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General Discussion

Why do people stay with old browsers?

What makes people stick with very old browsers. Why do they not feel the need to upgrade and how do companies like Microsoft get these people to upgrade.

Why is a browser update not in with system updates when you sometimes restart your machine?

Is it just fear of the unknown for less tech savvy people?

6 Answers

There are many possible reasons.

At my day job we are on Windows XP and due to certain websites and services we have to use to do our job we are required to use Internet Explorer 7. Internet Explorer 8 works with Compatibility View but not that many people know how to use that so as a blanket rule our computers are outfitted with IE7.

Some places can not afford to update their hardware so they may be running on machines that can not run newer OS's smoothly - thus eliminating the possibility to run the most current browsers in some circumstances.

Some people like certain browser versions - an example of this would be Opera up to version [Opera 10.5] supported user created themes which newer versions of Opera no longer support. A lot of the graphic design / modding community likes to customize, so I've read about a lot of Opera users staying with 10.5 version.

Senior Citizens and Technologically Challenged people may not know how to update. Force updating (depending on changes included in update) may also change the look, feel, and functionality of the application which could lead to frustration of users.

Companies have realized that many users value having control over the programs they use - allowing users to select the option to auto-update an application allows users more control. Maybe you're running a virtual machine that works best with Application version X.XX.X - thus you would not want it updating automatically.

As far as the OS updating the Application automatically - the only application this would really be wise, or even possible to integrate into OS updates would be the OS packaged Application.

Hope this information helps you out. Just curious, why were you asking?

Hey Seth, thanks a lot for this detailed post. I noticed you put a lot of effort into your posts, thanks for that!

I am doing the web design learning adventure at the moment and I hear a lot of talk about people using older browsers etc I was just curious as to why people stick with old browsers and how companies combat that.

I asked more out of pure curiosity than anything else!

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

Short answer:

If it's enterprise, like a big company, the problem is twofold: Licensing for all those machines, and secondly, all the software they have written is designed to work for that specific browser, so upgrading means starting all the development work again for all their programs.

For personal use: Not everyone cares about upgrading until they actually do it. Because you and I are in this tech/design/development bubble, we tend to forget that not everyone knows or cares about what's new.

This makes our job more difficult, but thank goodness you're working now and not when this all began. Heh. It's a fact we will always have to live with, (See: Chrome => Blink).

I know many common folk who I consider pretty tech savvy who actually still use IE.

Familiarity with a system cannot be underestimated. If something "just works" for someone, or they know how to use it, they are more likely to stick with it. Upgrading to an iPhone a year ago was tough for me, because I could jam on a Blackberry. Meanwhile, my girlfriend jumped straight from a Motorola smart phone to an iPhone. When her phone got stolen, and I let her use my old Blackberry, she hated it, couldn't understand it, and I had to show her how to use it, For her, it was suddenly a huge step down, but for me, it would have been no big deal.

Getting people to give something new a try is the single biggest hurdle. Then, making sure they understand where everything is in their new browser is the next hurdle. They are all similar, but slightly different with where things are located and how they work.

Finally, remember that there is variety in life for a reason. Be understanding of others who use technology differently than yourself at all times. Empathy is the single biggest tool in a designer's kit.

I will second what John said. Right now, I work at a library, and we have a LOT of older folks who come in. When things get changed, they get really confused and it's hard for them to get used to the changes. It's not everybody of course. Then again, I have had patrons come in who point the mouse at the screen like it's a remote control.

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

@Patrick I know some older people who refuse to learn how to work with a computer. A few younger people also have problems with it.

Changing browsers requires learning the whole workflow over again- it's got more to do with UX than anything else.

Everyone has a different comfort level with technology. We have it very easy.

I would love to see the "mouse as a remote control" in action. I don't mean that in a condescending way.

We should remember that things have moved very quickly. The Web was only born 22 years ago. Some people in the forum aren't even that old yet. If all the things that we have to keep up with are overwhelming for us at times, imagine how it all must seem for people who don't do this for a living.

Adam Soucie
Adam Soucie
Courses Plus Student 8,710 Points

The good news is the number of people using the older browsers is going down, because companies are forcing the evolution, plus those companies with the older computers eventually upgrade because their tech just becomes to slow to do the jobs they need.

Microsoft has even seemed to realize this is an issue for their users, and started running adds for the new version of IE. While the ads don't say "YOU MUST UPGRADE", they get the idea in the viewer's head. It's a step in the right direction. As far as I know, none of the other major publishers do that.

Patience on an issue like this is frustrating, especially when old versions of IE are so..."not good". IE in general is just "not good" IMHO, but two years ago I swore by it because it was all I really knew.