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Microsoft's rivals: why can't XP support IE9?

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By Stuart Turton

Posted on 6 May 2010 at 10:47

Microsoft has come under fire from rivals for not offering Internet Explorer 9 to Windows XP users.

IE9 is the first Microsoft browser to offer support for HTML5, the next generation of the web's markup language. But Windows XP users won't be offered IE9, with Microsoft claiming the new browser needs "a modern operating system".

"IE9 will not be supported by Windows XP," said Microsoft's web technical evangelist Giorgio Sardo, speaking at the Web 2.0 Expo. "We are building all of HTML5 with hardware acceleration. We need a modern OS to do this."

IE9 will not be supported by Windows XP. We are building all of HTML5 with hardware acceleration. We need a modern OS to do this

The comments didn't sit well with Microsoft's browser rivals, who pointed out that by not supporting Windows XP, Microsoft was barring a large portion of people from enjoying the benefits of HTML5, including offline storage and plugin-free media playback.

"Opera and Mozilla and on Chrome we're all doing hardware acceleration, and all of us are doing it on XP," argued Google Chrome developer Alex Russell.

"What you’re describing is a situation where people are getting left behind. The way is to not leave users behind. The question is, do we have a plan so that we can give developers a choice to use HTML5 across the board?"

His concerns were echoed by Doug Crockford, a senior JavaScript architect at Yahoo, who offered a straight forward solution to the problem. "I recommend all users of XP migrate to another browser that's not IE," he said.

This brought the debate around to the problem of IE6, which still enjoys widespread support among enterprises, despite its age and insecurity.

"My proposal for solving the IE6 problem?" said Crockford. "One day, the major website developers redirect to a page that says 'please load one of these five or six free browsers, and then come back.'"

"We all have to do it on the same day. Otherwise, we'll be afraid we'll be sending IE6 users to a competitor, and we'll never get them back. I propose that day is 30 days after all the major browser vendors have implemented HTML 5. On that day, IE 6 dies," he added.

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User comments

Hold on a Minute

Forcing people to upgrade from XP to use the latest browser just means lots of people won't upgrade browsers. Forcing people to move away from IE6 is a silly proposition - there may be good reasons why people have IE6 such as the use of software that is not compatible with IE7 or IE8 (and which requires IE and not any other browser). Not everyone can instantly upgrade to new versions of things - there is such a thing as application testing and support issues.

By alanmort on 6 May 2010

Kill IE6

Gosh if there's one thing you SHOULD upgrade from it's IE6, that browser cannot even do basic web design standards properly. It is not secure, renders slowly, screws up standards compliant code and is just plain useless. Kill it now.

By Mark535 on 6 May 2010

The other thing...

Is that XP will be out of active support by the time that IE 9 hits the market.

As IE 9 isn't a security patch for XP SP3, but a new version, bringing new features, it is not in their roadmap.

This has been on the cards for about 5 years now. It isn't as if users haven't had fair warning...

By big_D on 6 May 2010

Windows 7 greed

Just when the world was getting a standards compliant version of IE9 which is the real deal, Microsoft make us pay the Windows 7 or Vista tax. XP is well supported till April 2014 so all releases of IE within the April 2014 timeframe should support XP. Microsoft has done this in the past for by offering IE6 for Windows 2000, 98, Me and even NT 4.0. It's because with XP people are so hooked onto the mature OS that they are deliberately using APIs that aren't available on XP. Hardware acceleration is nice to have but not critical for browsing the web. Opera 10.53 on XP without hardware acceleration does much better than IE9 on Windows 7 and feels less laggy in Microsoft's own IE9 tests. Upgrading the OS is the tax XP users must pay for IE9. Which is WRONG. Get rid of the OS barrier Microsoft then we will talk browser versions.

By tuxplorer on 6 May 2010

Excellent

XP users aren't being left behind. There are lots of great alternatives like Firefox and Chrome. I am sure that many Windows 7 users will upgrade from IE9 to a rival anyway. A lower market share by IE9 will be better for standard complicity and the web in general.

By john_coller on 6 May 2010

Extended support...

