All posts tagged ‘IE6’

File Under: Browsers

For Most, Supporting Older Versions of IE Remains a Necessity

IE logos through the ages. Images: Microsoft.

Nothing gets a web developer’s hackles up quite like older versions of Internet Explorer. The web browser we all love to hate still manages to hang around after all these years — in the case of IE 6, the persistence is strong enough that even Microsoft has a website dedicated to getting rid of it.

While almost no one likes older versions of IE, most of us still need to support it to varying degrees. Mobile web expert Peter-Paul Koch recently ended an informal survey of web developers asking them which versions of IE they supported, tested in and whether or not they charged extra to support older versions of IE.

The results — from nearly 18,000 replies (1,150 for the least answered question) — are surprising in several ways, like the fact that 2 percent of web developers surveyed still support IE 5.5. That might not sound like many, but consider that IE 5.5 is nearly 13 years old (it was released with Windows ME in July 2000) and predates most of CSS 2, let alone CSS 3.

The overwhelmingly popular way to detect for older versions of IE is to use conditional comments, with 79 percent of developers reporting they use them.

Roughly two-thirds of developers surveyed are now charging extra for clients that require IE 6 support and 42 percent say they do the same for IE 7 support. Supporting IE 8 (which is admittedly not nearly as difficult as previous versions) remains just another part of being a web developer.

As Koch writes, “it’s clear that the market for IE6 information is collapsing, even though IE7 is still a going concern.” Be sure to check out Koch’s QuirksMode site for the full rundown on the survey.

File Under: Browsers

Microsoft Bids Farewell to IE 6 as U.S. Use Drops Below 1 Percent

IE 6 falls below 1 percent in the U.S. Delicious.

Microsoft is throwing itself a little party to celebrate the demise of Internet Explorer 6. Based on the latest data from Net Applications, the much-maligned browser recently fell below 1 percent in the United States, which prompted the IE Team to celebrate with a cake on IE 6′s grave, as it were.

Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer marketing, writes, “IE 6 has been the punch line of browser jokes for a while, and we’ve been as eager as anyone to see it go away.”

The U.S. joins Austria, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway in the less-than-1-percent category and several more nations are not far behind. Microsoft also recently announced that it would begin forcing IE updates for those that have opted into automatic Windows Updates, which should help further reduce the number of both IE 6 and IE 7 users.

Unfortunately for web developers the worldwide browser market share picture is not quite as bright. Internet Explorer 6 still has a considerable user base in China, where it tops 25 percent, and much of the rest of Asia hovers in the 5 percent range.

The other bad news is that despite the demise of IE 6, compensating for the shortcomings in both IE 7 and IE 8 remain necessary parts of a web developer’s job. And, given that Windows XP users will never be able to upgrade beyond IE 8, IE 8 will likely take IE 6′s place as the official pain in the ass of web developers everywhere.

Photo from the Windows Team Blog

File Under: Browsers

Microsoft’s New Automatic Update Plan Could Mean the End of IE 6

Microsoft has announced that starting in January 2012 Internet Explorer will, like Chrome, Firefox and Opera, no longer pester you with update notices. Instead Internet Explorer will automatically download and install updates in the background.

The new auto-update feature will only apply to users who’ve opted into the automatic updates through Windows Update. Those that have opted in will be upgraded to the latest version of IE available for their system. If you’re still on Windows XP that means you’ll be updated to IE 8. Vista and Windows 7 users will move to IE 9. The Windows Blog notes that when upgrading, your home page, search provider, and default browser settings will not be affected.

Internet Explorer updates have been offered through Windows Update previously, but unlike other “important” Windows updates, users needed to initiate the actual installation of IE updates via a dialog box. The only real change for most users in today’s announcement is that you’ll no longer need to mess with all those notification windows and dialogs. Instead IE will just seamlessly upgrade.

If you don’t want automatic updates, you can turn off Windows Update (though you should be aware that doing so could leave you with a insecure browser and operating system). Enterprise customers can opt out of the new auto-update mechanism using the IE 8 and IE 9 Automatic Update Blocker toolkits available from Microsoft.

The new auto-updating will ensure that users have the latest, most secure and stable version of IE, and web developers may be able to enjoy a fringe benefit as well — fewer IE 6 and IE 7 users on the web.

According to Microsoft IE 6 usage is currently at 8.4 percent worldwide, with some countries already under 1 percent while others, like China, remain high at 27.9 percent.

Microsoft has previously launched a campaign to kill off IE 6 and many large websites — like Google and WordPress — have already dropped support for the aging browser.

