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Why an Australian Entrepreneur Is Taxing You for Using Internet Explorer 7


MIcrosoft's solid browser is a major pain for businesses on the Web. One man is fighting back.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Microsoft's (MSFT) Internet Explorer is such a historic part of the Web that its continued use is almost like the Mongolian Empire still being a world power today. This is the browser that got Microsoft in trouble for anti-competitive practices in the late '90s. IE was one of the first to support CSS (the code that makes pages look nice; before this, the whole web looked like the Drudge Report) and Ajax (which lets you move the map in Google (GOOG) Maps without having to load another page). The newer versions of the browser has some great features like pinning your favorite pages to the taskbar in Windows 7 to make websites like Pandora (P) work almost like an application.

Unfortunately, a lot of people neglect to update their browsers, leaving themselves vulnerable to innumerable security threats and spyware. Just today, Microsoft thanked Google for spotting a vulnerability in IE that exposed Windows IE users to attacks that could compromise their Gmail data. Many users received a chilling popup reading, "Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer."

That hole is still not patched up as of this morning.

Even Microsoft's promotion for the latest version of the browser, titled "The Browser You Loved To Hate," pokes fun at IE's previous awfulness, sheepishly saying, "We all have awkward years."

For web developers, IE is a major hassle. All browsers render pages slightly differently, but outdated versions of IE are particularly hard to please. Developers spend a huge amount of time simply trying to get Web pages to look right for people that are too lazy to upgrade or switch to Safari (AAPL), Chrome, or Firefox. There is even a WordPress plugin called "Save the Developers!" that gives IE6 users a not-so-subtle reminder to upgrade.

One Australian Internet entrepreneur is taking matters into his own hands. Ruslan Kogan, owner of, a consumer electronics manufacturer and distributor, is actually punishing visitors to his retail site with an extra 6.8% tax to make up for the opportunity cost of developing for IE7 users.

On his blog, (hat tip to TechCrunch) Kogan wrote:

The way we've been able to keep our prices so low is by using technology to make our business efficient and streamlined. One of the things stopping that is our Web team having to spend a lot of time making our new website look normal on IE7. This is an extremely old browser, so from today, anyone buying from the site who uses IE7 will be lumped with a 6.8% surcharge -- that's 0.1% for each month IE7 has been on the market. It's not only costing us a huge amount, it's affecting any business with an online presence, and costing the Internet economy millions.

This will help us increase our efficiency, help keep prices for all smart shoppers down, and hopefully help eradicate the world of the pain in the rear that is IE7.

Kogan might be beating a dead horse since Google Chrome has already rocketed past IE recently, but he has a point. If developers could spend their time doing something else rather than trying to please the users of antiquated browsers, companies could save money. Multiply that by every company with a website, and that's a lot of human-hours of work that don't have to happen.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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