Stack OverflowHow to (kindly) ask your users to upgrade from IE6?
[+55] [36] nickf
[2008-12-18 07:44:03]
[ internet-explorer-6 upgrading ]

It's no secret at all that IE6 has been a major roadblock to the advancement of the web over the last few years. I couldn't count the number of hours I've spent bashing my head against a wall trying to fix or debug IE6 issues.

The way I see it, there are two types of IE6 user. a) the poor corporate schmoe whose IT department doesn't want to upgrade in case something breaks, and b) the mums and dads of the world who think the internet is the blue E on their desktop (and I don't mean that in a nasty way).

There's probably a couple of people who know about all the other browsers, but still choose to run IE6. They get what they deserve, IMO.

Anyway, getting to the point, I'd say that 90% of my IE6-using visitors are in the the mums and dads category - they're not stupid, they just don't know WHY they should upgrade to IE7 or Firefox or whatever. How do I educate these people without pissing them off?

Is there a nice and friendly website I can direct these people to, which explains the reasons for upgrading in plain language? Any mention of "security" or "web standards" I think would just come across as scary.

I've just seen which seems to fit the bill nicely. It explains in very basic terms:

..aaaand it's in 22 languages. It's from Google but displays no bias (it links to Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer displayed in a random order).

Edit: Would you believe it... it doesn't work in IE6. (on Win XP SP2)

If only Microsoft would force IE6 users up to IE7, if not IE8 - Charlie Somerville
There is also another type of IE user: A person that--whether he or she wants to or not--has to use a website that refuses to render in other browsers (either because of user agent filtering or poor coding). If this type of user switched to another browser, he or she would end up using IE6 half the time anyway, making it simply less of a headache to just use IE6. - Rishabh Mishra
@Rishabh: I always hear about these sites, but have never ever seen one myself... do you know of any? - nickf
(6) I would disagree with your statement "90% of my IE6-using visitors are in the the mums and dads category" - most home users will have updates applied automatically. I would say that 90% of IE6 users are corporate. Obviously, we're both guessing here though... - stusmith
see also… - Ian Ringrose
[+58] [2008-12-18 08:03:24] Tomalak [ACCEPTED]

It may sound disappointing, but I don't think you can.

Most people of the category you talk about are more than happy if their computer is not "broken", so any change to it that they have to do by themselves scares them. Even an additional or changed icon on the desktop scares them, let alone a new UI (tabbed browsing etc.).

The mere fact that there are other "browsers" available usually comes as a surprise for most of them. This puts you in a kind of a losing position. ;-)

So you're in the hands of the hopefully tech-head son to do it for them on your behalf. If they don't have one, you are out of luck. They sure as hell wont go to "Windows Update" and check the "Recommended Updates" section.

(3) Its sad, but it is so true... - Gamecat
I never said it would work. ;) - Jonathan Lonowski
Absolutely true. - Registered User
not "loosing", "losing" :-) - Duncan Smart
Damn. I always get this one wrong. :-) - Tomalak
(1) I really wish that IE7 wouldn't have changed the UI so drastically, I think the adoption rate would be much higher. - Kibbee
(2) The problem will go away, eventually (give it another five years :-D). A replacement computer will have Vista pre-installed. But who knows, maybe by then IE7 will be making you as sad as IE6 does now. Ironic. ;-) - Tomalak
Well ok, Vista is likely to get them used to wanting to have other software installed ... - Stephan Eggermont
You accepted to loose, because you did not learn how to cope with people. Well then, go on, but thats a very, very, very very bad advice. You could heve even written "I do not know better", this would've been honest at least, but you sell your advice as the only truth. THIS IS SAD. Why don't we all drive 1890 cars? Because we can not convince them that 2010 cars are safer for them? - frunsi
(2) @frunsi: No, because 1890s cars don't exist, and they'd be rust-buckets by now if they did. People drive their cars into the ground, unfortunately ie6 is a little bit harder to kill, like a cockroach. - Mark
(2) @frunsi: This is no advice, and I'm not selling it as the truth. It is how I view the topic, nothing more, nothing less. You are invited to give your own, better answer. ;) - Tomalak
@Tomalak: I wish I shared your optimism, but there are a significant number of organizations out there that require IE6 (and ActiveX) for their intranet sites. Even in 2010. The root cause is a perception that if it worked once, it ought to keep on working until the end of time (and a total lack of money for upgrading the web application server). Die! Die, IE6, die! - Donal Fellows
(2) @Tomalak: no, the problem will not go away. 10 years from now we will urge people to get rid of their ancient IE9, because it doesn't support current web standards. And we will ask them to upgrade to IE 11 or to an alternative browser such as Walt Disneys' MyWebBrowser 2. - Joachim Sauer
[+36] [2008-12-18 08:08:06] Ace