Web developers still supporting IE 6 may not need to do so much longer if Microsoft’s auto-update strategy pays off. Since the new auto-update mechanism will apply to IE 7 as well, it too may not need to be supported much longer. Of course, even in the best case scenario where IE 6 and 7 users drop below 5 percent worldwide, web developers would still need to contend with IE 8. While IE 8 was a huge step up from its predecessors, it still lacks support for most of the HTML5 and CSS 3 features found in modern web browsers.

Microsoft’s move to silent, automatic updates for Internet Explorer means that Apple’s Safari web browser is now the only browser that doesn’t default to automatically updating. Microsoft says that the auto-updating will roll out regionally, starting in January with users in Australia and Brazil and “scaling up over time.”

File Under: Blog Publishing, Browsers

WordPress Drops Support for IE 6

The popular blog publishing tool WordPress has joined the growing cadre of sites dropping support for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 web browser. The recently upgraded WordPress.com brings a handful of new features and a revamped, cleaner design in the admin pages, but perhaps the biggest news in the release is that the admin pages no longer support IE 6.

Users visiting the admin section of WordPress.com with IE 6 will now see a message to upgrade their browser (the same message will appear in the self-hosted WordPress 3.2 when it is released in June). The WordPress blog says it’s dropping IE 6 because, “it has required increasingly complex code trickery to make the WordPress dashboard work in the IE 6 browser, which was introduced 10 years ago and does not support current web standards.”

WordPress is just the latest in a long list of sites that have abandoned IE 6, including Gmail, YouTube, Basecamp and hundreds of others.

Indeed you’d be hard pressed to find a web developer who wants to keep supporting IE 6. Even Microsoft has set up a website that essentially dances on the grave of IE 6 (after WordPress announced it would drop IE 6, Microsoft actually said “thank you WordPress“).

However, according to Net Applications, IE 6 still has almost 12 percent user share worldwide. In the U.S. the number is just under 3 percent, but in China it’s still nearly 35 percent.

Compounding the problem are the number of corporate intranets that require IE 6. Microsoft is hard at work trying to convince large corporations to upgrade — if you’re still using IE 6, that means you haven’t upgraded to Windows 7, which is Microsoft’s real goal with the kill IE 6 campaign — but for Microsoft’s biggest customers, upgrading means investing millions of dollars in new infrastructure.

While developers may enjoy dropping IE 6 because of its subpar support for web standards, for end users that’s generally not a concern. What is, or at least should be, the bigger concern for users is that IE 6 is less secure.

If you’re part of the tiny segment of users that can — but haven’t — upgraded from IE 6, we suggest doing so. Grab a copy of Firefox or Chrome and join the modern web.

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File Under: Browsers

Microsoft Kicks Off Campaign to Kill Internet Explorer 6

Microsoft has launched a new campaign to rid the web of Internet Explorer 6. The company’s new IE6countdown website tracks IE6′s dwindling market share and encourages developers to paste a code snippet into their websites, telling any IE6 users to upgrade.

According to Net Applications, IE6 still has a 12 percent user share worldwide. In the U.S. the number is just under 3 percent, but in China it’s still almost 35 percent. That means millions of people are using a browser that’s older than Gmail, Ubuntu, Borat and even The Euro.

You’d be hard pressed to find a web developer that doesn’t want to get rid of IE6. In fact, many websites — including, for example, Google — long ago stopped supporting IE6, but having IE6′s creator jump on the “let’s get rid of IE6″ bandwagon is encouraging.

The problem is that some users have no choice but to stick with IE6. There are still some sites on the web that require IE6 and even more in private intranets. Telling users who need IE6 to access these sites to upgrade isn’t going to solve the problem. The problem is with the websites, not the users. The IE6countadown site has a section devoted to IT staff and corporate users looking to upgrade, but there’s little the company can do for those with sites built only for IE6.

The other problem with Microsoft’s upgrade campaign is that it directs users to install Internet Explorer 8 — already two years old and soon to be replaced by IE9. Why not hold the campaign until IE9 is here and users can upgrade to an even better browser?

Simple — IE9 won’t be available on Windows XP. And if you’re using IE6 you’re on Windows XP (or something even older). It’s a depressing thought, but if you’re still using Windows XP, IE8 is as good as it will ever get unless you switch to a different web browser.

If you’d like to join in Microsoft’s campaign, the company has put together a cut-and-paste code snippet that will display a banner telling IE6 users to upgrade. The graphic isn’t the prettiest thing around, and you’ll want to add some actual text to the alt tag. But the big change we suggest making is to the link — point your users to a more modern browser, say Firefox or Chrome, rather than the IE8 upgrade page. That way people can enjoy the modern web, but still keep IE6 around for those times they need it.

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