Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6

This proposal might seem a bit drastic, but please allow me to present my case.

Where we are today

This year, it is eight years since Internet Explorer 6 was released. A couple of years later, the three main competing web browsers had all reached a very competent state when it came to especially CSS and JavaScript support, and started challenging Internet Explorer. Since then, all web browser have released newer and better versions.

Why IE 6 is a problem

When IE 6 came out, it was in a fairly competent state compared to the other options in the market. Back then, the most common way to build web sites was mainly with table layouts and using CSS for pretty basic styling tasks, such as font colors, the odd :hover effect and some absolute positioning.

Web Developers then gradually moved on to embrace the concept of a semantic web, separation of content (HTML), presentation (CSS) and interaction (JavaScript), and web standards started its journey to becoming the lingua franca of more aware interface Developers.

The result of this evolvement was that more and more developers started finding shortcomings and outright flaws in Internet Explorer 6, especially when trying to create more modern CSS-based web page layouts. Projects like the immensely helpful Explorer Exposed! and the explanation in On having layout – the concept of haslayout surfaced, and people started dissecting Internet Explorer to figure out its inner workings.

Microsoft in turn had gotten such a vast majority of the web browser market, and therefore development work and improvements hadn’t been added for quite some time. This, together with it becoming more evident that Internet Explorer didn’t deliver a sufficient platform to build web sites on, and also other web browser vendors started taking more market share, resulted in Microsoft commencing work on a new version and announcing Internet Explorer 7 in February 2005.

The role and responsibility of a Web Developer

I’ve been working as a Web Developer since 1999, and all the time web interfaces have been my specialty and main interest. To me, one of the most important parts of a Web Developer is to deliver the best user experience to end users, while delivering it for the most reasonable and justifiable cost for your employer/customer.

It is our responsibility to follow guidelines, web standards and best practices; to inform the people who give us our assignments about what will give them, and subsequently their users/customers, the best result. It is also about Return On Investment, if we want web developing to be a serious business trade.

Stop developing for IE 6

For quite some time, I have evaluated the extra time I spend making a web site work in Internet Explorer 6. The time, planning and unforeseeable problems delivering full support takes. CSS frameworks and JavaScript libraries do their best in trying to cut down on that time, but there’s still much more that every Interface Developer have to take into account to make their project offer a successful user experience in IE 6.

My estimate is, from looking at my own work and analyzing the results of other Web Developers I currently or previously have worked with, or friends I know in the business, we spend about an extra, on average, 20% of development time to cater to Internet Explorer 6. This means that for every $ 1 000 000 spent in the world on developing a web site interface, it could have cost $ 800 000 instead.

In my mind, I believe that we Web Developers as well as our customers have spent far too much valuable time and money on fixing something in an eight-year old product; in what other category does such old consumer software still get support?

I am very well aware that Internet Explorer 6 still has somewhere between 20 – 34% of the web browser market, but we’re not talking about an accessibility issue or the need for supporting a minority, we’re talking about a product that virtually loses users every minute that goes by.

This is what Microsoft wants!

This is not an anti-Microsoft tirade, what I’m describing is exactly what Microsoft wants as well. When they started developing Internet Explorer 7, they turned to the Web Developer community to get support, and they used the test cases in above-described help projects to do their best to ensure that the failings in Internet Explorer 6 was going to be, as soon as possible, a part of the past.

When Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7, they pushed it out as a recommended security update! That alone tells you how eager they were to get Internet Explorer 6 off the market, and offer end users a more secure Internet experience. They are now on the verge of releasing version 8 of Internet Explorer, bringing us two complete version upgrades from the web browser released in 2001.

What needs to happen

Web Developers are responsible for bringing this information to their customers. To let them know that instead of spending money on a web browser soon to become extinct, they could have their project delivered in a shorter time, for lesser money with a better result. Tell me which customer wouldn’t say yes to that.

Be as polite and respectful to your end users as possible. Inform them that Internet Explorer 6 will no longer be supported due to non-justifiable costs and a strongly declining user base. Give them detailed instructions and links how to upgrade to a later version of Internet Explorer or any other web browser, and present them with screenshots and step-by-step guides accompanying them through an upgrade.

Send CD-ROMs out to people with a slow connection who find the file size of a new web browser download to be too large, set up support for those needing that little extra help and guiding. And, trust me, in the end this will still cost you substantially less, both with new development and maintenance of old outdated code.

Additionally, I sincerely feel that Microsoft should take action with this. Let them combine their official release of Internet Explorer 8 with a statement that that release spells the end of any support for Internet Explorer 6, and that an upgrade to a later version is mandatory to fully use and browse the Internet.

One of the main problems and reasons Internet Explorer 6 still lives is due to Intranet web sites built on non-standardized code that still linger around, and they are afraid of updating since it might break existing functionality. The only reasonable way forward is to offer those customers the possibility to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer on their computers: one version 6 for their Intranet, and one version 7 or 8 for browsing the web.

While Microsoft states that it’s impossible or strongly not recommended to run multiple versions of Internet Explorer, TredoSoft have with their Multiple IE project proven that it is achievable for most people, and it has also become the de facto way for Interface Developers to test web sites in different versions of Internet Explorer. If Microsoft were to release a tool themselves to do just this, I’m convinced many many companies would dare taking the plunge and do an upgrade.

Are you with me?

Conclusively, let me ask: are you ready to bring the web forward, instead of holding it back? Are you ready to save money for your clients, and deliver smoother, better and more stable web sites? Do you want to take part in shaping the future web?

And, finally, are you ready to admit that just about everyone deserves this?

Posted in CSS,Developing,Technology,Web browsers |

141 Comments

  • icaaq says:

    hallelujah I'm with ya. I'm all in for developing new exiting stuff instead of compromising for old browsers, and that's what I'm trying to convince my clients as well!!!

