DISCLAIMER: This post is provided AS IS with no warranties and confers no rights.  This is not an official Microsoft response but rather a view at exploring options with IE6 and SharePoint 2010.  Also, my personal opinion is that using IE6 with SharePoint 2010 should be a last resort after evaluating risks and concerns compared to a migration.  But I’m also a consultant and have to look at all solutions to better guide customers effectively with their business in mind, not just wishful thinking that all companies can simply upgrade easily.  The intended workload in this post is for team collaboration as this is the primary requirement where companies don't want to wait until their upgrade to IE7+ is done.

 

Official supportability statement

First off, officially, Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) is not supported.  The reason for that is simple, not everything was tested for IE6, and also, the new ribbon interface does not work with IE6.  I’ve posted screen shots for the standard SharePoint 2010 templates with IE6 here : http://blogs.msdn.com/b/maximeb/archive/2010/04/01/what-sharepoint-2010-looks-like-with-internet-explorer-6.aspx.

The official browser supportability statements can be found here:

Note regarding publishing sites: for visitors, you are typically managing the GUI so you have to make it work with IE6.  For authors, I would strongly suggest to upgrade their browsers and use the 2010 interfaces as it’s much more effective and you are unlikely to have too many authors that you wouldn’t be able to manage their workstations.

Upgrade is the best solution

Now that we got that out of the way, in consulting with large companies, government agencies, and with financial services organizations, it’s typical to have Windows XP + IE6 in those organization.  While the official story is that IE6 is about 5% of the browser market, they are 100% of my customers with 100k of SharePoint seats.

While IE6 is supported until 2014, these organizations should obviously look at upgrading IE6 for several security, performance, and functionality reasons.  However, my experience is that these organizations also depends on IE6 through add-ons and ActiveX that do not work on IE8.  For example, you may have a 3rd party application that uses an add-on, but upgrading that add-on to work on IE8 requires a substantial upgrade of the back-end systems it talks to as well!  Migrating the browser then becomes a full blown upgrade.

This contributes to the shift away from Internet Explorer where these organizations are starting to deploy FireFox or another browser – which starts a very big and different challenge with managing this tool, deploying patches, having the user start the right browser for the right thing, etc.

 

MED-V is the next best thing

If upgrade is not the solution, the next best thing is to look at a solution such as MED-V where you stream one version of the browser.  It requires some investment in deploying MED-V, and to deploy the right icons to start the right browser version depending on where the user is going.  This could done from a portal or through a light deployment on the user desktops.  This allow to quickly have IE8 centrally while keeping IE6 on the desktop while the massive upgrade to IE8 project can go on.  When it does upgrade, you can then provide IE6 centrally for the users and few applications that needs it.  This solution should be evaluated and seriously considered before the next and last one.

 

I can’t upgrade, can anything work with IE6?

If you can’t upgrade, and you can’t use MED-V, can you still use IE6 with SharePoint 2010?  We know it’s not supported (I hope I was clear by now), and this is why I put a disclaimer that it’s not an official Microsoft response, however, the question is “Is there anything that works with IE6 to give me enough time to go through my upgrade?”  After all, if you take a 2007 site and upgrade it to 2010, it still looks like it was before which still works with IE6. 

Before going into details of what works and what doesn’t, let me quickly discuss the supportability statement and how it relates to making a support call.  What it primarily means is that if you make a support call, you will have to reproduce the problem with a supported browser before.  It also means that there might (will) be some areas where the UI will not look right to your users.  As with any solution, you will have to look at the solution, validate it against your use case, and identify any gap + resolutions.  It’s about risks management and mitigations.  If you don’t want any risks with using the platform today, stop reading and go with SharePoint 2007.  However, if you plan to migrate to 2010 in a near future, that also brings risks, concerns, and costs.

 

SharePoint 2010 functionality matrix with IE6

Without further ado or warnings, here’s the breakdown of what I tested with IE6 and SharePoint 2010:

Legend:

  • Works with IE6 (Works with IE6)
  • Works with IE6 but slight visual impact (Works with IE6 but slight visual impact)
  • Does not work with IE6 (Does not work with IE6)
  • Did not test / out of scope (Did not test / out of scope)

Functionality

IE6?

Comments

2007 Team Site model

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Creating a site

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Creating a list / library

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Authoring properties to a document/list item

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In-Place records

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Multi-stage retentions

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Document sets

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Document IDs

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Content Organizer

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Managed Term Store

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Managed Metadata column

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On the test, the first time I edited the list item, it contained a ▗, but I could select (with the auto-search) without any problem

Metadata drive navigation

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Solution store

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Site Web Analytics Reports

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The Site Web Analytics Reports action item in the Site Settings is not available on non-visually upgraded sites.

Ratings column

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This requires the “SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure” feature to be activated at the site collection.

Workflows

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Visio Workflows

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Ajax Async load

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Not sure if it does an ASYNC load, but it doesn’t break neither.

Recycle Bin

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Fabulous 40 templates

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They should work properly once updated, but I didn’t take the time to test them.

Private My Site

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My Sites changed so much with 2010 that I didn’t want to look at an acceptable IE6 solution.  If My Sites are absolutely necessary with IE6, go with SharePoint 2007.  You could also look at having My Sites on a SharePoint 2007 farm with Team Sites on 2010.

Public My Site

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Since the template is a 2010 look, it doesn’t work very well and there’s a popup (modifiable) that mentions it’s not compatible

WSS search (i.e.: the shared search box)

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Portal search

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Had to create a site definition that looks like 2007

FAST Search

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Enterprise features

People search

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It doesn’t look right by default. However, since the results can be adapted through XSLT, it should be fixable.

