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Poor Unfortunate Internet Explorer 6

David Silversmith
David Silversmith

If you are reading this, odds are good that you are using an Internet Browser.  Maybe Firefox, perhaps Safari, Chrome if you are a Google fan or Internet Explorer if you have stuck with the Window's default.  All are good - but if you are reading this using Internet Explorer Version 6 than you better beware because there is a rising tide to rid the Internet of your browser!

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 was released in late 2001 - during the first Internet boom period. For its time, it was a fine browser and eight years later it is still in use by a significant portion of the web population.  However, many web sites would like to see Internet Explore 6 bite the dust.  However, IE6 is the standard browser of Windows XP which is still the most used operating system around the world.

As most any web developer can tell you, working with IE 6 is one of the most difficult and frustrating things they have to deal with on a daily basis.  It takes a disproportionate amount of time for developers to ensure their code will work in IE 6. Even beyond that, IE6's support for modern web standards is very lacking, thus restricting what developers can create and according to the anti IE crowd this is holding the web back.  The killer limitation is that IE6 does not support Cascading Style Sheets version 2 - which did not even exist when IE 6 rolled out. CSS v2 is the code that enables much of the creative design on the web today.  There are also many security issues and minor issues like many image files (those in the PNG format) won’t display correctly in IE6.

Some of the largest sites on the Internet are beginning to reduce support for IE6. Digg and YouTube have announced that they’re cutting back on IE6 support. Facebook already gives you suggestions for better browsers if you try to log in with IE6. In the near future you won’t be able to Digg articles or browse YouTube via IE6.   37Signals, the maker of popular web-based Basecamp business application very publicly cut support for IE6 because according to them, “continued support of IE 6 means that we can’t optimize our interfaces or provide an enhanced customer experience in our apps.”
For many users however, they use IE6 at work where they don't have control over their choice of web browsers. The best data available as to what percentage of IE6 users are forced by their company to use the browser is a Digg survey, which shows that 70% of IE 6 users are in this boat.  This is because many corporate IT departments don't feel any need or urgency to upgrade, and receive very few complaints.

The anti IE6 crowd sees their effort as a start -- the more complaints the IT department gets, the more pressure corporate IT will feel to upgrade. Even with these efforts, the simple reality is that the majority of businesses and people use the browser installed on their PC when they bought it and they only change when they get a new PC or some event forces them to change.  So IE6 will continue to survive until a significant event like Microsoft or Google announcing that they will no longer support IE6.

But, if you are using IE6 - you are missing out on much of the Internet.  So maybe you will join this effort and upgrade now?

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