IE6? Move On!

November 22, 2008

Internet Explorer 8 is just around the corner. IE7 has been available for two years. IE6 is not standards compliant. IE6 is not secure. IE6 is frumpy.

If you're still using IE6, it is time to make a change and I'll explain why in just a second. First, though, I realize that the migration from IE6 to IE7 has been slower than the migration between any other version of IE. I know that there are still some Windows 98/ME users out there (less than 2% of my visitors) and that IE6 is the most recent browser that will run on those versions of Windows. And I know that there are some emotional and even political issues associated with Windows XP. My late friend Paul Hawthorne refused to migrate to XP because of his objection to product activation.

Still, IE7 is vastly superior to and more secure than IE6. So are Firefox and Safari and Opera. It is in your best interest to make a switch to at least one of these modern browsers. Besides the security and compatibility issues, they all have very nice and very much improved browsing features. Firefox, with its huge portfolio of interesting and helpful add-on modules, is especially interesting.

The bad news for Windows 98 users is that none of these options are available for your operating system. For all intents and purposes, Win98 is dead. I used to have a test computer loaded with Win98 but I abandoned it three years ago.

Now here's the problem.  With the advent of IE8, Web site developers are going to stop considering IE6 a mainstream browser and are going to stop making accommodations for it. As a Web developer, I know what a pain it is to make sure Web sites will work in IE6. I can tell you from experience that when a browser is contributing less than 5% of the visits to a given site, the site's developers will no longer make a special effort for that browser. I will no longer make that effort even though it accounts for nearly 20% of my visitors.

Here's the math for my site. Although 20% of my visitors show up with IE6, only 2% show up with Win98. The other 18% are running Windows XP. All the modern browsers will run in XP, not just IE7. I'm hard pressed to understand why an XP user is visiting with IE6, even if the visit is coming from inside a business where IE6 remains the standard. From my perspective, only 2% of my visitors are stuck. Although I don't want to disenfranchise any of my visitors, I must be practical.

Do yourself a favor. Switch to a modern browser. Now.

Tags: Internet Explorer, Web, Web Browsers

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