"Call your son and tell him to update your internets"

(3) Very true. :) That didn't work ten years ago, but definitely now. - Ace
[+15] [2008-12-18 09:48:26] Renaud Bompuis

You can use a large red banner at the top of each page that urge the user to upgrade and allow them to close it or ignore it.
Below it your site should work as normal (or in degraded mode but still be functional).

The point is that you can't force people to upgrade: they may have no control over their machine, for various good reasons.

Chances are that if they go to your site, they expect it to work. Be kind and nice to them and do your duty to inform them but don't ruin their experience or they may never come back.

I know it would greatly annoy me if I was stuck using a public coffee-shop PC and I was chided for using IE6.

(1) I like this unobtrusive approach. incorrectly detects Camino and suggests that I 'upgrade' to Netscape 8. Displays an annoying pop-up on every page.… - g .
[+9] [2008-12-18 10:24:30] Eric

One very explicit metaphore I have used is [1]. Its a bunch of scripts that makes your website black and white (using IE's incredibly useful filter: css thingie) when viewed in IE6. It also takes care of helping users upgrade.


HA, like it. Can't use it for work, but will use it for leasure time projects :) - borisCallens
[+6] [2008-12-18 13:19:59] antik

"This site works best with Internet Explorer 7 or Mozilla Firefox 3" in clear view someplace. Or perhaps "This site may not function correctly in browsers other than IE7/Firefox3."

Beyond that, you can't, and in my mind shouldn't, do anything more to require your users move to a different browser. The idea that they need to switch their browsing experience to accommodate what you're paid to do is rather arrogant IMO (if you're not getting paid for this then it's a different story, in which case I'd simply exclude those users who don't run up to date browsers.)

The nature of the web developer's work, unfortunate as it is, includes managing the multiple browsers that travel the internet. Yes, it's a big pain; but that's the challenge. As a user who frequents web tools written in a fashion that only IE works more often than not, I sympathize with your users: if I can avoid using a tool that depends on some specific browser to accomplish something, I will do so. As a developer, it's your responsibility (and should be a personal goal) to avoid the situation where you lose users for reasons that you can, with effort, work around.

(3) I disagree with this recommendation. When I see "This site works best with..." I assume that the developer is either stuck in 1995 or is too inexperienced to program using anything but new features that can only be found in current browser versions. - JeffH
[+6] [2008-12-18 09:05:02] Leeor Aharon

There's another major roadblock to moving to IE6 if your users work in large enterprises. Most of these enterprises' IT divisions have their own update centers and they decide when to push new updates in. Moreover, they sometimes even forbid updating some applications. That's if their users even have permissions to install anything on their PCs.

Anyway, in this case, there's nothing much you can do but wait it out. IE8 will be with us before IE6 is anywhere near gone.

And people will not upgrade to IE8, either. - bart
Indeed these users are gonners. But as the OP mentions, we CAN try to get to the MUM/DAD group. Also, don't get your hopes up for IE8. Read up on it and weap. - borisCallens
(3) +1: Many badly designed "enterprise" webapps (intranet) require IE6 and don't work correctly in anything else -- so even if the IT admins were willing to upgrade, they can't. - Milan Gardian
[+4] [2008-12-18 10:23:30] alexis.kennedy

"Would you kindly upgrade from IE6?" [1]


Very good indeed! - e100
[+3] [2008-12-18 09:46:22] Sam Meldrum

Microsoft's own advice [1] about upgrading to IE7 is unlikely to do the trick. It's hardly encouraging:

Will Internet Explorer 7 work with the websites I visit?

The vast majority of websites work with Internet Explorer 7. In some cases, however, websites may not display properly when viewed with Internet Explorer 7.

