On February 16th 2001 Jeffery Zeldman posted an article called “To Hell with Bad Browsers” on A List Apart. It was an eye opening experience for me, and was the piece of the puzzle to why accessibility and standards compliant websites were a must have going forward. The title was memorable enough that it’s stuck with me all this time.
At the time I had just finished up the launch of TSNMAX, and the CEO of Bell Globe Media, Lib Gibson, was giving me a list of all of the problems that TSNMAX had with Netscape 4.7, which was her sole browser of choice. The browser was dead in the water at the time, and the “To Hell With Bad Browsers” article gave me a ton of ammunition.
Fast Forward seven years, and we’re in the same boat, except this time with IE 6. I hope that this treatise can be used by other developers to convince their bosses that it’s time to kill IE 6 in the corporate world.
Netscape Navigator 4.7 was released around January 1998, but it was based off of a code base that was released in June 1997. Three years later web designers and developers were trying to build standards compliant solutions, but Navigator would display perfectly legitimate code in a number of wrong ways, forcing developers to create hacks.
The same curve is happening now. All other modern web browsers will render pages out well, but IE 6 requires a host of hacks to get those pages to render correctly.
IE 6 was released on August 27th 2001. That’s more than seven years ago at the time of this writing. A lot of things have happened to web design in the meantime, and a lot of it IE 6 was simply never designed to handle. Online web apps, pre caching, browser security, tabbed browsing, anti-phishing measures, proper DOM implementation and the CSS box model are all things that IE 6 struggles with or simply doesn’t deal with.
IE 6 is not safe. It’s been widely criticized for the numerous security holes that are found in it. Enterprises should not be using the browser, and if they have updated to Windows XP SP2 should have automatically been upgraded to IE 7.
Six years is forever on the internet
It’s a full version behind “modern”, and soon to be two!
IE 7 has been out since October 18th 2006, nearly two years ago. IE 8 will be released before the end of 2008, and yet when you look at web stats IE 6 is still predominantly used by business. Firefox has gone through three major releases and several point releases. Safari has emerged as a possible Windows browser, and Google Chrome has debuted in that same time period.
IE 6 is a dead browser which has been end of life since October 18th 2006.
Content creators did it once before, by banding together and creating “This will suck in IE 6” conditional comments, we can begin to phase this horrible browser out. This will be good for the internet in general, and good for the laggards who don’t know that there’s a better way out there.
I propose the following, in a conditional IE 6 comment so that the bad people know that there’s hope for them.
<!–[if IE 6]>
<div style=”width: 100%; background-color: #fffbbd; color: #000;”>
<h3>You are currently using IE 6</h3>
<p>Pages may render poorly, and your browser security may be compromised</p>
<p>Upgrade to <a href=”http://www.microsoft.com/ie/”>the latest version of IE</a>, or switch to <a href=”http://www.getfirefox.com”>Firefox</a>, <a href=”http://www.opera.com”>Opera</a>, or <a href=”http://www.apple.com/safari/”>Safari</a> for a better experience.<br />
Corporate users, tell your IT department why <a href=”http://browsehappy.com/why/”>IE 6 is unsafe</a>.</p>
Edit: Thanks to Jeremy in the comments below for turning me on to Save the Developers. Check it out, it’s a great idea and the message is identical to the one that I’m putting out here.
Speaking of which, if you like “To Hell with IE 6”, make sure you Float it or Digg it. The more attention we get, the more likely Corporate Uuber Giant Company will pressure their helpdesk to push out that IE 7 rollout that they’ve held off for two years.
Nicely put. Also: http://www.pushuptheweb.com/
Although the demo buttons don’t seem to be working for me at the moment…
From August 2001 til now (September 2008) is 7 years, not 6. Other than that, I completely agree with your article. I’m teaching a continuing education web design class, and does IE6 ever make that a complicated process!
In all sincerity, IE7 is not much better than IE6. It still rendering boxes using the hasLayout black magic. IE8 is the first Tasman-based browser that has finally kicked that internal, recommendations-violating part of the engine to the curb.
See http://www.satzansatz.de/cssd/onhavinglayout.html for the world’s best explanation on hasLayout.
Well said Brian. Standards are an important part of any Internet I want to be a part of. Proprietary formats just hurt.
And i extend your theme out to everything, from network protocols to POSIX standard compliant OS’s to application data formats. Standards and openness just rule. They feel good, and they will last. Others will come, maybe cause some hype, but eventually fade away.