Which means security fixes, not new features / versions or non-security bug fixes.

By big_D on 6 May 2010

Just Asking...

Does the latest version of Safari run on Mac OS X 10.1 ? (or whatever the version was when XP was released)

By rjp2000 on 6 May 2010

That's terrible news. I shall have to not use IE8 rather than not use IE9.

More seriously, there are still many users of IE6 because IE7 will not run on Win2000. This is clearly a policy rather technical decision by M$.

By j_p_l on 6 May 2010

@john_coller

"...will be better for standard complicity.."

Definition of complicity is "partnership in evil action". I think you're spot on!! ;-))

By rjp2000 on 6 May 2010

@j_p_l

Windows 2000, oh please! Nobody is forced to run Windows or IE for that matter. This is just whinging for whinging's sake!

By rjp2000 on 6 May 2010

I'm sorry, I don't see what it's got to do with Opera, Mozilla or Google if MS don't make IE9 available for XP. As their browsers will offer all the features they have decided the XP users will need, why don't they spend their own money and advertise their products to these potential customers?

By chapelgarth on 6 May 2010

I'm with chapelgarth on this.

MS rivals should just shut up and market their browsers to XP users.

By bigrob14 on 6 May 2010

Why are they complaining?

If IE9 does not support XP then people are more likely to use a competing browser like Opera or Firefox.

But MS need to do this because people need to be encouraged to move on from XP anyway. They already released IE7 and 8, they can't keep devoting resources to older OSes.

By windywoo on 6 May 2010

I'm with chapelgarth on this.

MS rivals should just shut up and market their browsers to XP users.

By bigrob14 on 6 May 2010

@rjp2000:

I think the issue is more the number of people who are using legacy software rather than the age of the legacy software.

If there's no significant customer base using OS X 10.1.1 that's ok - you don't need to update Safari. If, however, there's tens of millions of people using Windows XP then maybe you really should update Internet Explorer for it.

Personally I don't like the idea that you might need to buy a whole new computer (if your XP computer can't run Vista/7 for example) to run a free software download. If I was OK with my current computer I would just forego the free download.

By steviesteveo on 6 May 2010

Competition law breach?

Another issue is that MS should watch themselves here - if they're using their dominant position in one thing (browsers) to make people buy their other product (operating systems) that's pretty clearly against EU law.

By steviesteveo on 6 May 2010

So XP users can't have IE9? So what?

They can't play HALO 2 either!

They can't run DX10 or DX11 games and that's their choice.

You don't upgrade. You don't get the costs, but you don't get the benefits either.
If legacy support is the issue, run Windows 7 with your apps in Virtual XP.

Maybe MS will release IE9 and DX10 for XP when Apple allows Flash on the iPod & iPhone - shortly after hell has frozen over..

If you want a modern browser on XP, use Firefox or Chrome or one of the others.

By cheysuli on 6 May 2010

Clearly Doug Crockford, "senior JavaScript architect at Yahoo" has never worked on any site where users desktops are locked down, otherwise he wouldn't suggest that anyone be redirected to a page that says 'please load one of these five or six free browsers, and then come back.'

Do any of these guys actually understand what commercial organisations do?

By AdrianB on 6 May 2010

Why use IE at all??

It's beyond me why anyone, with the very limited exceptions of legacy software that needs IE, would use IE at all. It is inferior to FF, Chrome, Opera and Safari - the only people I know who use it do so through ignorance or a technophobic fear of trying anything different.

By chrisfixit on 8 May 2010

@chrisfixit

"who use it do so through ignorance or a technophobic fear of trying anything different."

Or maybe it just works for what they want? That does not make them ignorant or technophobic.

By chapelgarth on 8 May 2010

What's the problem with this?

By the time IE9 is released, XP will be over a decade old so it's hardly surprising that MS are abandoning it. I can't see why people rate it so highly. It's now looking very dated and clunky, and I'll be glad to get rid of it from the computers at work (about half way there now). Windows 7 is so much better, and even Vista is preferable on reasonable hardware.

By davidbryant4 on 11 May 2010

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