Internet Explorer 6 has been around for a long time, and website developers took special steps to make their sites display properly in that version of the web browser. Sometimes, those steps involved "hacks" that don't work with Internet Explorer 7, resulting in pages that appear broken when viewed with the new browser. That being said, Internet Explorer 7 was in beta for more than a year, and has been available to the public since October 2006. Many sites that were broken in Internet Explorer 7 back in October 2006 now work just fine.

Even if a site that is important to you does not work in Internet Explorer 7, that's no reason to continue using Internet Explorer 6—the security improvements introduced in the new version are too important. If there is a problem, you can use a Microsoft program called the User Agent String Utility to fool sites into recognizing your browser as Internet Explorer 6. You can get the utility from the Download Center on the Microsoft website. I also suggest you contact the owners of the broken website to let them know of the problem.

Pull the other one! It's got bells on.


[+3] [2008-12-18 07:57:20] deadbug

They may think there's a cost involved in upgrading. So, try and emphasize the fact that it's free and that it will also automatically migrate their bookmarks and etc. for them -- for free. :)

[+3] [2009-01-06 22:02:15] Stephan Eggermont

There is of course the not-recommended way: use a security bug in IE6 to install IE7 :)

Firefox is the one that had the most security vulnerabilities in the past year, you must have it mixed up with IE ;-))) (…) - Milan Gardian
@Milan - possibly... but I think the total count of IE6 security bugs is larger. - scunliffe
[+2] [2008-12-18 15:39:35] celebrus

It's best to simply stop working specifically to get your page to display correctly on IE6.

Get rid of all the fancy features. Just plain, black text an a plain white background, and a message on top asking them to upgrade their browser to view the full version of this page.

[+2] [2008-12-18 09:54:17] sliderhouserules

I would display something unobtrusive yet very noticeable letting them know they're using an unsupported browser. Provide a link to one of your pages that has more info. Be concise, to the point, and provide a simple explanation.

And the key here is to provide a direct link to where they can upgrade.

[+1] [2008-12-18 09:37:09] borisCallens

How about using CSS, PNG and JS speed as incentives?

Wouldn't it be great if we could construct a real simple, static site that says in a large font, with as few words and links as possible, what to do.

In some linked pages we could show them what they are missing out of.

  • A visually pleasing CSS demo with a screenshot of how it should work and under that the real IE-ed page. A great demo would be Meyer's distorted [1] page.
  • A page (again visually pleasing) with an image of what a real browser makes of an SVG image of animation with again under that what IE makes of it.
  • And a page that demonstrates how slow JS is in IE. Don't know how we can make that non-technical though.

But most of all, a cover with "Don't Panic" in big friendly letters


(2) My parents won't bother looking at a demo of "technical stuff" they don't understand & don't care about. If a site they visit for information/to shop doesn't "work" (by THEIR definition of work) they go elsewhere, taking their money with them. And there are more people like my parents than like us. - Grant Wagner
I think I phrased my post incorrectly. Let me refrase - borisCallens
[+1] [2008-12-18 09:47:16] jalf

Depends a lot on the site, of course, and this may not be an option at all, but how about simply not bothering to fix all the IE6 errors?

Make sure the site is functional under IE6, but don't bother fixing visual errors, and perhaps simplify the design of the page when IE6 is detected, and then stick a friendly little message on it (only if IE6 useragent is detected, of course), saying that they're using a 10 year old browser which is why the page looks a bit odd, and give them instructions on upgrading/switching browser. (And make it simple, imo. Saying "go here, here, here, here or here to get IE7, Chrome, Opera, Safari or Firefox" is just going to scare people away from upgrading. You'll probably want to suggest one browser.)

The point isn't to punish the user for using IE6, but rather to avoid putting extra work into IE6 compatibility. I believe the best motivation for upgrading your browser is "the site I want to visit looks wrong". Security, performance, tabs or no tabs and all the other advantages don't really matter as much as "does my browser actually allow me to view the sites I want?"

This isn't very practical, as all it will do is give the impression to anyone using IE6 that your site sucks ass. - sliderhouserules
Perhaps. Or perhaps it'll actually make them consider that their browser sucks ass. (Of course you have to point this out to them for it to have even a chance of working). But I think the only argument that's going to convince people to upgrade their browser is "It doesn't show sites correctly". - jalf
This won't work. People will think that your website is to blame. - Mauricio Scheffer
[+1] [2008-12-18 12:08:51] Slace

Explain the security risks of not upgrading from IE 6 to something newer. You'll find that if you start spouting that their internet security is at risk they will often get scared and follow the nice person who knows computers.

