Last month, Microsoft announced that it would automatically* begin updating IE6 users to the latest version of Internet Explorer. This announcement is making most web designers and developers extremely happy (though many would like to see IE7 disappear as well!)
Internet Explorer 6 was released 10 years ago. Since then, the way websites are designed, developed and used has changed radically. Many times newer websites do not display or function properly when viewed using IE6 unless a developer spends extra time “debugging” the site so that it works. In addition to better compatibility, newer browsers tend to provide better security features, keeping users safer.
The number of people actually using IE6 is hard to determine. W3schools puts the current usage at 1.6%; however, I’ve seen estimates showing that up to 8.6% of users worldwide are using IE6 (mostly in China, India and South Korea). Over the last few years, many developers have stopped supporting IE6, assuming that most users who use this outdated browser are used to seeing websites that do not function properly. Naturally, you have to consider who the audience is for the website. My current website has had only a single visitor in the past 1 1/2 years who looked at my site using IE6, so I’m not really worried about having to support it. However, I have a potential client based in China would need an IE6 compatible website.
Microsoft goes over the details of this decision in The Windows Blog.
Visit the Internet Explorer 6 Countdown site to watch the number of current IE6 users dwindle as people update to the newer version!
*Microsoft does offer a way opt-out of the automatic updates so it might take longer for IE6 to die off!
I’m loving this online tool, Adobe Browserlab which provides real-time screenshots of web pages for online cross-browser testing.
An important step in website production involves testing to make sure the website is appearing properly in various browsers and operating systems. Ideally to do this, you would have both a Mac and PC loaded up with various versions of the most popular browsers (or use a program similar to Parallels) that would allow for this type of testing. However, sometimes this set-up isn’t possible and Adobe Browserlab provides a great way to quickly test webpages to see how they looks in different browsers.
While Adobe Browserlab doesn’t show you how the website is functioning (it only gives you screenshots), it’s a great tool for checking sites as you are building them.