There’s a part of me that wants to scream at people stubbornly refusing to upgrade their web browser. I want to create a bit of code that detects an antiquated copy of Internet Explorer 8, then tells the user they’re being denied access to the internet until they sort themselves out. It may seem harsh, but there are some very good reasons why this would make a lot of sense.
Trying to maintain cross-browser compatibility is expensive. To try and maintain a “great experience” for everyone, businesses invest in creating code that works across browsers. I say invest because it’s just spending money to stand still.
The additional costs aren’t only in writing and testing code. They also pop up in the chasing around that goes on in customer services before someone realises the person with the complaint is using a Windows machine they haven’t upgraded in the past 6 years.
Users suffer, though they may not realise it. Digital services are compromised to cater for older machines, perhaps with features being denied or simply not working because they’re broken. It creates frustration and stress, leading to phone calls, complaints and other wastes of time and effort.
Digital security is compromised by out of date software. It allows bugs and viruses and malware to slip through. If you want to see how that pans out, you have only to look at how the NHS was crippled because it was running software so out of date Microsoft hadn’t supported it for years.
People rightly get upset when their washing machine breaks after a year and the manufacturer no longer offers parts or support. It’s a big investment to have to throw away and this attitude seems to have pervaded into our attitudes towards software.
Only browsers aren’t washing machines. They don’t cost hundreds of pounds to replace and the inconvenience is at worst limited to a bit of download time and a rebooted computer.
Better experiences, reduced costs and more secure computers: what isn’t there to like about keeping a browser up to date?
I'm a freelance designer and writer. My clients have included Fintech startups, publishers and digital agencies. You can read more about my work here.