If that fails I find a shotgun would do the trick.

(1) I tried shotgunning my familly untill they ditched the blue monster for Opera. Now I'm an Orphan - borisCallens
[+1] [2008-12-18 13:05:50] Brian Knoblauch

Tell them upgrading IE is like going from an old Ford Pinto to a new car, for free...

[+1] [2009-02-21 11:27:44] Ola Eldøy

Check out the The fair Upgrade from IE6 Banner [1] from fellow Stack Overflow user and " competitor [2]", Thomas Hansen [3].


[0] [2009-02-21 11:37:39] Macha

My personal approach is just to use dean edwards script on the page. If it still doesn't work, then the "upgrade your browser" text and links come up.

I include links to FF2 aswell because users of 98, ME, 2000 (yes, they still exist) can upgrade to IE6, but no further and can't run FF3.

Win 2000 can run FF3 - Craig McQueen
[0] [2009-06-22 03:21:19] Jason Cohen

Tell them you service requires a client-side install, then point them to Chrome.

[0] [2009-10-21 12:41:20] Gabriel Guimarães

Try this site:

it has a buttom banner, and and script for a top bar like stackoverflow when you are not logged in, but only shows up when the user uses old browsers, if gives you the script to show the warning, and explain that old browsers are filled with bugs and for their security they should update.

[0] [2009-11-04 13:26:35] warren

Whatever you do, don't automatically redirect to ""!!

I get that often enough because I'm stuck on IE6 at $WORK - and it's incredibly annoying. Yes, there are better browsers out there. But forcing me to another website to tell me I'm stupid makes me think you are, and I won't be back.

[0] [2010-01-04 02:15:34] frunsi

You can.

Usually, I just place a kind, calm and informative notice that tells something like "your browser is too old, please upgrade to a new version".

It is extremely important that you do not show anything of your site to them. So this should not be a notice, it should be the content of the page that they see.

It is also important that you do not start to write about technical details and that you do not start to talk about political issues (use firefox or whatever, ...).

Just tell them, that their browsing device is out of date, and leave them alone at this point!!!

In this way, you do not even suggest that they are or could be stupid. In this way, you open the people a path to explore, to find out what happened.

Do not tell people that they suck. Not in any way (technical affine people do that way too much).

Blocking all the content is hardly "kind", IMO. Surely it's better to give the user a toned-down (read: partially broken) experience with some content available, rather than a big "go away" sign? At least then when they upgrade they'll see "ah, this works much better!" - nickf
[0] [2010-04-27 20:38:33] Gabriel Guimarães

You should say that the person is using a old browser with many vulnerabilities and saying that it's very easy to exploit them like:

this [1] and this [2]


Causing a crash isn't the same as a security vulnerability. - nickf
But will scare them. - Gabriel Guimarães
[0] [2010-06-08 13:12:49] lbedogni

Hey, Microsoft released the new version of IE6. It is named Firefox. Can I upgrade your version? Works for Office too :)

[0] [2010-06-08 13:21:22] TT

Use Html5 and css3 features that have ok fallbacks for older browser but does not work as well and give a nice notice that the site works better with a more modern browser. I think we will see a major shift in browser upgrades when some killer html5 sites starts appearing

[0] [2008-12-18 23:11:29] Brandon DuRette

Forward them a link to the news about the latest IE vulnerabilities [1], choosing the site that has the most credibility with them. Include a link to Firefox [2].


People don't want to read, let alone read about this kind of stuff. - Mauricio Scheffer
[0] [2009-01-18 15:06:53] DisgruntledGoat

I didn't see anyone post this URL, which is the direct link to upgrade IE:

There are different avenues you can head down:

  • The security route: "Your browser is insecure".
  • The buggy route: "Your browser is buggy/faulty/broken".
  • The age route: "You browser is more than 5 years out of date!"
  • The speed route.
  • A combination: "Your browser is out of date. Click here [1] to upgrade to a faster, more secure version of Internet Explorer

Personally, I like to style messages like IE's warning bar, to make it look more official. It is slightly deceiving, but desperate times... ;)


[0] [2008-12-18 09:48:54] Andrew G. Johnson

Call your parents, tell them to upgrade.