List Web Part

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Contact List Web Part

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Announcement List Web Part

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Calendar Web Part

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Links Web Part

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Tasks List Web Part

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Content Editor Web Part

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Picture Library Slide Show Web Part

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Note Board Web Part

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Organization Browser Web Part

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Site Users Web Part

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Tag Cloud Web Part

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Adding tags

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It’s not part of the template; I’ll see how I can update it to test it. But the web part that shows the tags works.

(Any Enterprise functionality)

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BDC Web Parts

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Excel Services

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Office Web Apps

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This obviously doesn’t work. Note also that if you have Office Web Apps installed, and your user doesn’t have Office, the New action in a document library will start Office Web Apps which won’t work with IE6.

Access Services

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Central Admin

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Since you have to install on Windows 2008, you will have an IE7+ browser so I don’t see value to test this with IE6.

Tags

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The answer here is it depends – the 2010 view of tags is not shown and I didn’t test it. I’m sure you could look at adding the control in the layout with 2007 and see if it works. However, what I know that works is the Managed Metadata keywords column so you can make it work.

Any other social aspect

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Since most of this comes with the My Sites, I didn’t test them. However, you can start socially contributing with Note Board and Tags.

Content Hub Syndication

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Intended scope of this evaluation

My intended scope of this evaluation is for customers that are looking at implementing their first enterprise SharePoint solution but are still using IE6, or that they have a Team Site type installation with 2007 and want to migrate to gain some of the 2010 benefits.  However, outside of my scope are all enterprise features such as Office Web Apps, FAST, and external data.  Social networking with 2010 is unfortunately out of this scope as well due to its requirement to IE7+.

Underlying this is that companies will migrate in the next 1-2 years to IE7.

 

How to make it work

The basis of my evaluation was using the 2007 templates, update them to 2010, and simply use them.  The main components to update are :

  • In the ONET.XML definition, with the <Project> element, add a property called UIVersion with a value of “3”.
  • In the ONET.XML definition, with the <Configuration> element, add a property called MasterUrl with a value of “_catalogs/masterpage/default.master”
  • Either use PowerShell to set the SPSite.UIVersionConfigurationEnabled to true, or use the little feature that does the same thing if you activate it (with your Site Definition).
    • This allows the Visual Upgrade page to enable the buttons so that you can upgrade from the interface.  If you don’t want to allow it from there, you can omit this item.

Once you are ready to visually upgrade, you can simply run a PowerShell command.  Look at Todd Klindt’s blog at http://www.toddklindt.com/blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=173

You can download my sample templates here that are for demo purposes only but can help you kick start (NOTE: they are not production ready, especially the search one).  The link is : http://cid-869ff26f3797a09a.office-df.live.com/self.aspx/MaximeB-MSDNBlog/SharePoint%20and%20IE6/IE6CompatibleModels.zip or the icon below.

 

Impacts of the solution

From a technical perspective, this is very little different than doing a migration from 2007 to 2010 with the exception that I left out the My Sites.  The only negative impact could come from some area where I didn’t test IE6 and that it wouldn’t visually work properly.  There's always a possibility that some web part have new properties (Ajax enabled?) that could have some effect.  I did NOT test everything, this is a start for discussion for environments that are transitioning to IE7+ but requires SharePoint collaboration prior to full deployment.  If you go this route, which I repeat is not supported, you will need to test everything properly.  That's the major impact.

 

On the positive side, you gain several key functionalities for users, but also a lot of them for the administrators.  More importantly, you aren’t forcing to spend a lot of money for a migration project in the near future.

 

What about My Sites?

I purposely did not test the new My Sites with IE6. Well actually I did but I knew that the template would not work with IE6. Furthermore, I don’t want to go into creating a template that will work with IE6 (but yes, it’s possible). With the intended scope, I assume that companies will migrate to IE7+ in the near future so they shouldn’t develop for IE6 on templates that will not migrate great.

There is so much with the new My Sites that I’d rather recommend having a small SharePoint 2007 farm just for My Sites as a trusted my site location. You can even use SharePoint 2010 search to crawl it so your My Site farm can really be very small.

Once you have your browser upgraded, you can port over the farm and migrate it so that you gain all new capabilities.

 

Can I still do Social?

So the Note Board and tags are working – it’s a start. The rest comes mostly from the My Sites so I’m skipping those. The activity feeds will still be fed, but you won’t see them until you move the My Sites to 2010.

 

Screenshots with IE6

You can download all pictures here : http://cid-869ff26f3797a09a.office-df.live.com/self.aspx/MaximeB-MSDNBlog/SharePoint%20and%20IE6.  You can select to download all as a zip from the menu as well.

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Figure 1: Team Site

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Figure 2: Team Site with more stuff

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Figure 3: Shared Documents

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Figure 4: Shared Documents with Metadata driven navigation

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Figure 5: Shared Documents Library Settings

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Figure 6: Search this site

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Figure 7: Search Portal

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Figure 8: People Search

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Figure 9: View All Site Content

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Figure 10: Site Collection Settings

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Figure 11: Record Declaration Settings

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Figure 12: SharePoint Designer settings

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Figure 13: Term Store Management tool

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Figure 14: Visual Upgrade Settings

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Figure 15: Solution Gallery

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Figure 16: Discussions/Forums

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Figure 17: Edit Web Part

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Figure 18: Metadata column

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Figure 19: Social Ratings

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Figure 20: Workflows

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Figure 21: My Profile 2010 version on IE6