WordPress 3.2 has been with us for a little while now – WordPress 3.3 is just around the corner (targeting the end of November as of this post), but in the Intranet world it’s been a longer journey than usual. WordPress 3.2 dropped support for Internet Explorer 6, and WordPress 3.3 will most likely drop support for Internet Explorer 7 as well.

Time to Move Up

Internet Explorer 6 CountdownNow, to be clear, Microsoft itself dropped support for Internet Explorer 6 quite some time ago, and has even been running a campaign to get users and web sites to move from IE 6, and Google has dropped IE 6 support on its sites. The challenge, in the world of the intra-webs, has been that many IT departments are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they need to move up from Internet Explorer 6 (it’s over a decade old after all! Which is about 70 in Internet Years), but on the other there are many legacy web applications deployed in the Intranet 1.0 era that only work with IE 6. By the way, Internet Explorer 7 is no spring chicken either, at over 5 years old.

There is a clear lesson here, and for those that have missed it, a couple of solutions. Firstly, the lesson: If you are deploying a web application, make sure it isn’t dependent on proprietary web browser features. If it only works with one web browser, that is going to come back to haunt you down the line, as it effectively places an additional sell-by date on the application. When we build intranets, we test them with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome, even if only Internet Explorer is in use. That way, if it works across multiple browsers, it’s much more likely to last, and to gracefully degrade. Next, some solutions…

The lack of IE 6 support in WordPress 3.2 needn’t be a huge problem. Support has only been dropped in the admin Interface – themes are still free to support IE 6, so it is only the people creating posts and approving comments that immediately need to move off of IE6. This is only buys a little time though, it really is time to drop IE6 from your network, at the very least, it’s a security risk, as it no longer receives security patches.

Living Without Internet Explorer 6

If your infrastructure is still burdened with legacy apps that require IE 6 to work, there are two other work arounds:

  1. Desktop Virtualization – provide access to the legacy apps via virtual desktops or remove desktop access – Microsoft style or VMWare style.
  2. Browsium – an interesting application that allows IE6 to run in a frame in more modern Internet Explorer versions – thank you to Mark at CDG for the pointer.
While IE6 is gradually disappearing from the Worldwide Web, it is still very much in evidence in the Intranet world, but hopefully disappearing fast – the web has changed a lot in the last decade!

Minimum Requirements

WordPress 3.2 also increased its minimum system requirements to PHP 5.2.4 and MySQL 5.0. Somewhat ironically, this hasn’t caused an issues in the Intranet world, but has in the Internet world, where a number of hosting providers are running older versions, so it’s not just internet IT teams failing to keep up with the times!