CCH and Browser Requirements

Had an interesting back and forth with CCH on the browser requirements with their new tax research software. Their system requirements page lists as required Windows 98/2000/XP/Vista and Internet Explorer 6/7. If those were truly the requirements I would have to cancel out my CCH subscription.

Why? I have a policy in my office of not allowing users generally to run Internet Explorer due to the huge security problem that has been (and to some extent continues to be) ActiveX. The concept is so fundamentally flawed that it simply, in my view, rules out the use of IE by anyone not highly technically skilled.

That is, my users can’t reliably make the call on whehter or not it’s OK to allow an ActiveX control to be installed. As well, the fact that virtually any DLL will be loaded up by IE as an ActiveX control is a big security hole–hackers discover problems in programs that were never meant to be run as an ActiveX control and then use IE to run those programs and exploit their weaknesses.

As well, I do tax research on my portable devices (iPod Touch and Blackberry)–and those don’t run Internet Explorer, but they are rather dominant business portable devices. Losing that access would frankly be totally unacceptable.

I wrote CCH about this requirement and discovered, as I suspected, this was just a “suggestion” and that, in fact, Firefox runs it just fine. That’s not suprising, since the current CCH research system requirements exclude Vista. But it is disquieting, since it means CCH has reserved the right to simply foist blame on Firefox for any of their glitches, rather than recognizing that a significant and growing component of the market uses Firefox.

Of course, given the history they can (and likely would) do the same thing with Windows 7 and Internet Explorer 8, even though those will likley be the standard Microsoft shipping setup shortly after they’ve rolled out the new software.

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