A Tax On IE7
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 15 June 2012

Some browsers are just too much effort to support - IE6 and IE7 are the two that top the list. You might think that there is nothing we can do about it, but an Australian electronics retailer has decided that it can - by applying an IE7 tax.

The idea is simple. If you visit retailer Kogans website then you will be charged an extra 6.8% on any purchases you make there if you are using IE7. This is supposed to be a 0.1% for each month IE7 was "on the market".

This is presented to the user as a tax on old software which is necessary to fund the extra effort in supporting it. The message that is flashed up to tell the user what is going on is fairly amusing:




It may be amusing but the point is well made. If users want to avoid the tax, all they have to do is download a free, standards-compliant browser. The argument is further explained in the company's blog:

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

The comments that follow the blog are also fascinating with most being behind the idea of getting rid of old browsers. However, there are a few comments to the effect that if the web programmers stuck to simple things and stopped trying to do clever and unnecessary modern tricks then the site would just work on IE7 and perhaps even earlier versions. If you are a programmer wanting to create a web app, you will naturally reject such "back to very basics" ideas.

There is a case to extend the tax to all versions of IE including the soon to be released IE10. The reason is simply that IE has never been, and still isn't, a standards-supporting browser. It has always been, and still is, a tool of Microsoft's marketing policy. 

Repeatedly, if a standard could be implemented in a way that gave a Microsoft technology an advantage, this is what happened even if it resulted in a slightly "modified" version of the standard. At its extreme, Microsoft would refuse to support a standard that was an alternative to its own technologies, even if other browsers were unanimous in their support. The best examples is SVG, which was ignored in favour of Microsoft's own VML graphics - an act that held back web graphics for ten years. Microsoft is currently repeating history with its refusal to support WebGL because it promotes OpenGL rather than DirectX.

Perhaps the only way to avoid another ten year graphics hiatus is a tax on all versions of IE.

More Information

Kogan blog post

Related Articles

Why Do We Tolerate IE? Just Say No


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Last Updated ( Friday, 15 June 2012 )