Get Upgraded, Or Get Lost (For IE6 Support)

As a developer, it's one of the most frustrating things to realise certain standards exist, but they're not adopted properly. I'm talking explicitly about IE6. If standards were followed, we'd only need 1 CSS stylesheet, and every webpage out there would look the same.

But they're not followed, and we're the dupe of it.

The guys over at SaveTheDevelopers.org have started a new campaign, titled "Say No To IE 6″. And they're bloody right too!

People browsing the web with an out-of-date browser make it a lot harder for developers, but they also pose a security risk for themselves.

1. Browser upgrades exist for a reason.

In an ever-evolving world, where more security leaks are found than fixed, it's imperative to keep up-to-date. You need a browser that protects you when you browse the internet, you need one that is "as safe as it'll get".

2. Give your local developer a break.

Developing becomes more frustrating with the day. Not because of we can't keep up with modern technologies, but because our end-users can't. We try to keep updated on new techniques, new ways to present data, new user interfaces, ...

And whenever we try to implement those new techniques, we run into the same old story: we can't use it, because users haven't adapted to it yet. Why create awesome applications that use Javascript & XML (AJAX), Shockwave or JAVA when there are still browsers that don't support it?

Should we keep creating a "Dumb User That Doesn't Upgrade"-version of every website? Or should we start saying no, and advise them to upgrade to use the full potential of the website?

Which brings us to the next point ...

3. Convince people to upgrade & start enjoying development again

While this sounds logical, and an easy thing to do: it certainly isn't. Convincing users to upgrade to a new version, while the current one has served them good for so many yeaers, is a hard thing to do.

Prove to them the benefits of upgrading, and the risks if they don't. It's usually the less-IT-minded percentage of your visitors that have an out-of-date browser, so when you explain things, don't use too many technical terms. Hell, even use simple icons if you think it might help.

Advise Firefox or Opera. This will probably generate responses such as "Wha?", "Hu?", "Does it bite?". It's not easy to migrate to another program, especially for not-tech-savvy people. So if that doesn't work, try upgrading to IE7. Even IE7 possesses some serious advantages over IE6:

  1. Built-in pop-up protections: tired of annoying pop-ups that ruin your internet experience? IE7 has this feature built-in by default.
  2. Phishing-filter: you think you're browsing www.ebay.com, but you're not. That's phishing, and IE6 is extremely vulnerable to these hacks. IE7 has built-in phishing support, that will alert & protect you if this occurs.
  3. More general security: IE7 was published more than 5 years after IE6, and thus possesses a lot of security fixes.

These are just some of the reasons upgrading is important. If you're really feeling up to a challenge, try to convince them to upgrade to Firefox or Opera. Not even IE7 has full CSS standard support, but at least it's better than IE6.

4. Now what?

It's in the end-users benefit to upgrade, we just have to make them realize it. If we keep supporting older browsers, even after so many years, no one will upgrade -- because there's no need to. We complain about the lack of standard-support in older browsers, yet we keep supporting them. It's our fault IE6 is still so widely used, and it's our time to make a change.

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  1. Firefox 3, buggy for daily use? I’ve been using Firefox 3 since the Beta 1 release, and I’ve never, ever had a problem with it.

    In my own case at work, I wish the higher-ups would stop supporting IE6. But 15% of the current site visitors are using IE6 to browse our side, and that’s high enough for them. I would just force them to either upgrade, or just accept that there will be bugs. For a developer or designer it’s easy to make that decision, but for a business, they’ll do whatever they can to try to get 100% coverage, which is nearly impossible unless A LOT of effort is spent.

  2. I’ve seen slow performance of FF3, but that was due to an outdated Java installed, or because other programs interfered (extensions, browser plugins, … ).

    It’s very frustrating to see “high chiefs” still using IE6, so when presenting a new website they’ll be the first to experience the downside of an out-of-date browser. But seeing as how they actually have to approve it, you’re just forced to make it compatible …

  3. I’ve reached the same conclusion back in February: http://haineault.com/blog/42/

    > I have had much better success at getting people to go to Safari on windows then FF3. FF3 is still to buggy for daily use by a non-technical user.

    Are you out of your mind ? Did you even gave Firefox a chance ?

    I’ve been using Firefox *intensively* since version 0.8 for web development, it’s fast, stable, standard compliant, free and cross-platform and its interface is intuitive.

    And did I mention that the download/installation takes literally 1/10th of the time IE7 takes ?

    Sure sometimes there is some bugs, but unlike IE, they get fixed .. *fast*.

  4. Suppose it boils down to “who pays your rent?” I work for an NGO that is run by a bunch of old farts who think that Win 98 on a Dell of the same vintage is state-of-the-art. They surf with IE 5.5