  • Jakob says:

    I sat down in a meeting with a large customer last friday and told them the exact same percentage, 20% goes into making this work in IE6. Our customer got very surprised and it really got them thinking.

    It'll be very interesting to see if our customers will continue to demand IE6 support with this argument.

    Upp till kamp!

  • Andreas says:

    I stopped looking in IE6 years ago for personal projects but at work there's no way they'd let me get away with it, not yet anyway.

  • Georg says:

    Your reasoning and numbers are good enough, but apart from from being allowed to give IE6 some "disgraceful degradation" treatment I still have to make it work.

    I'm already letting IE7 slip a bit since, IMO, it is almost as weak and buggy as its predecessor. Can't let it slip too far though.

    The road to our wonderful CSS 3 future has a few potholes… :-(

  • David says:

    I agree 100% but don't see this happening any time soon. The main issue is that customers will go but visitor numbers. They will see how many IE 6 users there are and will make a decision based off of this.

    I would rather not deal with IE 6 but it is a reality in the corporate world.

  • Lea Verou says:

    As a web developer/designer, I strongly agree with you. However, if I try to think as a client, the thought that goes through my mind is "So, 25% more money for 25%-30% more visitors? Sounds fair." :-/

  • Tino Zijdel says:

    Can't we include IE7 with that please? Still too many pains in the DOM-area… IE8 looks much better in that respect though.

    But yes, I'm with you. I have been strongly pushing in our company to get IE6 on the B-status list with result (but then IE6 share among our visitors has already dropped below 8% and is still rapidly declining).

    The problem with intranet applications is that those applications are as old as IE6, but companies are just not willing to pay the price to upgrade those apps. They have fallen into the lock-in trap and the hype to make applications 'web-enabled' (not knowing that in those times it actually meant 'IE-enabled') and are now facing the fact that the (IE) browser-platform is now actually moving fast towards standards compliance after a long-term stand-still.

    It is that long time between IE6 and IE7 that have made companies feel comfortable with their chosen platform, but they should realize by now that that was an exception (and a mistake on Microsofts' part). When you consider a browser platform as a platform for applications you should now be aware of the fast changeing nature of that platform and be able to keep up with that. I'm not very much looking forward having to support IE7 for many years to come wereas I can now already easily drop Firefox 2.x support.

  • I am with you 90%, 'cause in my opinion Microsoft staff could only be proud of theirself thinking something like: you see? Everybody is complaining about IE6 but our browser dated 2000 is still compatible with every website!

    Now, don't get me wrong, I think support should stop for IE7 as well and as soon as possible, but customers, big companies, banks, whoever is using windows and is convinced that internet is that blue E, will never update their software and trust me, there are thousands of enterprise software developed, tested, and compatible, ONLY or mainly with version 6 of IE.

    We have to face the reality, even with Ajax era, CSS transitions effects, position fixed, libraries about everything, we had always to find a "not that bad" way to behave with IE6 as well.

    png fixes, canvas, performances, libraries, EVERYTHING is mainly based on IE6 compatibility and slowly upgraded because of this browser.

    For M$ is simple: do you want a better web experience? Silverlight is our answer, and it works with IE6 as well!

    So who fault is it: people still trusting MS old browser since it is 99% "reliable" while thay are surfing the web? Or all of us spending unpaid money, most of the time impossible to explain for non-technical customers/managers because of the incompatibility list which grows up every single day, to make every website still usable with this jurassic monster loads of security problems and web-standards bugs?

    The worst case scenario is when we have problems impossible to solve, as IE6 memory leaks could be, as example, but they are complaining about slow performances after 5 hours of single session in the same Web 2.0 "IE6 Adapted Version" page.

    Developers needs development demand, people ignorance about web browsers is justified by the fact they simply wants to "surf the web" … why should they download something with different icons, even if functionalities are the same, and feel disoriented, since their "good old" blue E was working "perfectly"?

    Why should they care about credit cards hacks problems since they cannot even spot them while they are surfing whatever site?

    And finally, this post is for us, developers, designers, whatever interested into web development … who uses IE6 is everything but interested in this post (they do not even know every developer is praying for the day this browser will be declared obsolet as was for IE5 for Mac!)

    Anyway, good stuff Robert, I hope you got my points ;-)

  • Paul Irish says:

    Huge agreement. If we, as developers, don't begin to stop supporting ie6, users and IT departments will be content to keep a horrible browser.

    At work, I've been trying to advocate that supporting IE6 in the same fashion as everything else isn't realistic, but that remains a hard sell.

  • I completely agree with you Robert. What worries me is that mobile phones are starting to ship with IE 6 installed on them. It's like a bad nightmare that we can never get away from. My sites will always look better in modern browsers. IE 6 needs a killswitch.

  • sha says:

    I’m completely agree with you

    If we begin to stop supporting ie6, users and IT departments have to use other browsers like firefox , …

  • Douglas Karr says:

    I would love to be with you but we still have corporate enterprises who have their entire companies (several thousand employees) still on IE6. It's quite possibly the most frustrating CSS design I've ever had to do!

  • joolss says:

    As some have commented, IE6 still lives because a lot of old intranets/business apps/CM-systems still rely on IE6. For the web developers and the clients (and to some extent the end user) it's a bad investment to try to make a site look exactly the same in IE6 as in Firefox.

    But a business app vendor, it's excellent if their old app from 2002 can run without being upgraded. And it probably was a lot cheaper building the app without bothering about web standards (MOSS, I'm looking att you…)

    Anyway, in the end, I think an IE-only web app/site/CMS is and always has been a bad investment. Using web standards gives you more maintainable code that is more future-proof = less costs.

    I think we web developers should talk our clients out of using IE-optimized CMSes and such. Several will hopefully have to make a change when XP usage drops and IE7 becomes the norm.

  • Ole says:

    Like many other post i agree with you with a "BUT". In private projects i will not support IE6 anymore, BUT if i work for customers i can't ignore IE6. In germany there are other browser-statistics. It goes from 35-45% IE6 Users, and the log files of some customers are even more despairing – up to 60%!!