Call your friends, ask them to do the same to their parents.

[0] [2008-12-18 10:16:15] Stephen Belanger

Designing for IE6 really sin't all the headache inducing if you just take the time to learn what standards it's not following. I've created many sites over the last 7 years ranging from flash-based to pure AJAX manipulated and have yet to encounter anything that caused problems. The only thing I can really complain about is the non-standard object element instead of embed, but I've always just used SWFObject, so I just ignored that.

Did you do lay-out with css? - borisCallens
you can't be serious?! that's all you can complain about? "I'll take document.getElementById(id) is utterly broken for $500 Alex." - scunliffe
[0] [2008-12-18 07:50:52] Jonathan Lonowski

Arguably, still abrasive: Windows Update [1].
IE7 has been in the "Recommended" update list for quite a few months now.

Or, the IE homepage [2] which has pages explaining the benefits of upgrading pretty well.

But, really, IE6 works. Security is about the only real benefit for Joe Schmoe to actually update -- and that assumes he/she understands or cares what that means.


Security is most certainly not the only reason to update. The experience over all is better, it has tabbed browsing which even a novice can use and the page rendering is significantly better, bringing them a better web experience. - Simucal
(1) Is Joe Schmoe really going to care about tabbed browsing? Probably not. They may use it, but most will still admit they can live without it. Same for everything else you listed. "It works." That's what really matters. - Jonathan Lonowski
No, IE6 doesn't work. Developers spending twice as much time as normal to make a site that avoids all the areas where IE6 fails are what creates the illusion that it "works". So I'd say tear away that illusion. Don't bother doing extra work to fix IE6 if you don't want the user to use IE6. - jalf
IE6 work(ed). The problem is that sites today are starting to not care in the slightest if it renders or fails in IE6. Old sites need to support IE6, new sites should SERIOUSLY consider dropping support for it. - scunliffe
I just posted this in another answer: . It's probably the best (easiest) link you can give to users. - DisgruntledGoat
[0] [2008-12-18 09:20:02] Stephan Eggermont

Well, I'd guess 90% of your IE6 users probably like the compatibility with the browser at work, which also is IE6. Fix the business first.

There is of course the well-tested method of looking at the browser version and displaying:

Sorry, your browser is not supported. Please upgrade to a recent version of Firefox, Safari or Chrome.

Since we can't fix the business first, we'll have to force the stream to go the other way round. If enough users use a descent browser and will bitch and whine all day about their browser at work sucks, maybe business will follow. - borisCallens
Fixing the business is a lot easier. If you cannot fix that, you're out of luck - Stephan Eggermont
How exactly are you planning on fixing the business? - borisCallens
Top-down. Find out what the CEO cares about and create a good, short story. - Stephan Eggermont
[0] [2008-12-18 08:47:42] Joseph

I have found that with myself and others, the only way you can make someone use a particular web browser is to make it a requirement of the site they are trying to visit. If they want it enough, they'll upgrade to be able to visit it.

Another way to say it is, people will do the easiest thing allowed to them and will only change if they are given no way around it.

This is true and sadly not possible in real world situations. - borisCallens
This is exactly the same argument that was used against support for minority browsers like Mozilla: "If they want it, they'll open it in IE6" (at a time when IE6 was the majority browser). - Piskvor
I disagree with 'requiring' them to upgrade. Displaying a warning that the browser isn't 'supported' is fine. Blocking access to the site is a bit arrogant. - g .
People will never come back to your site instead of upgrading :-). - Milan Gardian
[0] [2008-12-18 08:58:15] shoosh

Take notice that some people just can't upgrade or for that matter can't get any windows updates because their illegal windows fails to validate and they are too lazy to do something about it or even aren't aware it's a problem.

@boris: Extreme non-technicality has already been assumed in this thread, so neither option seems viable. - Piskvor
[-1] [2009-06-22 03:16:46] MSpreij

There's the javascript from which displays an official-looking update bar, that points to the Microsoft current IE version/download page. Check the demo.

It's ever so slightly misleading but will help most people ;-) Without pissing them off, too.

[-2] [2009-10-21 12:57:57] Drevak

Redirect them to

[-2] [2008-12-18 10:37:39] Imran
  1. Introduce them to Adblock.

  2. A re-branded version of Firefox / Chromium which has "Internet" in it's name