIME AGO, which means that anyone browsing with it now is constantly under potential threat by hack attempts, viruses and many other security breaches that clever 'script-kiddies' have written.

So what is the solution?

Unfortunately, there simply isn't one! That is the problem. If there were a solution that could wipe out IE6 and force everyone to upgrade it would have been rolled out a long time ago. There is some talk of Microsoft actually establishing a deadline for people who use IE6 to be forced to upgrade, but it is not finite as these companies that require the use of the browser would be lost if they were forced to update.

Some Browser Logos

However, there are some solutions out there to ease the process of reducing the number of users with IE6. And indeed, some developers have now completely given up all support for IE6 simply because it is deemed as pointless, expensive and time-consuming, something that today's still-growing Internet market can do without. So what are these so-called 'solutions'?

The first I came across is called IE6Update and it is a very cleverly written piece of javascript that mimics the Internet Explorer behaviour when a page requires a new plug-in to render correctly. The bar that appears at the top takes you straight to the download page for Microsoft update, which will inform IE6 users that they require the latest browser software and offer them a download link.

Whilst being clever it could also be contrived as devious because it is creating a false warning, for a false reason and fundamentally 'tricking' unaware IE6 users that they NEED to update their browser. It is likely to work in some cases, but has it's downfalls, such as:

  • As stated above corporations that require IE6 would get a lot of IT Support calls from their employees querying the need to update their browser
  • At the end of the day it is trickery
  • It does not force anything, which is a good thing, but it means that people who don't really know what they are doing would not be able to download the update anyway.
  • The code to produce it must contain some browser 'hacking' to just target IE6 users

I have also included a post in the comments section of this adding my two cents. You can read it here.

A better example?

The method I prefer is called 'Pushup' and instead of targeting Internet Explorer 6 users specifically, it targets anyone not browsing with the latest version of their browser (defined by the variables in the configuration section of the javascript). This means that if you are running Firefox 2, and 3 is set as the default in the config, a small, unobtrusive box will appear with a custom message stating (what ever you want it to!) that the browser being used is not the most up-to-date and we recommend updating to the latest version. It even includes a small icon for the browser and a link to the update pafe for that browser.

An Example Of This In Action

In my opinion this method is a lot better because there is no trickery, and no mimicary, just a small message stating that there is a update to the customers' browsers and if they wish they can update it. If not the message will disappear after a customisable period of time, and can even be set to not show again for a customisable period of time (by using cookies).

I have implemented this script on this site in an effort to promote the latest updates for browsers, which includes Internet Explorer 6. If you have seen it pop up, all you have to do is click the link!

Let me know what method you prefer by using the form below and adding a comment to this blog.

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