It is no longer OK to use IE6. If I see it on your screen, I swear that I will hold you down and forcefully install IE8 on your machine. I’m not joking here. I may not be able to convince you to use Firefox, or Opera or some other real browser. But I can and will force you to upgrade your IE to the version that is for the most part, standards compliant.
There is no excuse for using an antiquated piece of crap like IE6 anymore. None! Unless you are a web developer, and you are required to support that browser, you really have no business keeping it on your machine. Your browser is two version behind now, it is non compliant, underpowered and it is missing a lot of crucial features that are standard in most modern browsers. You don’t have tabbed browsing, you do not have a search bar, you don’t have sessions, private browsing and etc… In other words, you are missing out on a lot of awesome new features.
Not only that – since your browser is an antique at this point, you are more vulnerable to infections, drive by downloads, cross site scripting and all the other dangers. Yes, Microsoft is still sort of patching that version every once in a while, but it’s two versions behind. All the critical patches are developed for the new releases of their browser these days and then eventually ported to IE6. How long will they continue supporting it? Not much longer. Soon you will be out on your own.
And don’t tell my you can’t upgrade because you are running Windows 2000. That just means you are not only two versions behind with your browser, but also your OS. I do realize that XP sucks, and Vista is atrocious, but you probably should upgrade at some point. If you hate the new Microsoft releases so much, perhaps you should give Apple a try. Or maybe Linux? There are alternatives out there. And even if you do want to keep running Win2k, you really don’t need to use IE6. Use Firefox, Opera, Safari or Chrome – they are all vastly superior browsers that will run on your machine.
Look at this from our point of view – how much longer do we need to support your inferior, horribly broken browser? Let me show you why we care. Let’s say I design something that looks like this in every modern browser (such as IE8, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome, etc..):
Here is how this same design look in Internet Explorer 6.0 on your computer:
Looks like crap, doesn’t it? That is how IE6 renders web pages. Now you haven’t seen this type of stuff happening because we have been spending many sleepless nights making sure our designs work in your browser. For every page we put together we have to create a separate IE6 style sheet. Barring that, we need to add bunch of custom tweaks and hacks to each style definition in order for it to work.
In the past, when IE6 was the default Windows browser and by extension the most popular browser on the internet this was just something we had to deal with. This was part of the job. But now, finally after many years of pain Microsoft has released a browser that doesn’t suck that much. We no longer have to do anything special to make sure our pages work in the latest and greatest MS browser. We no longer have to clock in extra hours making up crazy layout hacks to make things line up in every browser.
IE7 is now the default browser on all Windows Vista machines and it is a mandatory Upgrade for windows XP. IE8 is still an optional download, but pretty soon Microsoft will start pushing it to Vista and XP computers via their Automatic Upgrades program. This means, very soon most IE users on the planet will be running IE8. The only people stuck with IE6 are the people who consciously refuse to upgrade their browser, who run an outdated version of OS, and people whose IT departments blocked the upgrades.
You know what this means? This means we will eventually stop supporting your browser. We can all develop towards the same standard and have our pages render roughly the same in all the major modern rendering engines. How much longer will we support software that has been released 8 years ago and replaced by a newer version 3 years ago? Put yourself in our shoes. How long would you support such an ancient technology, if dropping the support would reduce your work load and improve your productivity by roughly 60%? Yes, we often spend more than half the development/testing time making sure our code works in the POS IE6. Do you really blame us for hating it? Do you blame us for wanting to drop support for it yesterday?
I tell you this – if you stick with IE6 for a while longer, one day you will wake up, and all your favorite pages will stop working. Facebook will be all out of alignment, and you won’t be able to update your status. Google maps wont work, and etc. That will be the day when we stop giving a flying fuck about IE6. Think about it.
This post was a public service announcement. I know that most of my regular readers use standards compliant browsers. In fact, according to my logs, most of visitors to use browsers other than IE. I’m just putting it here, so that I can link to it later when someone is whining about upgrading to IE8.
Also, I’ve been messing around with IE8 for a little while now to see how it performs and so far it has been working flawlessly on most pages I visit. Somehow the internet did not break overnight for me like Joel Spolsky was predicting. I can really say that IE8 is a vast improvement over IE7, and I’m thrilled that I will be able to stop giving a flying fuck about IE6 noncompliance pretty soon. We were right and Spolsky was being a troll when he was rambling about “Martian Headsets”.
I really didn’t think I will live to see the day when the web development field emerges from it’s dark age of chaos. But I think we are almost there. If things continue developing the way they are, making web pages in the next few years will become mostly painless. Hell, it may even be fun for the first time in years. I guess we should thank Mozilla Foundation – without Firefox capturing hearts and minds of millions of web users, Microsoft would never actually update IE, and Google probably would never get into the browser market.
Ironically, perhaps the death of Netscape and the subsequent formation of Mozilla Foundation was the best thing that could have happened to the browser market. It took us 6 years of stagnation and general malaise to get here, but now we once again have a highly competitive market with many very attractive and exciting products.