IE 6: No longer Good Enough to Download a Better Browser

September 15, 2012

While doing a fresh XP install this morning and waiting on a few updates to finish, I fired up IE6 to get a few of the downloads out of the way.

However, MSN.com, the default landing page for a clean XP install, is unusable in Internet Explorer 6. To be sure, I did a reboot too, with same effect, as I had been installing drivers[1][2].

Unusable to the point that it simply freezes and errors out each time I open it. This isn’t the first time I have run into this, but the furthest I can generally get before IE6 crashes is typing a word or two in the search box.

The work-around is to go into the control panel and change the default home page to Google, as even just opening IE 6 on MSN.com crashes it, when it tries to load.

As a web-developer, IE is often a source of pain. I don’t generally run into layout issues, aside from occasional bugs, certainly not as often as when I first started developing anyway and much less after the rise of IE7/8. However, it is still quite problematic and ties ones hands, not to mention obscure javascript issues and/or limitations, especially when you start working with forms or want to get even a little fancy.

I dropped free IE6 support some time ago too, now providing only IE7/8 legacy(occasionally very minimal) support with new designs, so I am more than ready to let the time-sink that is Internet Explorer 6 fade to obscurity.

So, I do see the humor in writing a post bemoaning the lack of IE6 support for anything.

However, it was Microsoft that saddled us with abomination that is Internet Explorer 6 and then essentially dropped it on us for 5+ years, basically as soon as Netscape(competition) went belly up stopping innovation. There is no telling the developer hours that move alone cost, not to mention the huge security problems Internet Explorer is responsible for. IE7/8 were fairly bad too, just the horror that was IE6 made them look so much better.

As such, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect a Microsoft to, at minimum, assure that their flagship pages will load in IE6. Even better, provide a simple landing page to facilitate upgrades could make life so much easier.

Windows XP install still has at least 2 more years of official support(longterm support being a selling point of windows,) and being able to do a search and or open the browser from a fresh install doesn’t really seem like asking a lot. Especially when there is so much opportunity there to get people to upgrade to IE8.

[1] Because I was curious, I checked again after installing Service Pack 3. It just redirects to a blank page that appears to be related to a Facebook error, MSN.com is still unusable, unless you click on something before the redirect, but it isn’t crashing anymore.

[2] Don’t get me started on having to install a Lan driver in 2012, so fundamental and a basic need to do anything else. I understand XP, but even sometimes with Windows 7 I find that I need to dig up a network driver.

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