Web Admin Blog Real Web Admins. Real World Experience.

11Sep/090

Dang, People Still Love Them Some IE6

We get a decent bit of Web traffic here on our site.  I was looking at the browser and platform breakdowns and was surprised to see IE6 still in the lead!  I'm not sure if these stats are representative of "the Internet in general" but I am willing to bet they are representative of enterprise-type users, and we get enough traffic that most statistical noise should be filtered out.  I thought I'd share this; most of the browser market share research out there is more concerned with the IE vs Firefox (vs whoever) competition aspect and less about useful information like versions.  Heck we had to do custom work to get the Firefox version numbers; our Web analytics vendor doesn't even provide that.  In the age of more Flash and Silverlight and other fancy schmancy browser tricks, disregarding what versions and capabilites your users run is probably a bad idea.

  1. IE6 - 23.46%
  2. IE7 - 21.37%
  3. Firefox 3.5 - 17.28%
  4. IE8 - 14.62%
  5. Firefox 3 - 12.52%
  6. Chrome - 4.38%
  7. Opera 9 - 2.20%
  8. Safari - 1.95%
  9. Firefox 2 - 1.27%
  10. Mozilla - 0.48%

It's pretty interesting to see how many people are still using that old of a browser, probably the one their system came loaded with originally.  On the Firefox users, you see the opposite trend - most are using the newest and it tails off from there, probably what people "expect" to see.  The IE users start with the oldest and tail towards the newest!  You'd think that more people's IT departments would have mandated newer versions at least.  I wish we could see what percentage of our users are hitting "from work" vs. "from home" to see if this data is showing a wide disparity between business and consumer browser tech mix.

Bonus stats - Top OSes!

  1. Windows XP - 76.5%
  2. Windows Vista - 14.3%
  3. Mac - 2.7%
  4. Windows NT - 1.8%
  5. Linux - 1.8%
  6. Win2k - 1.5%
  7. Windows Server 2003 - 1.2%

Short form - "everyone uses XP."  Helps explain the IE6 popularity because that's what XP shipped with.

Edit - maybe everyone but me knew this, but there's a pretty cool "Market Share" site that lets people see in depth stats from a large body of data...  Their browser and OS numbers validate ours pretty closely.

16Feb/092

Browser Support – Just Do It

I am moved to post today by a gripe.  We have a lot of products and SaaS vendors that for some reason feel like they don't need to support browsers other than whatever it is they have in their mind as the one browser they're going to support.   I have Firefox 3, Internet Explorer 8 beta, and Chrome on my PC but still can't use many of the darn programs I needed to use today.  (Of course, you can't run different IE versions on the same box without resorting to virtualization or similar, so once I went to IE8 beta I knew I was in a world of hurt).

Let me share with you the top 10 browsers we see on our Web site.  These numbers are from the last 500k visits so they should be statistically representative.

  • IE7 - 34.9%
  • Firefox - 31.0%
  • IE6 - 25.9%
  • Safari (includes Chrome) - 4.1%
  • Opera 9 - 2.3%
  • IE8 beta - .9%
  • Mozilla - .4%
  • Charlotte - .1%
  • Yeti - .1%
  • IE5 - .1%

All you suppliers who think "I don't need to support Firefox" - think again.  And you're all doing a bad job of supporting IE8.  I know it's new - but if you've already been only supporting one browser, be advised that as soon as IE8 goes gold everyone will auto-download it from Microsoft and then you're SOL.   And there's a lot of IE6 out there still, even if you are trying to do "IE only."

To name names - Peopleclick.  IE7 support only.  Really?  You really only want 35% of users to use your product?  Or you think we're going to mandate an internal company standard for your one app?  Get real.

Sharepoint.  No editing in Firefox.  When we evaluated intranet collaboration solutions here, we got down to Atlassian Confluence and Sharepoint as finalists, but then the "no Firefox" factor got Sharepoint booted for cause.  Confluence itself doesn't support Safari until its newest version, which was annoying.  (Microsoft does promise the new version of Sharepoint out later this year will have adequate Firefox support.)

Graphs don't work right in Firefox in Panorama, otherwise a pet favorite APM tool.

So guys - I know it's a pain, but the Windows browser market is split and Macs are undergoing a renaissance.  Real companies don't tell 5 to 10 percent of their customers to screw off (let alone 65%, Peopleclick).  It's a cost of doing business.   You're getting out of a whole bunch of client side code writing by cheating and using Web browsers for it, so be grateful for that rather than ungrateful that you have to test in a couple different browsers.  Because corporate decisionmakers like myself will ask, and we will make buying decisions based on it.

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18Dec/083

Google Chrome Hates You (Error 320)

The 1.0 release of Google Chrome has everyone abuzz.  Here at NI, loads of people are adopting it.  Shortly after it went gold, we started to hear from users that they were having problems with our internal collaboration solution, based on the Atlassian Confluence wiki product.  They'd hit a page and get a terse error, which if you clicked on "More Details" you got the slightly more helpful, or at least Googleable, string  "Error 320 (net::ERR_INVALID_RESPONSE): Unknown error."

At first, it seemed like if people reloaded or cleared cache the problem went away.  It turned out this wasn't true - we have two load balanced servers in a cluster serving this site.  One server worked in Chrome and the other didn't; reloading or otherwise breaking persistence just got you the working server for a time.  But both servers worked perfectly in IE and Firefox (every version we have lying around).

So we started researching.  Both servers were as identical as we could make them.  Was it a Confluence bug?  No, we have phpBB on both servers and it showed the same behavior - so it looked like an Apache level problem.

Sure enough, I looked in the logs.  The error didn't generate an Apache error, it was still considered a 200 OK response, but when I compared the log strings the box that Chrome was erroring on showed that the cookie wasn't being passed up; that field was blank (it was populated with the cookie value on the other box and on both boxes when hit in IE/Firefox).  Both boxes had an identically compiled Apache 2.0.61.  I diffed all the config files- except for boxname and IP, no difference.  The problem persisted for more than a week.

We did a graceful Apache restart for kicks - no effect.  Desperate, we did a full Apache stop/start - and the problem disappeared!  Not sure for how long.  If it recurs, I'll take a packet trace and see if Chrome is just not sending the cookie, or sending it partially, or sending it and it's Apache jacking up...  But it's strange there would be an Apache-end problem that only Chrome would experience.

I see a number of posts out there in the wide world about this issue; people have seen this Chrome behavior in YouTube, Lycos, etc.  Mostly they think that reloading/clearing cache fixes it but I suspect that those services also have large load balanced clusters, and by luck of the draw they're just getting a "good" one.

Any other server admins out there having Chrome issues, and can confirm this?  I'd be real interested in knowing what Web servers/versions it's affecting.  And a packet trace of a "bad" hit would probably show the root cause.  I suspect for some reason Chrome is partially sending the cookie or whatnot, choking the hit.

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6Oct/080

No No, You Really DO Want To Use Live Search

It's been in the news that Microsoft is pushing "rewards programs" for people to use Live Search and the Live Toolbar.  But did you know they're trying to get your local IT department to do it for you?

Yep, the program's called the "Search@Work Rewards Program".  If your IT department puts IE, with Live Search as the default search, and the Live Toolbar installed, and some kind of tracker plugin called the "Search Rewards Client," on your company PCs, then they get Microsoft service credits!  Yay.  I can only assume my ISP is next.

Here's the exact service description from Microsoft.  Note that they're tracking Yahoo and Google ad impressions too!  The rest of it's "fair enough" at least by usual IT industry standards but that's kinda shady I think.