    So we don't have really good arguments…customers are kings, they pay the money.

    So the only thing we can do is try to convince the customers with the good arguments you brought… Maybe it helps.

  • Ingo Chao says:

    I'm with Georg: "Disgraceful Degradation" – and Functional Hacking, I'd like to add. The site has to work in IE, but that is all. Pure Presentational Hacking is becoming obsolete.

    Don't forget your co-workers, you'd have to convince them too. Supporting IE6 is a paradigma that will be replaced very, very slowly.

  • Personally, I think IE6 is still with us mainly because large companies have 3-to-5-year policies in their computer farms. That makes the oldest ones part of 2004, long before IE7 was released.

    I also believe most home users, in Sweden at least, still buy "hem-PC" products; a new computer in a 3-year cycle. That makes the eldest computers a part of 2005-2006, also in the IE6 era.

    I became very frustrated when Microsoft decided to drop IE7 from Service Pack 3 of XP. Really bad decision.

    Me myself, I've started to warm up my customers by arguing like Andy Clarke. I slowly make them realise that the pixel perfect interface is a myth. I focus on putting details in the design as a progressive enhancement, leaving IE6 and sometimes even Firefox 3 gracefully degraded.

    It is important to educate our clients about the true web interface, using prototypes with interaction enabled instead of static Photoshop views.

  • Chris says:

    Full Ack, Robert. In private projects I don't support IE6 for years (or if I do it's just by chance).

    But at work it's different. Most of our customers have huge IT departments who fear software upgrades for 10k+ clients (understandable) and therefore stick to IE6 (unforgivable!).

    There's no way for me to talk this customor out internet explorer – even if only 3% of the site's visitors use IE6 – the customer uses it and wants to see it working. My customer has nothing to do with IT and the IT guys would just show me the finger if I tell them to upgrade (apart from the fact that the head of IT usually sits in the US and don't give a F on what Germans say).

    Sad, sad, sad.

  • Who better to educate end users, it departments and customers on WHY they need to switch away from Internet Explorer 6 than us?

    If you start spreading the word that 20% of all UI costs get's dumped into supporting a rapidly diminishing group of users (what percentage will IE6 have a year from now?), then clients will be able to make educated choices, instead of just defaulting to a safe position out of ignorance.

    What the world needs, is not another let's-kill-IE6-site, but more advocates giving the right messages to the right people… like a global enlightenment campaign :-)

  • Finally! There are many reasons to agree with the author of this article. Is the end user really suffering from this lack of development? Not at all! We help them. If they upgrade/switch browsers, which they sooner or later will have to, they will have an enhanced experience of other sites as well.

    There are many other reasons as well!

    No more IE6 :)

  • OkkE says:

    I would love to stop IE6 support, and for personal project I have already dropped support.

    The problem I see at work is, there still are a lot of clients who use IE6 themself (for whatever reason). Try explaining to them why the design doesn't look 100% the same "on their computer".

    I do however, spend as little time as possible on fixing/hacking for IE6.

  • Jarvklo says:

    I'd love to stop developing for MSIE6 and I'm with you 100% on the basic idea that we all deserve this – and in an ideal world this would be doable right here and right now …

    … but in reality (for the time being) if I refused to develop for IE6 I'd turn large clients with MSIE6 lock-in policies away to competitors who will – and that is not an option for me nor for my employer.

  • SO with you.

    Actually we have stopped testing on IE6 and only doing it in IE7. I do believe is the only way to keep moving, people are way too lazy to change if there is no real "need" for it.

  • Mike Cornell says:

    No one likes IE6, let alone IE7.

    However, one might change turn the question on its head and ask, why is IE6 still relevant?

    I firmly believe that the reason IE6 is still relevant is due to businesses having large software packages that require its use. Take for example SAP’s Enterprise Portal. Lots of big companies use this beast and, low and behold, it only recently began to support IE 7.

    Here’s some information on SAP’s Portal 04 release (PDF). Granted this is not the most recent version of SAP’s portal software, but most enterprises do not stay on the most recent version, nor do they upgrade regularly due to the immense costs in recertifying their mission critical business processes. It’s just too damn risky. Anywho, check out the last page in the document. Notice that only since SPS 23 has IE 7 been supported on all facets of the application. Notice Firefox 2 isn’t supported and 1.5 is the one which is getting the attention. 1.5! Who is still using 1.5!?

    Now this could be remedied by upgrading to SPS 23, but most companies aren’t going to bring in the consulting help and go through all of that. They’re going to stick with whatever they have because the upgrade is damn expensive and just not worth the risk. Especially since IE6 seems to be working just fine.

    And here’s the clincher. If you want SAP’s support, and you’re not running on a supported browser, SAP will not support you. If you’re a CIO/CTO and you’ve got mission critical processes down and service is being denied because you’re using IE7…well, you’re going to be unemployed. So pushing out an upgrade to IE7 isn’t going to happen.

    Long story short, the problem is larger than what it seems. Who knows what Oracle, PeopleSoft, etc require for support.

    You’ve got to decide if you can eliminate the 25-30% of users who come into the site using IE6. Understanding why that number isn’t dropping as fast as you’d like it to will assist you with that choice.

  • Matt Robin says:

    I've already, officially stopped supporting it….see my recent blog post 'Myth: Web Design Perfection'

    IE6 has had its time and now, we move on ;)

  • If we all could form a virtual strike against MS to force them to implement full CSS 3 in IE8.

    I'm up for your idea, but what I've learned from my short life is that "the customer is always wrong", thus hard to convince. 25% of the customers is a large piece of pie.

  • […] Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 – Robert’s talk – Web development and Internet trends (tags: webdesign microsoft standards browser ie6) […]

  • Gregor says:

    I'm absolutely with ya!

    And I can confirm the 20% of additional time invested to make websites work in IE6, too. That's exactly what we are tracking for our html slicing service.

