Westpac still running IE6


blog iTNews has published an excellent article today detailing how almost all of Westpac’s staff are still running Internet Explorer 6, and, presumably, Windows XP). The publication reports (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“Westpac staff have been left running outdated operating systems and browsers after the bank indefinitely postponed a $20 million technology refresh project aimed at delivering a consistent desktop experience across the group.”

We’d ask what gives, given that XP first came out in 2001, and even Microsoft itself has set a global countdown watch on the long-lived version 6 of its browser. But the sad truth is that many major financial services organisations and government departments in Australia are still running both. NAB only upgraded to Windows XP from NT (yes, I said NT) in 2008, while CommBank still runs Windows XP (on its MacBook Air fleet, no less) and the Department of Defence only recently upgraded to IE7. Disclosure: Delimiter runs predominantly on Chrome, with the odd Firefox flirtation.


  1. Dig a little deeper into the other banks and you will find that westpac is not alone here in the IE6 space! One of the other big 4 only just completed the SP3 rollout to the XP workstations and the servers patching is 6+ months to years behind what is current patching levels!

  2. It’s important to note the only reason most organisations are running IE6 is because most web applications currently in use were purpose built for IE6, and they simply will not work in later versions. It’s not just a matter of upgrading a browser in most cases, and the OS is even more complicated with all the startup scripts that are often involved.
    I do agree that they really need to recognise the worth of the investment, though.

      • No, not really. Most ‘compatibility modes’ still don’t work in exactly the same way for complex apps, and in some cases (e.g. IE8) require a change in the DOCTYPE which (most of the time) can’t really be done.

    • I’m sorry, that’s fine when you have legacy web applications that are IE6 specific. But the problem is, and I have seen this many times before, in house development projects with develop IE6 specific platforms.

      The fact is, at some point, you’re going to have to upgrade, and relying on the legacy web applications as an excuse won’t cut it any-more. Why then are companies making the problem worse for themselves by continuing to develop applications for IE6?

      • Totally, 110% agree with you on this one. Thank you for stating what really should be the flippin’ obvious.

      • Can’t say I’ve worked for anyone who does that, and I definitely agree with you. I know web developers are often required to support IE6, and that in itself is ridiculous (but will soon be unnecessary once Microsoft discontinue support). It’s just the legacy applications that hold them back (although I know at the moment some companies are developing for current browsers and only keeping IE6 for the life of the legacy applications).

        • Unfortunately it does happen, although the last time I saw it happen personally was 3 years ago. And it does make business sense if you need to cut costs.

          If your current working platform is IE6, and you have legacy applications that are business critical, impossible to upgrade, and you are developing a new application for a new function, you will develop it to your working platform. Since you don’t see it necessary to test it on other working platforms because it’s an in house project (it will only be run on your working platform), your application is never testing on a modern browser.

          Come your “we need to upgrade our platform because there are unpatched security issues that could be exploited” speech from someone in IT, and the vendor of your mission critical application has a new version that supports IE9, you start doing migration testing to upgrade your platform and find the developers on the aforementioned new in-house application, which now is (of course) mission critical did a hack job and the application has some bugs that need to be resolved when you use it on IE9. Unfortunately you spent all your money buying the new version of the vendor’s product and can’t hire someone to fix your broken in house application, so you shelf the Win7/IE9 upgrade indefinitely.

          And yes, Matthew, it should be flippin’ obvious, but apparently that was lost on the guys working at a new in house system at a undisclosed company in 2009. And I have no doubt it will be lost on some developer in 2012.

  3. I work at another financial institution that is still running XP desktops. Just the way banks work. Hopefully well see windows 7 and server 2008 sometime this year. Not holding my breath.

  4. It is “interesting” how many corporate entities cling to Microsoft products even when there are free and/or superior products available. Ignorance would be an excuse for a consumer user but we are talking about highly paid & educated IT Professionals, so is it caution, collusion, graft & corruption or what?

    • I shudder to think what execs would say if you came to them with a proposal to roll out Linux company-wide. Moreover, most IT support staff would simply collapse under the weight of moron users telling them that ‘the website is down’ (translation: they can’t find the IE icon on their desktop).

  5. I’m an engineer working for one of the major telcos, and we are also still running a Windows XP SOE. In addition to that sad state of affairs, many users are still using IE6 as well, despite a company-wide IE8 ‘pilot programme’ (which is really now a de jure roll-out) that can be joined by any user.

    • I’m an engineer working for one of the major telcos, and we are also still running a Windows XP SOE.

      I am also an engineer working for one of the major telcos, and the problem with an OS upgrade in the engineering space is the number of NMS’s that are run and the compatibility issues with all of them with this major a change.

      Obviously I don’t know who you work for, but in my roll I easily use around 10+ different NMSs on a near daily basis, compatibility issues have to be sorted before a rollout. And in some cases the vendor doesn’t exist or the software is beyond service life, so there are no updates coming to make it compatible, this adds to the complications.

      For reference other areas of the company do have Windows7, but they also run fewer and already compatibility tested systems too.

  6. Damned if you do… Damned if you don’t.

    As someone who is piloting Win7/IE9 at work (fed govt – moving off XP/IE7), I can confirm IE9 also breaks numerous internal apps (commercial products) and the built in Compatibility Mode is an afterthought that causes more issues than it should. Browser compatibility is not to be underestimated!

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