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How to “force” users to upgrade their browser?

Solutons:


Updated Answer – March 2013
Since this answer was posted on November 2012, Google has discontinued this plugin. While it might still work as of today (March, 2014) there is no guarantee of it working in the future. As of January 2014, support for Chrome Frame is discontinued:

http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2013/06/chrome-frame-discontinued.html

Given these factors we’ve decided to retire Chrome Frame, and will
cease support and updates for the product in January 2014. If you are
a developer with an app that points users to Chrome Frame, please
prompt visitors to upgrade to a modern browser. You can learn more
about these changes in our FAQ.

If you’re an IT administrator you can give your employees the full
capabilities of a modern browser today, even if you depend on older
technology to run certain web apps. Check out Chrome for Business
coupled with Legacy Browser Support, which allows employees to switch
seamlessly between Chrome and another browser. Chrome is secure,
stable and speedy, and runs on all major desktop and mobile OSs. IT
admins can also configure 100+ policies to make Chrome fit their
needs.

The blog post points to Chrome for Business with support to automatically open specified web-pages in alternate browsers

https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/business/browser/lbs.html?utm_source=0613entblogchromeframe&utm_medium=blog

Original Answer
Key point that hasn’t been mentioned: Some people CAN’T upgrade.

At work, I’m forced to IE8 (Upgraded from IE6 late last year, early this year).

Do what Basecamp does. Push IE 6/7/8 into Chrome-Frame : Basecamp: Please upgrade browser
enter image description here

You can’t “Force” everyone to upgrade. Some users don’t have the option. Give them options to use within their restrictions (Work Restrictions, lack of admin rights, etc.).

Work restrictions prevent upgrading certain applications. This app only works with IE8. That app crashes on Adobe 10+. XPSP3 breaks this. SQL Server patch #12345 breaks that. I heard recently that the main restriction to upgrading isn’t convincing people. It’s paying the bill to upgrade Foo to work with Shiny-New Bar.

(Granted, at work I have admin so I use Chrome. BUT I CAN tell other users to use IE8 + Chrome Frame, for those who can’t/won’t stray outside of “supported” boundaries.)

Chrome Frame FAQ

How can I enable Google Chrome Frame for my site?

You make your pages work with Google Chrome Frame by adding a single
tag, like this: <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="chrome=1">

Google Frame Installed + That tag = Chrome Engine used inside IE6-9. They keep IE6. You stop supporting IE6. Win-Win.

You want your users to use your service. Your users want to use the service but they need to invest first (i.e. time to upgrade their browser).

Ideas:

  • First of all be nice and show an empathic message, e.g. like Apple does if you run a browser that’s not supported by iCloud
  • Tell them why it’s worth investing the time (list benefits, preview what they can expect)
  • Give them a little incentive (a voucher, maybe a few bucks off on their first purchase)

Example from Apple iCloud

Edit:
As mentioned by @Darq and @pMan below it would be better if such a screen would

  • provide links to the corresponding browser download pages
  • put even more empathy in the copy, along with a clear call to action

Another example:

enter image description here

You might want to briefly try explaining the value of upgrading, while promoting the action with positive language, and demoting the negative action with not exactly negative language, but just less positive.

You also need to provide information for those who are unable to upgrade (for example corporate restrictions may prevent use of anything except IE6), so that no visitors who see this page feel they are stuck at a dead end – always provide an exit route.

Below is a mock up that uses the language carefully to make the upgrade attractive, with the added value of improving the experience on other sites as well as yours. The big button appeals to the emotional impulse to want better, while the smaller button confirms acceptance of the fact that the website is not possible to view.

I’m not saying copy this page verbatim – it’s just an example of the use of language, expression, and presentation of choices.

enter image description here

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