    We are thinking about dropping the support for IE6 by default and adding IE6 support as an option, which takes 20% extra. This would be our contribution to make people aware of the problem.

    There is another point I want to add: you can be sure that the time to make your websites work in IE6 will increase! Why? Because the websites out there use more and more advanced CSS and JS features, and it will take more and more effort to make these work in IE6, too.

    I just had to make a client website work for IE5 (… dont ask …). I remember times when it also took about 20% extra time to make things work in IE5 and IE5.5, but now it takes 100% extra time. This is not a joke. The same will happen to IE6, too. Just wait for the first JS libraries dropping supprt for it …

  • For legacy systems … if buyers of these systems insist on standards compliance and interoperability, then changing browsers in the Enterprise is a easy as just allowing IE7 to slip in via Windows Update.

    So perhaps that is one important message to get out to decision makers, that they are themselves responsible for keep getting slapped with enormous upgrade costs…

  • Richard Fink says:

    Microsoft publishes a schedule showing when they will stop support for any one of their products.

    The link isn't handy but if memory serves me correctly, IE6 is slated for abandonment in Spring of 2010.

    Other than that, I have nothing to say except go ahead and drop support for IE6 if you want to. What does that have to do with me and what I do?

    You run a forward-looking Web technology blog, IE6 is probably irrelevant. But if I'm selling discount tennis shoes, it's extremely relevant. The idea that I should deliver a lesser experience to a substantial number of potential customers in deference to some odd notion of "the greater good" is preposterous.

  • Steven Clark says:

    After reading Andy Clark's transcendent CSS book over christmas I've started treating IE, in most cases anyway, as a different beast. The struggle is really getting the client / project managers to drop the insistence for pixel precision on major browsers (equals IE in their view). Once you get their white knuckles pried off pixel perfection there seems to be a better acceptance that we can improve things.

    It's a hard one though, we can lead the horse to water but there can be a stubborness that is quite resilient in some teams.

    Provide IE6 a working base case and then ignore it's sorry self, is my current philosophy. Turns out to be faster, too. I'm not sure I'll totally ignore it though, that could be dangerous as 25% of web users is still a lot of traffic. And it depends a little on the site.

    I get the confident feeling though that IE6 is being wheedled away more and more every month. It's a matter of time before we laugh like when someone says they use NN4… :)

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for a lot of insightful and thoughtworthy comments!

    Please allow me to address the fact with old intranet and other code specifically built for IE 6. I completely acknowledge that problem, but as I suggest in the article, Microsoft should offer the possibility for those companies to run IE 6 for their internal applications, and side-by-side with a newer version of Internet Explorer for everything else.

    The argument that for 25% more money you reach 25% more users is a very valid business argument today, but it will continue to cost 25% more, while it will match a smaller and smaller user base. I.e. it's a very short-term investment.

    With the argument for small business that they will miss out a lot of potential buyers, the arguments in the article isn't about some abstract greater good, it's about saving money for those businesses, instead of wasting them on a certain product that will have fewer users for each and every day that goes by.

  • Louis says:

    It is true that IE6 wastes a lot of a developer's time, but after developing a number of websites, that time should eventually be drastically decreased.

    I currently spend almost no time at all "fixing" sites for IE6, because I know how to code CSS that agrees with it. Usually, now, I don't even bother looking at the site in IE6 until I'm finished the project. Then I just throw in a few hacks and it's done.

    I don't see why anyone with considerable CSS experience would have to spend 20% of their time on IE6. For me it's maybe 5% and usually less.

  • I work on front end development for an advertising agency and we are starting to abandon Internet Explorer 6. When I say I could spend another 2 hours making this website work with the 20% that use IE6, my supervisors tell me not to, and I reply with a tear of joy in my eye.

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  • BARTdG says:

    If MS adds the possibility to run several IE versions side by side, our problems will be over any time soon.

    However, if they don't, many companies will stick to IE6 for their intranets, knowledge bases, etc. In that case, I predict, IE7 is going to disappear earlier than IE6.

    Anyone who can upgrade from IE6 to IE7 can also upgrade to IE8. Anyone who is still using IE6 is either someone with a really old computer, or a company that cannot upgrade for the reasons described above.

    So, many of us are going tot have to make sure that their sites and webapps work in IE6, but I hope they will also stop investing too much time to make it look fancy in IE6.

    As soon as IE8 is released, start dropping IE7 support in the same way, because IE7 will soon disappear (I hope).

  • dusoft says:

    Great and very true tirade, Robert!

  • Bernd says:

    Yes, you are speaking out of my heart. But kicking IE6 users will be not that easy. On my next bigger project, I will try to actively advertise for leaving IE completely in favour of Firefox or Safari: "Using IE means looking at the web through a dirty window."

    IE 6 really sucks. But IE 7 and 8 still provide difficulties: No SVG, bad support of JavaScript standards (e.g. editable related stuff), no MathML, bad performance, bad support of CSS3 in IE8, HTML5 could be done better, bad security, charset-bugs, "ghost-bugs", only a Windows version, parallel installation of different versions not supported by default, caching bady realized … just to name a few reasons to convince other people of not using IE.

  • Internet Explorer…

    Five of the best sites about the Internet Explorer Web browser. Know of another site that should be listed here? Leave your suggestion at the bottom of this page. (Related searches: Internet Explorer 7, Flock, Windows)
    1. Internet Explorer Home Page – …

  • Jan Vantomme says:

    Thanks for the article Robert. I enjoyed reading it.

    I stopped developing for IE6 a while ago. I currently design for IE7 and the sites I make now might still work in IE6 but they won't look as pixel-perfect as in IE7. With IE8 coming up, this is the only plausible way to design and develop websites.

