Sunday, April 13, 2008

Browsers, systems, proxies, and Warman

Several commentators have pointed out that the 700,000 possible Rogers' customers with access to doesn't take into account that the Cools posting was made by computer using Windows 98 and the browser Internet Explorer 6.0, and this was the same set-up that "lucy" had used three months later.

To review. was one of 42 Rogers caching proxies, which meant that Rogers' traffic was funneled through these computers. They would save copies of files, and if a file was present in the cache, it would be sent back to the user instead of forwarding the request to the site. If the file was not present in the cache, the proxy would forward the request, but rewrite the packet header so that it now looked like the traffic was coming from the proxy, not the original requester. In the packet would also be details about the configuration of the original computer, including its operating system and browser. (The widget to the right collects these details and reports it back.)

Obviously this consideration decreases the size of the pool considerably, since Windows 98 by that stage was getting long in the tooth. To judge by W3 Schools statistics (h/t to Lance at, only 12% of users world-wide were using Windows 98; the same site (again h/t Lance) reports (here) that 69.7% of users were using IE 6.0. Taken together these imply something like 10% of all internet traffic used this combination.

Two quibbles. First, this was 2003, when the Canadian dollar was at $0.63, which may have produced a drag on hard-ware replacement and thus meant that Canadians lagged a little in the move away from Windows 98. Second, the browser statistics are browser-use for all Operating Systems, not only those using Windows 98, for whom some of the browser options listed there (Mozilla at 6% and Opera at 2%) were probably little used among the old system. Both these considerations should inch the total upwards slightly. But 10% will not be far wrong.

So, 10% of 700,000 Rogers customers in Ontario is 70,000. (Another quibble that may force this upward -- I'm not sure that I am correct to limit this to Ontario customers. I suspect, but cannot demonstrate, that customers in Quebec, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland were also proxied through these three banks)

(Interesting side-note: these old systems are not completely gone. I had two visits yesterday from users who had the Windows 98 and IE 6.0 combination.)