IE6-to-finally-die

Thanks to robotjoe.com

Ding dong the witch is dead?

As the results pour in from the W3 schools monthly report for the browser usage compiled across the Internet (yep, I’m a geek.) The results show that us web designer munchkins are dancing around the soon to be curled up toes of the ‘worlds favourite browser’ IE6.

For those of you that have not had the misfortune to troubleshoot some of IE6’s more quirky interpretations of CSS, then this does not really mean too much. Have a quick look at an entire sub culture of hatred surrounding IE6. This link to RIP IE6 will probably sum it up.

However, if you count yourself amongst some of the footsoldiers in the trench warfare of cross browser compatibility and have had to fix some of the common bugs (a good article that sums this up) and the not so common ones (the Peek-a-boo bug) then you, my friends deserve to cheer like a Victorian mob at a public hanging.

The W3C results indicate that the Internet Explorer users have dwindled down to only 26% of the Market share. This share has been in steady decline since 2005. Of that only 4.4% now use this legacy browser.

Is it Dead then?

With many major websites such as Youtube, Ebay and even Google (see google latest blog update Jan 29th) now dropping support for IE6 due to security, maintenance and development budget it will not be far off before the smaller companies run suit. There are still some companies that require IE6 for their software integration and a few die hards that are sat behind firewalls that are scared of downloading any type of upgrade. Wouldn’t it also be ironic if us web developers were the 4.4% of the last IE6 users, just simply testing websites?

Some developers have dropped support for IE6 altogether or now charge special “legacy browser” rates to create compatibility.

I for one will be glad to see the back of it.

Do you love IE6?

Now before the Internet Explorer 6 masochists pipe up and say the argument that has pretty much appeared on every single IE6 hatred blog out there, which runs along the lines of ‘If you prepared the ground for IE6 compatibility first, then there shouldn’t be too much fuss and bother.’ I would like to add the caveat that this is indeed best practice and with proper planning, knowledge and tried and tested means of creating a solid template, then most of these known issues will be incorporated in to the development.

What I refer to are the times when you, as a developer, get hired to sort out an existing website or fly into the realms of experimentation, only to be brought back to earth by rewriting or creating conditional stylesheets targeted  for IE6.

illustration thanks to robotjohnny.com

Now this argument is respectfully a valid one, as good web design should cater for the user foremost, but it is becoming increasingly irrelevant when the browser share has dipped so dramatically to spend additional development time to support a diminishing user base of IE6-ers.

As web designers we all like to experiment and try out innovation, it is easy to get carried away in the development browser only to find that it is completely blown apart by IE6 on testing. How painful has it been to shelve something or spend an hour on a conditional work around so that an IE6 user can use the site oblivious to the additional work and code taken to achieve the same result?

I’m sure this comes as some relief to know that IE6 is finally being voted away by the clicks of users who are migrating to another browser such as Chrome,Safari and Firefox et al. I guess the acceleration of browser upgrades and migration has occurred due to both windows 7 and last years court order against Microsoft by Opera that has forced Microsoft in to providing a “browser choice screen”.

Conclusion

IE6 looks to be finally leaving the web developers peripheral vision. I personally think this is a good thing, so that we as web designers can carry on and innovate, design and create valid, standards compliant websites in relative comfort. To the web designers of the IE6 era. I salute you!

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