  • John Faulds says:

    I haven't dropped IE6 but I have been using Dean Edwards' IE7.js (IE8.js actually) to bring IE6 up to speed with more modern browsers quite a bit lately. I don't often spend too much extra time to get things right in IE6, so using js just helps me produce cleaner markup. So if you're using IE6 with js turned off you might be get a slightly degraded experience, but for most, hopefully they'll be getting the same.

  • Johan says:

    A lot of organisations are still using Windows 2000 on most of their client computers. Many of these use web applications that requires IE. I'm certain the IE6 share would be significantly smaller if IE7 and 8 could be installed on older Windows versions – especially Windows 2000…

  • RobertDM says:

    I agree with Roger Johansson on this: I make sure sites keep on functioning properly and don't turn out as a complete mess in IE6, but I'm no longer bothered with achieving pixel perfection in IE6.

  • yoom says:

    IE6 coverage in China is relatively large, than you should be much higher. The biggest reason is that flying the browser (Maxthon), install it, many users simply do not care your browser's version number.

    Until now, there are many forums such as Ask IE6 png, double float margin issues and so on.

    I do not want to debug the page under IE6, but must do so. Because there are many people like to use IE6, in China.

    ) -:

    My English is not good, this is what I have been using Google Translate.

  • […] Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 – I couldn#039;t agree more. I stopped checking all of my site in IE 6 years ago. I#039;m not a web developer by profession so I don#039;t need to keep everyone happy. If you#039;re running old and backward software, that#039;s your problem, not mine. […]

  • You know what? When there is a security problem in a version of whatever language (OK, PHP as example) hosts simply send emails informing that in N days they will upgrade to the next release which fixes the security problem and if our application is not ready for the upgrade, it does not matter, we have to update our code.

    Software has to be updated, there are no excuses at all, so why on earth our users cannot simply update as we all do on daily basis?

    YOUR BROWSER IS NOT SECURE, UPDATE FOR FREE

    I would like to see only above message for every IE6 user. Endless war, the next one will be in 5 years for IE7 …

  • […] other day I came across an interesting article “Stop Developing for Internet Explorer 6” .  My initial thought was great I finally can stop developing for IE 6. Of course, that was […]

  • Richard Fink says:

    To follow up…

    Telling a customer that they have to change THEIR habits, upgrade THEIR software, in order to buy from you is always, always, a defeating proposition. Any barrier you put up, no matter how small, has repercussions.

    If the time and money spent on accomodating IE6 users (remember, nobody accomodates a browser, you are accomodating the CUSTOMER using it) is lower than the income expected to be lost – even if only temporarily – by not doing so, then you accomodate IE6. If else, you don't. Very simple – and leave to each his/her own calculation without looking to make it a movement or a crusade.

    Most Internet users are not like anybody who reads this blog. Why do you think IE6 still has 20+% of the market?

    These folks don't think it's all that important in their lives. They are not poor saps, they are your uncles and aunts, brothers, fathers, and mothers. They'll be upgraded when they buy a Vista or Windows 7 machine or when the company they work for finally makes the move.

    Is it just me, or does anybody else think it's arrogant to tell these folks to take a hike?

  • kate bp says:

    Love love love the idea, but unfortunately during the writing of my blog response to your blog I discovered that the major supporters of IE6 are big corporates (that's why IE6's market share plummets on the weekend).

    As our clients are all corporates (amazingly 100% of them still use IE6 – and these are all FTSE 100-250), they won't believe the spacing is pixel perfect unless they can see it themselves.

    So, until the big boys shake their IT departments up a bit, IE6 is going to have to remain our default browser. Curses!

  • Brian G says:

    I wrote something similar on my site last year titled "To Hell with IE 6".

    It's time that IE 6 went the way of Netscape 4.7.

  • we need some concrete support from bigs, starting from Microsoft and Google. If both will decide to end support for IE6, in a couple of months stats will be from 20 to 1% … am I wrong?

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for your comments! Very interesting to hear about your situations and the choices you make!

    yoom,

    Thank you for the information!

    Richard,

    If you have perceived this article to tell users to take a hike, you have definitely misunderstood it. What I'm arguing about is helping them out, through guides, screenshots and personal support, and explain for them why they will benefit from it.

    Giving users a better and more secure experience, not just for your web site but any out there, while at the same time being able to offer them your products for a lower price is at least not the definition of arrogance in my book.

    kate bp,

    That sounds very disheartening. But as I suggest in my article, if Microsoft were to officially offer the possibility to run multiple versions side-by-side, this would not be a problem anymore.

    Andrea,

    Absolutely! That is also what I'm calling for here, for the major players to take this step which everyone will gain from.

  • James says:

    All very nice blue skies thinking. However my main corporate site (about 20,000 unique visitors/month) recorded 39% IE6-ers last month… I'll be stuck with it for a long time to come.

    James

  • Tommy says:

    I wish I could drop IE6 for all my projects, but I guess that some projects still needs support for IE6. Still, 100% pixel perfect on IE6 I have given up a long time ago.

    I have seen the statistics for IE6 drop and drop the last year, so my prediction would be that IE6 is out of my mind by the end of this year.

  • I am with you 100% – as a matter of fact, just today we came up with a new standard called "Good 'nuff for IE6". Excellent article.

  • […] admin on Feb.13, 2009, under Webdesign The other day Robert Nyman asked web developers to Stop Developing For Internet Explorer 6. I fully agree with what he’s saying about making a site work and look perfectly in IE 6 eating […]

  • kate bp says:

    @Andrea, Google have already dropped IE6 support for Gmail (it's listing IE6 as an "unsupported Gmail browser") so it looks like the revolution is starting!

    http://www.tgdaily.com/html_tmp/content-view-4078

    Will be good to see who else follows this move.

