Online retailer introduces first Internet Explorer tax - Fabric Digital
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Online retailer introduces first Internet Explorer tax Fabric

Online retailer introduces first Internet Explorer tax

15th Jun // 2012 - This post is archived and may no longer be relevant

Yesterday you may have seen an article on BBC News about an Australian retailer introducing a 'tax' on people who complete purchases on their site using Internet Explorer Version 7. The surcharge for these orders was set at 6.8%, 0.1% for every month since the IE7 launch. According to the article, the website owner’s IT team had to invest extra time, and therefore development costs, in making the website compatible with IE7.



Has this website got a point, or is it a clever publicity stunt to get a bit of advertising for his website? We think he is on to something and it’s a sure way to get users to upgrade to more modern browsers. The CEO of www.kogan.com even acknowledges that it was unlikely anyone would actually pay it, and that so far he’s received a lot of praise for his efforts.

In the early days of the Internet, sites often had badges or icons stating that it was ‘Best viewed in Internet Explorer’ as sites were made for a particular browser given the diversity of supported tags and features. Now as more standards-based browsers exist, and the Microsoft has lost its monopoly on Internet Explorer, there are more browsers to make sure your site works in (and for developers to code for). Internet Explorer was always (and in some cases still is) the exception. It always seemed to have some quirk, or way of interpreting the HTML specification that differed from the likes of Safari, Firefox and Chrome. It has got better over the years, and with Internet Explorer 10 due out in the Autumn, the standards based support is much improved – but it is late to the game.

Back in January, even Microsoft celebrated the ‘death’ of Internet Explorer 6, a browser that every developer often despised coding for, and worldwide usage of IE7 is dwindling compared to newer and alternative browsers. Statcounter.com reports IE7 global usage for May 2012 at 1.54% - even the iPad version of Safari is overtaking it. The latest versions of Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer top the charts, so the majority of people seem to upgrade – but you don’t want to deny access (and potential sales) to visitors using older browsers.

Internet Explorer is closely tied to the operating system version within Windows, and newer versions of IE aren’t able to run on older versions of Windows – Firefox and Chrome have better support for this, and their update mechanism almost forces the user to get the latest version if its available. Kogan.com’s approach is hitting users where it hurts – their wallets – and recommends newer browsers to avoid the ‘tax’. For eCommerce websites, it’s an excellent way to encourage users to upgrade and keep development costs down for new features, overall providing a better user experience in the future visits and purchases.

At present at Athernet we still support IE7 and our sites are fully cross browser tested but depending on the statistics we expect to review this decision later this year.

Penned by Arthur Wilson