The conversation is heating up a little hotter than usual lately, as major companies are starting to pull support for it. Apple’s new MobileMe service doesn’t support it. 37 signals is phasing out support for it. Matt Mullenweg says WordPress.com is still seeing about 25% of visits from IE 6 but will consider phasing out when it drops below 10%.
I thought I would start the conversation by covering the reasons I think people still use this browser. The percentages I am applying here are just for fun and complete speculation on my part. Feel free to chime in with comments on why you think so many people are still using this browser.
1. Because they have to (30%)
I hear fairly regularly from people using IE 6 because that’s what is on their computer at work and they are not allowed to change it. Big companies are slow to change, that has always been true. I’m no security expert, but I’m told IE 7 is a much more secure browser, I would think that alone would be intensive for big companies to get their employees on IE 7. But still, from an IT perspective, I can understand how rolling out a change like this can take tons of man hours for seemingly little benefit, especially if using the web isn’t core to the companies business.
People might also hold onto IE 6 because they use a website that either does, or claims to, only work on that browser. These websites are getting fewer and far between but they are certainly out there.
2. Because they have an old computer. (20%)
If they are using Windows 2000 IE 6 is the most current browser for that operating system as far as I know. Not to mention ME and 98.
3. Because they actively don’t care / dislike change (35%)
I say “actively” because if they just “passively” don’t care, Windows has probably automatically upgraded them without them even knowing. If they are actively not caring, they are probably clicking “No” and “Cancel” on whatever dialog boxes come up suggesting upgrades. They are probably creating more work for themselves by doing so, but they don’t know that.
If anything does change on their system, they may even take drastic steps to have it restored to it’s original version. I bet Geek Squad people could tell your stories of people demanding their web browser be returned to IE 6 after accidentally upgrading. People get used to using software in a certain way to get what they need to do done, and they are prone to getting upset if anything interrupts that.
4. Because they don’t know any better (15%)
I believe this is the smallest portion. People that could or would upgrade to a better browser, if convinced, but just don’t know the advantages yet.
Noticeably missing from this list:
“Because they want to.” I bet there are some crazies out there that love IE 6, but this is sub 1%.
What do these things all have in common?
There is very little we can do. We can educate people about the advantages of better browsers, but a lot of times we are just preaching to the choir or talking to deaf ears. The realit is, as we probably all know deep down, is that we are just going to have to wait this out. In a few years we’ll see probably lower than 10% usage across the board. Then we’ll be upset about a whole new set of things we want to use but are upset IE 7 doesn’t support!
I had to remove IE 7 from my machine because it interferes with MusicMatch. I use Flock now, but the only IE browser I have is 6. Pathetic, huh?
I’d bet you that “4. Because they donâ€™t know any better” is much more than 15%. Many of my customers say “what?” when I ask them what browser they’re using. My guess would be 40+%.
Rachel, surly that’s the fault of MusicMatch not IE7…
I understand all the reasons above but isn’t it about time we stopped supporting such an old bit of software? IE6 came out in 2001, and was replaced 2 years ago by IE7.
The internet isn’t just plain text any more, its much more like software and if you want to experience it and/or be part of it you have to have the tools for the job.
All IMO BTW
The real problem is that people don’t know or care what a browser is. There computer has “got the internet” and to look at the internet you double click on the blue “e”.
The decision to support certain browsers is always based on what group of people u are focusing on. General websites such as local store websites should support IE6, but when your target is more in the range of developers, or advanced users its easier to drop support for them because most of them do not “fear” upgrades.
I think dropping support of IE6 is to early, the numbers don’t lie, the mandatory of people using are using IE, and most of them are still IE6. Instead of removing the support, its best to EDUCATE the user. Tell them what they are missing and why its vital that they upgrade the browser, not only to have a better experiance on your own website but also others.
Just simple messages such as U are using an out of date browser, please upgrade the latest version for a better and safer browser experience.
But that is just my 20 cent..
