Let it go

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Dear Client,

Netscape 4 is now six years old. Could we please stop catering to an old, buggy browser that is incompatible with all other browsers?


Jim Ray
June 9, 2003 12:55 PM

+1: succinct. As an addendum, could IT shops please stop supporting this old, buggy, inconsistent browser and prod their users to upgrade to something a bit more sane?

June 9, 2003 7:27 PM

Dear Vendor, Our relationship is now several years old. Could you please stop secretly thinking you're smarter than we are? After all, we hired you, so how stupid could we be? While our reasons for asking for certain features--like support for old, buggy browsers--may not always be perfectly understandable to you, we'd appreciate it if you'd accept our requests, and do your best to fulfill them in the spirit of a mutually-respectful business relationship. Yours sincerely, The Client a.k.a. The One Who Signs The Checks

Adam Kalsey
June 9, 2003 10:22 PM

That's a good point. Perhaps I should clarify a bit. Netscape 4 was released in June 1997, so this is the 6th anniversarry of its release. That's what prompted me to write this, not an actual discussion with a client. In most circumstances the client requests Netscape 4 compatibility only because they have been doing so in the past. Their specs -- and other specs they have read -- have always said Netscape 4 is the minimum browser requirement, but they don't really understand the implications. Except in specific situations, Netscape 4 is used by only 1% of worldwide web surfers. Making a Web application compatible with Netscape 4 requires a significant effort, limits the use of techniques and technologies employed, and may compromise compatibility with up and coming devices like mobile browsers. For general purpose Web sites there is no reasonable business case for providing Netscape 4 support. In fact, the time, money, and effort required to build in and maintain Netscape 4 support could be considered a business risk. Unless your decision to support Netscape 4 is based on real site analytics or user interviews, you are probably making a bad decision. As a consultant, it's my job to help you make good decisions, not blindly implement requests that have no basis in reality.

June 10, 2003 1:49 PM

"In most circumstances the client requests Netscape 4 compatibility only because they have been doing so in the past." Now that's where I think a consultant can add value -- helping the client understand why they should be willing to go without N4 support. Perhaps my knee-jerk reaction is due to recent experience with sites like pier1.com, which until recently failed to recognize the Gecko browsers like Safari. When visiting their site with Safari, the user was presented with a message that basically said "our site doesn't work with your browser, please upgrade" along with links to MSFT and Netscape. How 1995 was that? At any rate, you're exactly right, the consultant's job is to assist in making good decisions. Point well made.

June 11, 2003 4:45 AM

"But 2% on Netscape, - that's a really big number!" So's 30%, kiddo, and that's what I'm lopping off your bandwidth bill. My number's bigger, bwa ha ha.

June 17, 2003 11:00 PM

What ever you do just don't do those javascript or whatever checks for os and/or browser version... just display what you have, cause I really really really hate the "you're not using IE under windows, this page isn't going to render so please click here to upgrade" pages when I'm using a perfecty compliant browser that *will* render your page properly. Just a personal complaint of mine :)

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