Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

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nitePhyyre
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Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:57 pm UTC

CBC.ca wrote:In an attempt to "make the Internet a better place", one online retailer is taking aim at a much-maligned web browser: Internet Explorer 7.

Kogan, an Australian electronics shop, has declared that a 6.8 per cent 'IE 7 tax' will be added onto the bill of any customer who uses the browser to make a purchase. The tax, they say, is designed to offset the cost of making websites look "normal" in the 6-year-old web browser.

"But don't worry, unlike other taxes, we're making it easy to get around this one with a simple upgrade away from IE 7," wrote the company on its blog.

"Customers who enter our site using Internet Explorer 7 can avoid the impost by simply downloading an up-to-date browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Opera or even a more recent version of Internet Explorer."

As Mashable pointed out, users who attempt to buy products from Kogan using IE 7 won't actually be taxed. The 6.8 per cent surcharge appears initially when a customer places an order, but is deducted on the final payment screen.

Kogan's tongue-in-cheek campaign may be more publicity stunt than money grab, but the fake tax has sparked a real conversation about the economic consequences of designing websites to be compliant with out-of-date web browsers.

"If we choose to make a website pixel-perfect in Internet Explorer 6 to 8, then we are doing up to 100 per cent more work," wrote Greek Web developer Lea Verou on Smashing Magazine in November.

"No matter how many frameworks, polyfills and other scripts we use to ease our pain, we will always be doing at least 30 per cent more work for those browsers. How many of us actually charge 30-100 per cent extra for this work?"

Kogan chief executive Ruslan Kogan told BBC News that while his stats show only 3 per cent of his customers using Internet Explorer 7, his web development team had become preoccupied with making pages display properly on the browser, which is notoriously behind when it comes to complying with web standards.

"It's not only costing us a huge amount, it's affecting any business with an online presence and costing the Internet economy millions," writes Kogan.

According to W3counter's Global web statistics, Internet Explorer 7 made up only 5.11 per cent of the market share last month. Firefox 12, Chrome 19 and IE 9 were the top three most popular choices.
OK, no, not really. But they do make a valid point. What do you guys think?
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Роберт
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Роберт » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:17 pm UTC

Who would go through with it and find out they didn't get taxed?
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webzter_again
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby webzter_again » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:21 pm UTC

So, an electronics shop probably gets less than the average # of IE 7 users. They looked at their logs and realized that IE 7 probably makes up < 2% of their sales. They spend a couple hours adding a feature to their site to add in a fake usage tax and immediately reap a large amount of Internet buzz for their 'bold' move.

Smart business I'd say. They've increased cred with geeks and, really, who have they turned off by the move?

Tirian
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Tirian » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:49 pm UTC

O.o

So a bunch of geeks got into a snit because a minority of their traffic takes a lot of work. Their solution is to do more work to implement a joke tax that doesn't actually get charged but would seem to anyone who started to make a purchase with them. Wow, way to ensure that you get NO revenue from IE7 users in exchange for your more work, Bruce. Why not just reroute all IE7 requests to /dev/null and have an early day of it if you don't mind losing the business?

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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby ConMan » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:05 am UTC

From what I know of coding and web page layout, if their checkout system is even vaguely well designed it would take maybe a few minutes, maybe up to an hour to add the IE7 tax, compared to the days or weeks of making the site work in IE7.

Now, since IE7 is no longer supported by Microsoft and hasn't been for over 1 1/2 years, I assume that means that most of the people still using it either (a) have no choice (e.g. their work has not upgraded it), or (b) aren't tech-savvy enough to have either upgraded to IE8/9 or switched to Chrome/Firefox/lynx/whatever. As such, a lot of the people in group (b) will be turned off by the fake tax, but I'm less certain about (a) - if you're using IE7 because your legacy system uses it, then you may well already be aware of the design flaws, and you might even be curious enough to look further to find out the story behind this "tax", and it won't necessarily lose your business.

On the other hand, as webzter points out, it draws attention both to their own business, and to the ongoing problem of needing to support legacy browsers while still providing people using up-to-date browsers with the smooth modern browsing experience they expect. And that kind of attention is most decidedly a good thing, and may even drive up their business. I certainly don't agree with the suggestion that it's some kind of butt-hurt knee-jerk reaction - if you have to expend up to 50% of your effort on making something work for 5% of your customers, that's not efficient. If almost everyone in your industry is doing the same, then unless it's mandated by some kind of law then that's getting towards being plain stupid - especially if, as pointed out in the article, the extra work isn't being specifically charged.
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elasto
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby elasto » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:13 am UTC

Tirian wrote:Wow, way to ensure that you get NO revenue from IE7 users in exchange for your more work, Bruce. Why not just reroute all IE7 requests to /dev/null and have an early day of it if you don't mind losing the business?
If they lose all their IE7 customers but, through all the free advertising buzz, gain 10% new customers, they make more money and they can stop doing any IE7 coding. It's win-win for them!