  • […] a lot of bloggers have started venting their frustration on IE6 – Robert Nyman got the ball rollling, Roger Johannson enforced the argument and now Ara Pehlivanian chimes in. The general consensus is […]

  • […] to Robert for pushing me to write […]

  • […] of conversation about IE6 holding everything back (Christian, Robert, et al), which is something that people have been talking about for ages (me last year, me in 2005, […]

  • […] found a “less emotional” validation for quitting […]

  • […] Beim IE6 gilt für mich: weniger als gedacht, mehr als erhofft. Es wird Zeit, dass der Internet Explorer 6 endlich seine verdiente Ruhe findet. Siehe dazu auch: http://www.robertnyman.com/2009/02/09/stop-developing-for-internet-explorer-6/ […]

  • Anyone in the front-end business is going to agree with you wholeheartedly, however I see some problems with your math. You mention:

    "we spend about an extra, on average, 20% of development time to cater to Internet Explorer 6."

    And that:

    "I am very well aware that Internet Explorer 6 still has somewhere between 20 – 34% of the web browser market,"

    Do you really think any serious business isn't going to spend 20% more to not alienate up to 1/3 of their audience?

  • Paul Carvill says:

    I think you're missing the point of working on the web if you want to start arbitrarily dropping support for browser's because you think they're out of date, or you just don't like them for whatever reason.

    Microsoft still support IE6 as a component of Windows XP Service Pack 3, and will continue to do so for 2 years after the next service pack is released, or at the end of the Windows XP product lifecycle, whichever comes first.

    As web developers we need to take a closer look at the complexity pages we're building. Notice that the content of our sites rarely fails, it's what we're trying to do with it that breaks some browsers: styling it to within an inch of its life, trying to jazz it up with unnecessary JavaScript.

    Think about it this way – if your page doesn't work in IE6, how bad is it going to look and behave in any random mobile browser (India is currently selling around 45 million web enabled phones a month). Or one of those weird internet kiosks. Have you been to an internet cafe in Morocco? Trust me, your fancy page will take an age to load and probably won't work properly, and you'll kick yourself for it.

    We need to remind ourselves about device independence and get sensible with the pages we're making. But also let's not kid ourselves that we have much say in the matter – it's strictly a business decision, and most business will look at the 25% market share of IE6 and say 'let's just keep on keeping on, thanks guys'.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for commenting!

    cancel bubble,

    If you read my article, I'm not talking about alienating, I'm talking about helping and supporting them to get a better web browsing experience.

    Paul,

    I somewhat agree with your point in what we're trying to do with web sites. The big difference, however, between working on a mobile or in a IE 6 is how things are implemented. I'm not arguing against things working in as many devices as possible, on the contrary.

    Web sites should work perfectly well without CSS and/or JavaScript, and the ideas of progressive enhancement are very important to follow.

    The problem with IE 6 is that it claims to support a number of technologies, but consistently fails to do so. Try to create a simple column and use <code>float</code> in CSS, which is the best approach we have. More often than not, you'll experience disappearing content or display bugs. Meaning, there's nothing to rely on as a web developer to offer a proper fallback, as opposed to, for instance, less-capable mobile phone web browsers.

    In the end it is absolutely about business, but what I'm proposing is that we can affect business about the extra costs they will have to take. I'm also pleading for Microsoft to take their responsibility and end IE 6 support in conjunction with the release of IE 8.

  • Sometimes it is not possible to dispense entirely with IE6, but again it is not so difficult to run the product under IE6. As long as IE6's market share will be at the level of say 15%, as long as you pay into it to do anything.

    On the other hand, customers awareness of the technological progress is a good move. While here again the fact that they do not update often lack is not due to the reluctance of the user, the absence of a decision by executives.

  • Luis Rizo says:

    Couldn't agree more! Well put, well written, well done!

  • Trygve Lie says:

    Yesterday the norwegian website finn.no published an recommendation on there frontpage visible only for IE6 users recommending IE6 users to upgrade or change their browser. They did also recomment other high traffic websites to follow so IE6 can be put to an final death soon. Today the largest (highest trafficated) website in Norway, vg.no, did follow with the same recommendation.

    A little bit more in my blogpost about the IE6 upgrade recommendation.

  • […] dock utan nÃ¥gon regelrätt revolt, där flera tunga namn inom den svenska webbvärlden, sÃ¥som Robert Nyman, Roger Johansson och Emil Stenström öppet deklarerat att tiden för perfekta IE 6 hemsidor är […]

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Cezary,

    Yes, it's about educating as well, and to try and make people more informed.

    Luiz,

    Thanks!

    Trygve,

    Sounds fantastic! Go Norway!

  • I dont even have a copy of IE6 available to test with. And I only recently acquired a PC to test Windows browsers with (The copy of XP has IE 7 on it) so I'm glad to see that the campaign to abandon IE6 is in full swing. I'll have to put up a message for IE6 when I get a chance. I designed my layout myself and it works in everything I've tested it in. I just have no idea about IE6. (For all I know, it might actually work fine.)

  • […] Robert’s article here. :browsers, ie6, internet explorer, layout No comments for this entry […]

  • HB says:

    Excellent post! I think one of the major reasons developers are afraid to stop supporting IE6 is faulty access logs… So many bots use a fake IE6 user agent (to avoid being sniffed as bots), and that skews surveys so that developers think their sites are getting a 30% IE6 contingent.

    I looked up IPs for all IE6 (IE6 only) visitors over the course of 3 or 4 months, and all but ONE was a guaranteed bot. That one may have also been a bot, just not a known bot. I think if others did the same study they'd find similar results and we would see more realistic numbers like 0% – 5% IE6 usage… And then devs would be more willing to join the light side ;)

  • Tobbe says:

    This sure was a good read. It'll be very interesting to see what happens with MSIE 6 here in Sweden and Norway now when sites like Finn, VG and Aftonbladet.se urges their visitors to upgrade. It'll take some time for the percentage of users to drop I'm sure, but it feels like we're finally starting to move on. I decided to drop pixel perfection in IE 6 a while ago and it sure feels fine.

  • I simply stopped developing for IE (6, 7, 8 ), at least on my sites.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Thanks for your comments!

