What is “IE6 is Older Than Your Grandpa”?
IE6isOlderThanYourGrandpa is a site I launched today to commemorate IE6 turning 3000 days old. A milestone like that should be an interesting piece of trivia, like celebrating the birthday of the tape recorder. However, IE6 is still in wide usage today, making this milestone more tragedy than trivia. 3000 days in internet time is the equivalent of several decades in human time; we’ve seen many critical developments on the web, none of which were anticipated by IE6.
I know something else that IE is older than.
Great, please add it to the comments below or let me know, preferably with a wikipedia link. If it’s well known to the global community, I’ll add it to the site.
How do I know if I’m using IE6?
Visit this site to find out.
(To those who can’t believe this question has any purpose…see here.)
How does IE6 hold users back?
IE6 holds end-users back in many ways. It runs dynamic websites slower than modern browsers. It goes against many web standards, so applications often don’t work as well. As time goes on, and it becomes more and more ancient and less and less popular, web developers will simply stop supporting IE6 for certain features, or just give up on supporting the browser at all. Finally, modern browsers have features designed to make them more helpful in terms of searching, bookmarking, and viewing websites. They are also more secure in many cases.
How does IE6 hold developers back?
Web developers have to support users running many different browsers inside many different operating systems and devices. Fortunately, there are standards established to provide some consistency across all these platforms. Unfortunately, IE6 significantly deviates from these standards. Thus, developers have to pour substantial resources into supporting IE6 alongside other browsers, at the expense of making a better website. This is why you get web developers constantly complaining about IE6 on blogs and twitter.
If IE6 holds developers back, how come the examples you cite – Google Maps, YouTube, and others – still work in IE6?
Firstly, there’s a selection bias here; to make examples accessible, I’ve specifically chosen sites that, though they are revolutionary, do work in IE6. The truth is that no major site would ignore IE6; it’s too big to ignore. The trend’s changing though; even Google released its new hotness – Google Wave – without IE6 support. The team apparently found it too much work to support this relic of a browser, so they suggested IE6 users install the Chrome Frame plugin; if you’re doing that, you may as well just install the Chrome browser. There are also many smaller sites, demos, and browser extensions that don’t work in IE6 and will never work in IE6. Even for sites that do work, the experience is typically faster and richer in modern browsers.
In the case of an app like Maps, Google has directed considerable resources and brains to solving the problem of building something innovative, while still supporting IE6. Smaller developers simply don’t have the option to do that.
Furthermore, when you see video, sound, and rich graphics inside IE6, you’re not really looking at IE6, but Flash, Silverlight, or Java installed on top of IE6. These third-party technologies are becoming redundant, as modern web browsers implement open standards for video, sounds, and rich graphics. Apart from the lock-in aspect inherent in many third-party plugins, there are several compelling reasons to prefer open web technologies.
Is this an anti-Microsoft campaign?
No. Compared to most of my peers in the tech community, I actually have a lot of respect for what Microsoft has done to further access and ease-of-use in the IT industry. Oh, and for the record, I do not know and never have spelt Microsoft with a $ in its name ;). I am speaking here not about Microsoft, but IE6, a specific product Microsoft released at a specific time in the distant past. The same company has since released two more major versions, so if you prefer Microsoft, look at IE8, not IE6. According to Microsoft, IE8 is “faster than ever”, “easier than ever”, and “safer than ever”. Compare it to Firefox (my personal favourite, let it be known), Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, or Opera; or many other niche options, and choose the one you like the most. Best of all, they will all cost you a big fat zero. (This is not to say that IE8 is perfect; it’s still the least standard-compliant of all these options, but it’s big step up from IE6.)
The real question is why corporate IT departments continue to mandate IE6. There are a range of reasons for that, some reasonable and some very irrational ones, but I’d rather focus on the benefits of upgrading and leave the cost-benefit analysis to others.
Where can I find more info?