IE6 - Should Devs Stop Caring?

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IE6 - Should Devs Stop Caring?

· Web Dev Zone ·
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We can't say it enough - working with IE6 is a pain!  Plenty of web developers have given up trying to account for it, and with its market share steadily dropping, that seems like a viable option now.  Microsoft's plan to encourage IE6 users to upgrade seems to have worked in some areas.  According to StatCounter,  the usage of Internet Explorer 6 fell below 5% in the US and Europe last month.  

StatCounter's CEO, Aodhan Cullen, says that "At these levels web developers now have valid justification not to support IE6 in the future."  However, Yahoo's JavaScript Architect, Douglas Crockford (also the "discoverer of JSON"), is skeptical of StatCounter's numbers and asserts that IE6's numbers are much stronger than StatCounter's results, and much higher internationally.  

The report did say that developers who are targeting Asia or Africa should still make their apps and websites IE6 compatible because there are still high levels of usage in those regions (20.8% in Asia).  Crockford believes that IE6 still holds 40%-60% of the market.  Unfortunately, Microsoft has no way to make people upgrade; it's up to web developers to truly bury IE6.

That hasn't stopped major players like Google from doing their part to encourage the quick death of IE6.  Google Reader, YouTube, Google Docs and several other Google sites no longer support IE6.  It seems that more web progressives are supporting this 'tough love' approach to IE6 users.  At the Web 2.0 conference, Crockford suggested a plan for systematically ending IE6 in a short amount of time through a combined effort where no one feels like they've lost a slice of the market: "One day all of us should redirect to a page that says, 'hey, try  one of these browsers.'  We all have to do it on the same day, otherwise we get worried that we’re sending them to our competitor.  I propose that day is 30 days after all modern browsers fully implement ES5 (ECMA Script 5)."

DZone did its part by posting instructions on how to make your own "Does Not Support IE6" message.  There are also some crueler methods out there for persuading people to upgrade.  In this case, the ends might justify the means.  Developers would have a much easier life, and they'd be able to do a lot more if they didn't have to deal with IE6.  The death of IE6 would also close a huge security gap in the web that has already caused Google some major trouble.  


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