cmpm, i will ask them next time if they are using any downloaders.. that might be a possible explanation also.
i guess i was hoping it was some misconfiguration on our server which could be corrected.
Server Administration 101 - Never make changes to the server based on user input. Check the logs, if the server says it's OK ... then 99% of the time it is. Feel free to adjust users as necessary...
Granted that's for LAN/WAN network administration, but it transcends rather nicely to public access services.
One thing that is not being addressed here is how much control do you have over "your server". My web server is sitting in a rack about 10' from me ... so I have complete control. If yours is at a hosting company (dedicated or not...) you're at their mercy as to how to handle traffic spikes. Transfer stability can be impacted depending on how the hosting company decides to "throttle back" a site during a spike.
Blaming IE for the DL issues is convenient (easy... as IE bashing appears to be a hobby round these parts) but it doesn't resolve anything because it doesn't really identify anything specific. But then again witch hunts seldom do.
I spend a goodly part of my day explaining to users why their computers don't really hate them, and removing tons of 3rd party (tripe) browser add-ons, tool-bars, "Helper Objects", and all manner of other crap that they thought they just had to have.
I've always used IE and never had a problem... however I have seen many things break it and cause issues. Just for fun, while exploring the client side aspect of the issue, ask the broken download crowd how many of them are using the Norton Internet Security suite. Symantec got in a fight with MS awhile back over the smooth-wall (no kernel hooks) kernel ... and their over compensation for it has turned all their AV products into total poo.