• Stop Supporting IE6

    by  • 17 December 2008 • CSS, Design

    As a community, as a whole, web designers and developers need to stop supporting Internet Explorer 6. Now. Completely.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about browser compatibility as I’ve been working on Today’s Meet. My CSS is valid, but it doesn’t work quite right in IE6. The interface is completely JavaScript-based, and will only become moreso in the future. How much time should I put into making it all work with IE6?

    None.

    I know lots of people, usually in government offices or schools, who are stuck with IE6. For some reason, their IT departments have neglected to update their systems for over two years.

    (Sure, some of these systems are running Windows 2000. This is a real minority at this point, though, and the rest have no excuse. If you’re running Windows 2000, and absolutely cannot afford to get new systems, get Firefox.)

    I used to think I needed to support IE6 because this group is frighteningly large. But now I’ve come to realize—especially in the wake of this week’s news—that by supporting IE6, all I’m really doing is enabling these lazy IT departments to keep running dangerously out-of-date software.

    IE6 is the Vicodin to lazy IT’s Dr. House. As developers we’re Drs. Wilson and Cuddy. Just keep handing it out.

    How up-to-date is the rest of the software on a system that (apparently) hasn’t run Windows Update in 2 years? What other major security holes, accessibility issues, and compatibility problems would be solved by updating?

    Not only is supporting IE6 annoying, it enables people to run software that is out-of-date and easily exploited. Are we really helping users, or are we just helping them get hacked?

    So from now on, no more.

    My personal projects will no longer support IE6. I won’t test in IE6.

    IE7, Firefox 3, Safari 3, provisionally Opera (really, if it works in the first 3, it should work in Opera).  Keep your software up-to-date.

    If you’re still using IE6, go get 7. (Then don’t use it until after the Windows Update patch.)

    If you can’t run updates, but can install software, go get Firefox.

    If you can’t do any of that, tell your IT department that running software 2 years out of date is unacceptable. Tell your boss to tell them. It’s a performance/security/accessibility/compatibility/etc issue.

    And if you’re a developer, stop and think. Are you actually doing your visitors any good by supporting IE6? Or should you take all the time and effort you put into backwards compatibility and put it someplace more valuable?

    • http://holymoleephoto.com Chris Lee
    • http://jamessocol.com/ James

      Thanks for the link, Chris. I normally come down on the side of universal access, and I’m certainly not saying we should break sites for IE6. But one thing that equation doesn’t consider: do we have some obligation as developers to drag people into up-to-date, safe computers?

    • http://misty-beier.com Misty Beier

      I’m undecided if I should support IE6 or not for my new site. If I do, then that just means visitors won’t bother updating their browser. If I don’t, then my site will render badly and I may lose some visitors.

      Losing visitors who use IE6 as their browser… that doesn’t sound so bad to me. Also, it makes sense in my line of work as a web designer. I need to be supporting the latest versions of browsers and in turn, they support the latest CSS language.

      http://www.misty-beier.com/Blog/2009/01/16/Supporting-IE6-in-2009/m1.aspx

    • http://jamessocol.com/ James

      I like your conclusion on IE6. If there’s no compelling reason to spend the effort on it, why would you?