says upgrading from IE6 'too expensive'

Internet Explorer

The UK Government says it will continue to use the ageing Internet Explorer 6 web browser for the immediate future, saying an upgrade would be too expensive.

Responding to a online petition to upgrade from 6,000 internet users concerned over the browser's security, rejected the call, claiming the complexity of an upgrade would come at too high a cost to the taxpayer.

"It is not straightforward for [Government] departments to upgrade IE versions on their systems," the response to the petition read.

"Upgrading these systems to IE8 can be a very large operation, taking weeks to test and roll out to all users. To test all the web applications currently used by [Government] departments can take months at significant potential cost to the taxpayer."

"It is therefore more cost effective in many cases to continue to use IE6 and rely on other measures, such as firewalls and malware scanning software, to further protect public sector internet users."

The petition, organised by Inigo Media's Dan Frydman, was sent to Number 10 earlier this year as IE6's vulnerability to attack become increasingly exposed.

Microsoft itself has been strongly urging users of the older version of the browser to upgrade for months, with a blog on Microsoft Australia's site going as far as to compare using IE6 to drinking nine-year-old milk.

However, the petition response dismissed the fears, claiming there was no reason to believe upgrading to a newer version of the browser would make public systems any more secure.

"Complex software will always have vulnerabilities and motivated adversaries will always work to discover and take advantage of them," the Government's response argued.

"There is no evidence that upgrading away from the latest fully patched versions of Internet Explorer to other browsers will make users more secure."