    It seems like a number of web sites now seem to openly support this cause, especially in Scandinavia, and no one is happier than me to see it happening!

  • I've been saying this for years…

  • […] Originally Posted by vercetti Tell me baout it…. Have developed sites for BOFA, RBS, ANZ and now Telstra which are compatible on IE6 Read this: Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 – Robert’s talk – Web development and Internet trends […]

  • […] Internet Explorer 6 pÃ¥gÃ¥r för fullt kan man läsa en intressant artikel pÃ¥ webbutvecklarens Robert Nymans blogg. Han har dragit slutsatsen att tiden för att bygga användargränssnittet för en webbplats kan […]

  • […] Nyman tar steget längre och uppmanar dessutom alla webbutvecklare att sluta utveckla för Internet Explorer 6. Genom att sluta att dalta med struliga och omoderna IE6 bidrar man till webbens utveckling och […]

  • Matt says:

    Microsoft has released free virtual machines for ie6 and ie7 testing.. given enough ram power, those could be used for the old intranet sites.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Matt,

    I like that idea! It definitely sounds like an option for at least some people.

  • Birgit says:

    Hi,

    I wrote a follow-up article in German here.

    While it is still difficult for us to drop support for IE6 in a corporate environment, what we can do is teach, raise awareness and help switching if required. Also I personally think it's ok to reduce IE6 support to a minimum so that the sites remain readable and usable, but not to tinker around every single alpha transparency problem etc.

    Thanks for inspiring me!

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Birgit,

    Thanks!

    I whole-heartedly agree with you.

  • Picli says:

    I'm with you.

    IE6 is internet cancer.

    Kill it with fire

  • […] stopped offering IE6 support last year and developers from Sweden and Norway are already using this approach, in the spanish web there are also some examples. In the […]

  • […] des weiterhin meistverwendeten Browser gefeiert wird. Verschiedentlich wird diskutiert, die speziell auf den Browser abgestellte Entwicklung einfach einzustellen oder aber möglichst penetrant zur Aktualisierung zu […]

  • Jackson says:

    I agree 100%, IE6 is crap

  • […] einigen Wochen zum Upgrade aufgefordert. Eventuell entfallen ja schon in wenigen Jahren nicht mehr 20% der Entwicklungskosten einer Website allein darauf, diese für den Internet Explorer 6 aufzubereiten. Microsoft hat seine Pflicht mit […]

  • […] einigen Wochen zum Upgrade aufgefordert. Eventuell entfallen ja schon in wenigen Jahren nicht mehr 20% der Entwicklungskosten einer Website allein darauf, diese für den Internet Explorer 6 aufzubereiten. Microsoft hat seine Pflicht mit […]

  • Tino Zijdel says:

    We did it!

    Tweakers.net is the largest ICT-related news-site of the Netherlands with also a very large community, and as of today we officially dropped IE6 support :)

  • Jay says:

    I would rather tell a client to upgrade their browser, than to downgrade their browser. :)

  • […] I strongly disagree with those who say web folk should stop supporting IE6 now, that we should use special stylesheets to make sites look particularly ugly in IE6, or more […]

  • […] it means it was built for a simpler, more innocent online world and today, that means broken. When support is finally withdrawn, IE6 will be nearly as old now as the web itself was when it was […]

  • Luke says:

    I hate doing css fixes for ie6. I'm pretty young to web design – my education was more graphic design. So I'd say I've spent something like 30-40% of my design time researching little hacks and fixes. We started a private company, and i told our clients about the ie6 declining market share and my inexperience with support for this browser. They still wanted it sometimes. And I still wanted to scream sometimes. I've recently started informing clients that I won't support ie6 anymore (it's like working with asbestos – i just won't do it anymore… for my heath).

    I still use one ie6 fix – a javascript that tells people not to comeback until they've got a standards compliant browser.

    I know there's been a lot of posts here about corporate users and old intranets needing ie6, but there comes a time when every kid has to stop sleeping in momma's bed. Quit giving in to the toddler and make them grow up! We as developers need to kick the kid out of the bed. Stop supporting it and they'll have to do something.

    All ranting ceases now.

    I was thrilled when ie8 was released, and even more thrilled when they announced that they would cease XP support. How much will this speed the passing of ie6?

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Luke,

    One can only hope that the IE 8 release and no more XP support will help speeding it up. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

  • Chris says:

    IE6 is not secure!! forget the css/javascript/dom standards for a sec and think about the REAL problem. If we make web apps that contain any significant amount of sensitive data, shouldn't that justify dropping support for ie6? with ie6 your clients are at risk, and so is your wallet (after the hefty lawsuit).

    Plus, if you could just deal with the 20% or so loss of traffic for a year, then in the long run you will be much better off because your portfolio will have much better looking work than those that are still trying to catch up to the new standards.

    In the same time you make 5 ie6 websites, you could have made 6 anti-ie6 sites… there's your 20% back for the 20% loss of ignorant users.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    Chris,

    Absolutely, the security aspect is also a very important concern.

  • I fully support you and hope that the joomla community will do that too!

    Let us kill ie6

  • […] When using the code above and your PHP file is named download.php Internet Explorer 6 may not use the filename download.pdf but show “download.php” instead so it might be useful to use an Apache RewriteRule so that the browser sees a .pdf file extension instead. But this should only be a problem for you if you still want to support an outdated and insecure browser. […]

  • adumbednell says:

    Nothing interesting, buy thank you. azvpo124

  • ????? ??…

    Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 – WEB DEVELOPERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THIS INFORMATION TO THEIR CUSTOMERS….

