Tech with Tom: Internet Explorer 6 must die

Editor’s note: Tech with Tom Kirkham is intended to provide practical information about a wide range of electronic products, software and communication issues. Tom has promised to use layman terms, where possible, and to avoid geeky acronyms unless using said acronyms are the build-up to an off-color joke built largely around sophomoric innuendo. Seriously, this should be good stuff and it will post on the second and fourth Friday of each month (barring any breaking news from Steve Jobs or elsewhere in the Tech world). Enjoy.

Listen carefully. If you are running Internet Explorer to browse Web sites, go to “Help -> About” and check the version number. If it is version 6.x or older, at the very least upgrade to IE8, or even better, just say no to Internet Explorer and browse safer and faster with Google Chrome (my favorite), Firefox, Safari or Opera.

Here’s why: Internet Explorer sucks. A lot. Web designers cuss it. A lot. More to the point, Internet Explorer 6 sucks out loud. Over the years, Microsoft, for various reasons, has failed to provide a fully standards-compliant browser. Even Internet Explorer 8 is not standards compliant.

Why do we care about standards compliance? Let me tell you how a Web developer builds Web sites: The site is built to be (or should be) standards compliant. Then the programmer checks it with Firefox, Safari, and Opera (no Web site designer would dare use IE as his default browser). If the site looks good, he then goes back and writes code to “fix” the site when viewed with IE6. Next, he goes back and fixes the site to be viewed correctly in IE7. Finally, he fixes the site for IE8. Yes, separately. Special code for each version. See now why IE sucks? This is maddening and it shouldn’t be this way.

To be fair, few browsers are 100% compliant (the most generally accepted tests are Acid2 and Acid3, but the others are much closer. Microsoft promises to make IE9 more compatible, but really, in spite of Microsoft’s progress and promises, it is now time to move on and use a better, safer browser.

IE also suffers from various security vulnerabilities (the Google China hack job is tied to IE vulnerabilities), and I believe it is partly responsible for allowing computers to be infected with the various forms of the fake virus warning and subsequent computer infections with real viruses.
This is not a just a Tom rant. French and German governments are now urging their citizens to abandon Internet Explorer. There is even an IE6 No More Web site. Google is abandoning support for IE6 starting March 1 for some of its sites and apps. My radio show Web site encourages (some would say nags) visitors to upgrade or use another browser.

Yes, I know there are some sites that are only IE compatible (and these are thankfully becoming harder and harder find), but just install Chrome, Firefox or Safari, designate it to be your default browser, and then only use IE when you absolutely have to. Better yet, complain to the company for building an IE-only Web site – it is not a good idea.

The City Wire site statistics tell us that there were more than 5,000 visits using IE6. The City Wire developers really don’t like that, so someday soon, you might not even be able to visit this site without getting nagged to death.

And really, who can live without reading the witticisms of Mr. Tilley?

Notes on Tom
Tom Kirkham is the publisher and co-owner of The City Wire. Tom also is host of the Tom Kirkham Show on Newstalk KWHN 1320 AM, which airs each Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. He also owns and operates Kirkham Systems, a computer, communication and networking company. Tom has more than 20 years of experience in business and technology, and claims to be a photographer, jazz lover, Cajun food expert and dog rancher.


You can reach Tom at

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