(Course, they likely won't lose all their IE7 customers so they'll probably still keep doing IE7 coding, but I bet they make a lot of money from this move!)

Arariel
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Arariel » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:35 am UTC

Publicity stunt, obviously. If they did that tax for real and applied it to all IE users, that would be something to talk about (someone should absolutely do that).

webzter_again
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby webzter_again » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:55 am UTC

We flash a "you really should upgrade" message to anyone that hits our site using IE 6 (and I think 7). The site still works well and we don't do anything crazy... but your experience isn't optimal. We also take pains to support screen readers and provide adequate ARIA markup (because we open ourselves and our clients up to lawsuit otherwise).

Now, that's for our very public-facing site. For the new app we're building that only our customers will be using (as opposed to our customers' customers)... you get Webkit and that's it. I'm not even going to bake in estimate time to test on IE anything or even FF (although I'm reasonably sure FF and Opera will work fine).

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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Arariel » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:12 am UTC

webzter_again wrote:We flash a "you really should upgrade" message to anyone that hits our site using IE 6 (and I think 7). The site still works well and we don't do anything crazy... but your experience isn't optimal. We also take pains to support screen readers and provide adequate ARIA markup (because we open ourselves and our clients up to lawsuit otherwise).

Now, that's for our very public-facing site. For the new app we're building that only our customers will be using (as opposed to our customers' customers)... you get Webkit and that's it. I'm not even going to bake in estimate time to test on IE anything or even FF (although I'm reasonably sure FF and Opera will work fine).

Interesting... should I get that message in Wine IE?

webzter_again
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby webzter_again » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:29 am UTC

Arariel wrote:Interesting... should I get that message in Wine IE?


Users running an inferior browser on a superior OS get a special easter egg.

Arariel
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Arariel » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:48 am UTC

webzter_again wrote:
Arariel wrote:Interesting... should I get that message in Wine IE?


Users running an inferior browser on a superior OS get a special easter egg.

Never mind. I thought Wine IE identified as IE 6, but it's IE 8. And it identifies the computer as Windows XP.

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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Max™ » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:39 pm UTC

webzter_again wrote:
Arariel wrote:Interesting... should I get that message in Wine IE?


Users running an inferior browser on a superior OS get a special easter egg.

I approve of superior OS easter eggs... but that raises an interesting point for me. The only reason I use IE is because the proctored testing software my school uses insists on windows, but I'll be damned if I go back so I just Vbox it when I need to take a test.

It works great, but raises the question of whether not they're aware you can bypass their ability to monitor by using a virtual XP desktop, unless the proctor asks me to point the webcam at the monitor I suppose >.>, course I could put the virtual machine maximized on another workspace. :wink:
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby meatyochre » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:25 pm UTC

I think this is clever and hilarious.

That said, there's nothing forcing any company to support old browsers. They can make the choice to maintain backwards-compatibility or not. If that segment of their customer base is so small, then they should just cut that business loose. Either people will upgrade their browser when they find out they can't access that website anymore, or they will move on someplace else. No big deal.

My own company's IT department is fucking awful, and I've been using the same version of IE (6.0, whoopee) since I started here 4 years ago. The problem is that a lot of our programs are built on web-interfaces, and IT can't be arsed to update them for a safer, more modern browser. As time goes by, I'm noticing a lot more companies who don't care whether I can display their website or not. Target.com is one. Youtube is going to stop supporting IE6/7 pretty soon, too. Unfortunately I can't install an alternative browser because they're got the system locked down pretty hard. I can't even run Firefox on a thumb drive because they block external media access in the name of "asset protection." /whine
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Re: Internet Explorer 'tax' fuels browser debate

Postby Max™ » Wed Jun 27, 2012 10:49 pm UTC

1. http://unetbootin.sourceforge.net/

2. http://distro.ibiblio.org/quirky/racy-5.3/racy-5.3.iso

3. Unetbootin -> racy -> USB drive

4. Insert drive, reboot computer, hit esc/f9/whatever to get to boot options

5. ???

6. Profit!
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