Goodbye, IE6… May the Social Web Rise from Your Ashes

By Rob Marscher

IE6 Cartoon ImageTo say the developers here at Affinitive (and around the world) are happy to see Microsoft’s decade old web browser finally go away is a big understatement. Over the last several years there have been many people advocating for “death to Internet Explorer 6.” But in the last couple of months, several things have come around to finally give IE6 the push out the door.

Security has long been an issue for IE6 that Microsoft has continually patched up over the years. The “Operation Aurora” attack on Google and other companies back in January used yet another unknown security hole in IE6, and seemed to lead much of the internet community to say “enough is enough” and expedite efforts to stop supporting the use of the old browser.

It has been long known that Microsoft will stop supporting IE6 in 2014. Not surprisingly, Google and Apple are among the leaders in making people upgrade as soon as possible. Apple’s MobileMe has not supported it for a few years. Google Docs will no longer work in IE6 next week on March 1. YouTube will follow on March 13 and Gmail later in the year.

Security issues aside, the main problem is that IE6 is the product of the 90′s and Web 1.0 methodologies. This was before there were many established standards for the web and when having features that only worked on your browser was a good idea. Check out the great “Life, Times (and Death?) of Internet Explorer 6” comic strip by Brad Colbow to brush up on your history.

So when new standards were introduced and Web2.0 came around, “hacks” had to be used to get these new great parts of the Web to work on IE6. Creating these hacks is quite costly in terms of developer time and often make the site slower. Web2.0 makes heavy use of javascript to make everything speedy and interactive, but even IE7 (the successor to IE6) is much slower at running javascript than other web browsers. So even though you spent tons of money to create the greatest web site, it’s not going to seem so great to all the people that are still using IE6.

Image showing the upgrade your browser message on Facebook
[via Facebook with language set to Pirate]

So rather than continue to create these hacks and make people think they don’t need to upgrade, the best tactic is to serve up a simple alternate version of your site with a message informing users how to upgrade to something better for free. Spend your money implementing better new features than wasting your time making everything work in IE6.

Last week, we had our first official ok from a client to not support IE6. It made our day. IE6 is finally going away, you can feel it in the air, and I’m happy to join with thousands of web programmers and designers around the world in a collective “Huzzah!”

[IE6 Cartoon image taken from RobotJohnny.com]

[EDIT 2/28/2008: we found a site with code you can simply plop just inside the body tag of your html to encourage users to upgrade: ie6nomore.com]

  • http://www.directorysubmissionservices.net Nick

    Why use a piece of software that is 7 years old? That is really pre historic (and IE6 acts like a prehistoric thing). Is anyone using Netscape (the horror!), mozilla , opera10.61?, or safari . Probably not, because all these browsers released already new versions (or died -> Netscape).

    Due the fact microsoft did not release upgrades often (after five years) people keep using IE6. Also the fact that the upgrade to IE8 required at first a WGA check was not really promoting upgrading. And as a last issue due to the horrific html and css rendering of IE6 some pages does not look pretty in IE8. Therefore some companies won’t upgrade since they would break their intranet of other webapplications with an upgrade.