If you are an Internet Explorer user, please, please, please, update your browser.

On a recent project, I spent considerable time trying to get the layout and controls of the site to work when viewed through Internet Explorer 6. Why did I feel this was important? Statistics show that a major portion of the web users are viewing online content using IE. Estimates run anywhere from 60% to 85% of users. Statistics vary, because no one group or organization can possibly gather data for all users, however, taking many popular sites and averaging their statistics can give you a pretty fair idea. Of the 60-85% of users that view the web with IE, a large portion still seem to be using IE version 6. This is a bad thing… a very bad thing. Why?

Simply put, IE 6 is not standards conforming. The W3C has set forth standards for the underlying code on web pages. This helps to ensure that content and data can be universally rendered and understood. Although IE6 does largely conform to the standards of HTML and CSS, very often it simply ignores rules and therefore nasty flaws in its rendering engine are revealed when viewing certain combinations of standards-compliant code. For examples, see here: http://www.positioniseverything.net/explorer.html

Tips and tricks exist to avoid most of the bugs, but seriously, should web developers be expected to side-step standards to support users that continue to use buggy software that is 8 years old (released in 2001) and is now two versions behind the latest? More importantly, money is regularly wasted in the time spent to ensure that a site or front-end to a web application can be properly viewed in IE6. If you are a web developer, how much time do you spend ensuring that IE 6 users can view your site? You might be surprised by the answer.

Internet Explorer is now up to version 8. Thankfully, this version finally takes the approach of adhering closely to the W3C’s standards. If you are an IE user, (and this post was not intended to spark that debate), please, make everyone’s life easier and update your browser.

4 thoughts on “No more IE6, please

  1. Funny you should mention this. Look what made the front page of CNN.com/tech:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/08/06/internet.explorer.six/index.html

    This issue affects more than just the developers. Think of the support nightmare this creates: the need to have multiple VMs running different versions of IE/Windows! Also, as an end-user, I find it difficult to adjust to “new” features like tabbed browsing at home, then come to an office environment an have my ctrl+tab or ctrl+t request go off into the application ether!

    Granted, having worked for a number of large corporations, I know how the IT department may be hampered by policy on the matter. A lot of (un)necessary due diligence is performed to ensure that existing applications won’t be broken by “enhancements” in new software versions. (Yeah, come on, now, even with newer versions of FireFox or Safari some existing things got teh broken…let’s not beat up Micro$oft only.) But still, if you wrote something that is now broken by software whose release date is only a few years removed from your rollout….uhm, yeah. Make the change and keep up with current technology…or don’t. That’s a tough call for a major corporation these days, when newer tech seems to be more and more “gimmicky” these days (Uh, I’d like our existing finance application to support Twitter updates and FaceBook alerts please! /rant)

    So all this in response to say, yeah, this is gaining more steam…but will the train ever get anywhere?

    Reply
  2. I agree with the need to rid IE 6 from my perspective as a web developer, it’s a nightmare to code for. You say “If you are an Internet Explorer user, please, please, please, update your browser.” Therein lies the problem, studies have shown that most users on IE 6 can’t update their browsers — in fact they simply can’t because they don’t have privileges.

    The typical IE 6 user is on a corporate machine with Windows XP & IE 6. These configurations will be around for a while yet and statistics have even shown that perhaps IE 6 will outlast / outlive IE 7. It’s a scary thought.

    I am developing a new Drupal site for a technology company and one of my first questions was if they needed their site to work on IE 6. We looked at their Google analytic browser stats and sure enough there were a significant number of users on their existing site to warrant making the new site work 100% on IE6. It would be great to put a nice browser upgrade warning but in the case of an IE 6 user, they would not be able to.

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  3. Pingback: ter Smitten's ยป No more IE6, please

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