  • […] Javascript support and general HTML rendering. While I applaud the initiative of some developers to stop developing for IE6, I think testing in at least two versions of Internet Explorer will still be a requirement in the […]

  • […] Stop Developing For Internet Explorer 6 Google schickt den IE6 in die Wüste Internet Explorer (webmastertipps) Written by admin in: projects | […]

  • […] (sane) web developers are eagerly awaiting the day Internet Explorer 6 dies. While there are a number of opinions in the community on when we should drop support and how we should encourage users to […]

  • joe developer says:

    <!–[if lt IE 7]>–>

    Time to upgrade your browser

    If you're reading this, you're surfing using Internet Explorer 6, an eight-year-old browser that cannot cope with the demands of the modern internet, and has SERIOUS SECURITY ISSUES. For the best web experience, we strongly recommend upgrading to Firefox, Opera, Safari, Google Chrome, or a more recent version of Internet Explorer.

  • MSXROCKS says:

    1600% agreeing with you.

    Can you imagine how top-notch the web would look like if we had left IE6 sooner… This is just unbelievable. We lost years of advanced designs and performances, a new sacrificed generation of developers and end-users.

    IE6 was extremely stable attractive with no equivalent when it came out but the Internet is now still looking poor mainly because of this browser. Microsoft must also agree with that too.

    It is a bit aggressive but we developers have to stop support for this browser to oblige end-users to upgrade. When they will notice they can't surf any page, they will be forced upgrade. By keeping developing for IE6, and beside previously stated loss of time and money on IE6 compatibility, IE6 users have no reason to upgrade.

    IE6 is not secure for end-users so for the servers.

  • Robert, this article is Amazing! And I couldn't agree more with what you are saying!

    Here is a document that we developed to help users take to their companies. It discusses why businesses should offer their users an alternative to IE6.

    I hope that you have a chance to look at it.

    Thanks.

    http://mitto.com
    Your Safe and Secure Online Password Manager

  • Robert Nyman says:

    MSXROCKS,

    Yeah, just imagine what the web could have been by now without IE 6…

    Elgin,

    Thank you! Also, thanks for the link!

  • […] and prehistorical piece of software Internet Explorer 6. Why would you do this as a developer? Here are some good […]

  • […] et préhistorique Internet Explorer 6. Pourquoi devrait-on faire ça en tant que développeur? Voici quelques bons […]

  • DutchAdmin says:

    We sell houseware items including kitchenware, furniture, and household decorations. As such, those who access our website do so primarily from their home. Your stats of ~20% using IE6 are consistent with our own. We are experiencing performance issues with IE6, but we must support these potential customers. As a software developer (12 web/15 overall experience), I feel the same pain as everyone else, but we cannot afford to lose a fraction of those who currently use IE6.

    It would be inpracticle to believe we are not losing business due to our current issues with IE6, so we do not have much of a choice than to continue to meet the problem head-on. I think it is logical to assume a downward trend in the use of IE6, especially with Windows 7 now released, but as a business we cannot take a passive view on this or any other deterant to our website. I am glad that you have taken such a position – we indirectly benefit from others who correctly abandon support for IE6. Thank you for a nice article.

  • Robert Nyman says:

    DutchAdmin,

    I definitely understand where you are coming from, and sometimes we have no choice. What I would suggest, though, is make sure the site works in IE 6, but put all the extra effort into making it better (i.e. all the bells and whistles, from rounded corners with CSS to more advanced things like DOM Storage etc).

  • 100% agree with everything here.

    I have stopped specifically supporting IE7 already. And that was a very difficult decision to come by. Windows users have the luxury of using Windows Update to seemlessly update to IE8, so it's not a major issue.

    The more people that band together and refuse to cater for IE7, the quicker this path will be as IE7 users will begin to get a bad experience with more and more web sites.

    Take a hard stance and stop supporting this old rubbish. It's the only way.

    Like others above, it's an extra cost for my customer and a waste of time keeping the whole internet happy with IE7 when those IE7 people can simply upgrade to IE8 by clicking "Windows Update".

    I sometimes put a specific message saying "It appears you are using IE7, please upgrade to IE8, Firefox or Google Chrome to view this site correctly".

  • […] Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 […]

  • […] 09: Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 […]

  • […] Robert Nyman:  Stop Developing for Internet Explorer 6 […]

  • cmd says:

    Just stop developing for IE at all, it is still not completely standards compliant, and doesn't completely pass Acid 3 test.

  • […] has been quite a large movement to get users to upgrade from IE6. Some even took the stance to stop developing for IE6 altogether. I, however, always optimized sites for IE6 because 9 times out of 10 […]

  • […] Stop Developing for Internet Explorer 6 by Robert Nyman […]

  • […] came across this won­derful article called Stop Devel­oping for IE6 that lays out a number of excel­lent argu­ments for the ces­sa­tion of the prac­tise, […]

  • […] Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 – I couldn't agree more. I stopped checking all of my site in IE 6 years ago. I'm not a web developer by profession so I don't need to keep everyone happy. If you're running old and backward software, that's your problem, not mine. […]

  • […] Stop developing for Internet Explorer 6 – Robert’s Talk […]

  • erwinus says:

    Stop developing for all versions of internet explorer and avoid IE hacks.Put something like this on your website:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ieghostbuster/

    Cheers!

  • kiash says:

    I hate Internet Explorer! :p

  • Here Here. Already started dropping support for IE6 where I can. There still some very large companies on IE6 and some of them unfortunately are our clients, so it’s a big task to persuade them not to support IE6, but we’re slowly getting there I think. Had a big client upgrade to IE9 recently. A massive step in the right direction.

  • Erwinus says:

    Drop all support for IE8 and below, stop the hacking bullshit. It is not your problem, blame microsoft. Show the user the differences! When there is no visual difference there is no reason to switch, user can’t see the pain behind the hacks!

  • Neferupitto says:

    Yah! I agree too! IE is been always a pain in the ass! Especially for a developer like me! More even harder developing and has a huge bugs

  • S.S. says:

    Its so funny, reading it and all this comments in 2012 (almost in 2013) and having on my desk fresh project of the site for big company in Singapore. Guess what…

    ..yes, they want it to work on IE6 >,<

  • Robert Nyman says:

    I’m sorry to hear that. :-)

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