Get Upgraded, Or Get Lost (For IE6 Support)

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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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