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Online retailer plans to “tax” Internet Explorer 7 users

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Web surfers tend to be pretty loyal to their browsers. Once you figure out the shortcuts and placement of everything, it's kind of a pain to upgrade to a dramatically revamped interface -- or a new browser altogether.

The problem is, programming sites for those antiquated browsers can be a major headache. Now one online retailer is fighting back, announcing plans to add a 6.8 percent "tax" onto the purchases of anyone who visits their site using Internet Explorer 7.

Australian electronics retailer is leading the charge against IE7, saying it's tired of wasting the time (and money) it takes to ensure site updates are compatible with the browser.

"Internet Explorer 7 has long since passed its use-by date," said Ruslan Kogan, the company's founder and CEO. "It's a constant source of frustration for our web guys and we're sick of burning cash on a browser that hit the market nearly six years ago. … It's not only costing us a huge amount, it's affecting any business with an online presence, and costing the internet economy millions of dollars."

Kogan and his team might hate the browser, but it's still used by a significant number of people. According to W3Counter, more than 5 percent of the Web surfing that occurred in May was done on IE7. That's roughly the same amount as the current version of Apple's Safari browser.

That IE7 "tax" (which, technically, is a penalty, since Kogan will be keeping the money), will be going up regularly as well. The company plans to increase the amount by 0.1 percent every month, so the number reflects the age of the browser.

Ironically, some coders note that while IE7 is, indeed, an old browser, it's hardly the worst out there.

"Developing for IE7 usually isn't that bad," said boutique design firm Bop Design in a blog post. "Most of the time, IE7 will behave as expected."

While the move could potentially anger some customers, the retailer doesn't seem concerned about that. Instead, it says, the penalty is meant to help the Internet be a better place.


"As Internet citizens, we all have a responsibility to make the Internet a better place," said Kogan. "By taking these measures, we are doing our bit. We'll also be able to 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."

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