Also, debugging is part of the job as developer, if it wasn’t there i would be bored as fuck, it makes the job interesting and the satishfaction that u get after u fixed an issue is a great reward after a few min / hours spend.. Yes it sometimes limits the use of latest technologies. But u could just browser target if u must (different content for different browers… etc).
Wheeee popcorn time.
I wish they’d update so I do not have to make CSS for IE6. I already have a hard enough time CSS’ing for IE7. Can’t we all just get UPDATED?!
Most people dont know. When I recently released a site I decided not to support or really fix things in ie6. When users emailed me about problems I wrote some VERY detailed instructions on how to install ie7 or FF :)
I have a client who has to use IE6 – the reason being is their key accounts / order / stock package only works on an old version of Windows server which doesn’t support IE7. Until they spend Â£50k+ on a new system, they are stuck with IE6.
I’d have to agree with David Walsh that a much larger percentage of users simply don’t know what a browser is — I’ve heard people use the term “browser” interchangeably with “user” because they didn’t realize they were different things.
Several of our larger clients have delayed upgrading because they use web-based software built specifically for IE6, and their vendors have told them it isn’t safe to upgrade. In one case, the conflict is with another Microsoft product. Sad, shameful, but true.
I get 40% with IE6 and 60% with IE7.
At what point do we draw the line as developers? I feel as if we are enabling these IE6 users by back dating code 3 years. Just like the digital TV switch in 09, I think we as developers need a drop dead date.
I may stop supporting IE6 by 2009. I will simple add in an if IE6 statement to to display a page asking them to upgrade. Flash does it, and you know what, most flash users have the latest version or two.
If we stop delivering the content they want, they will have to upgrade. Same thing worked with the great Leaded to unleaded switch. A date was set, manufacturers were on board, and it happened.
I agree with your points Chris. However I personally think the only way to cut off definitely with the use of IE6 is that designers stops completely to think about it and stop develop custom stylesheets or hacks for it.
In my work, I always tell my clients before I sign a contract that I won’t develop for IE6 until they explicitly ask me to do it, but if I have to do it, it’s not a free service. Since now, 100% of my clients are happy with it and I had no problem or bad feedback about that.
Now the only problem is to put designers doing this together… WE, designers, make the web, let’s make it better without IE6 and let’s forget this obsolete browser!
In order to get rid of IE6 once and for all, I think a two way attack is in order.
On one front, Microsoft needs to “force” updates to IE7 for XP. On the other front, developers need to stop supporting IE6. When people start visiting site after site that is either butchered by their browser or simply presents them with a message that they can’t view the site using IE6, they’ll (hopefully) get the message.
I completely agree with Matt’s above me.
“Dude, Microsoft just made a new Internet Explorer called Firefox!”
~The dumbest comment made to about browsers.
I have IE6 on one of my PCs which runs ME, I probably won’t change that,
it is not the only computer I have nor is it the main computer I use,
but I am not buying XP or any other system to upgrade it.
as a user, IE6 is non-issue, it continues to work and display pages for
me, and unless I want to convert to FF on that computer, IE6 vs IE7 vs FF
is a developer issue not a user issue. As developers, it can be made into
an issue for me when pages don’t display correctly, but I am still a customer
of your web site so I would like to be able to see it using IE6 if possible,
at least from that computer anyway.
on my other two computers I use most of the time. I have FF and IE7 so
I try to stay up to date on them. They are running XP so that has not been
a problem, although one of those systems would not take the IE7 update so
after a call to MS support, I got that straightened out.
all in all, I guess you as developers need to decide if you want most of your
customers to be able to come to your site and see it the way you want it to
be displayed. As long as the number of IE6 users is fairly high for whatever
reason, then they are your customers too, only you can determine how you
will treat them.
do websites need to look exactly the same in every browser?. Extended comment available on my site
HA, I love coding for IE6! (my IE visitors (corporate/b2b ) were 52% IE6 last month). I live for those little eureka moments after you’ve spent two hours trying to push some pixels into the right place without making the whole browser blow up. What on earth would I do with all that spare time if cross-browser compatibility was never a problem………
Agreed. Education is the key to it all, but even if the people don’t care you can make some progress. Whenever I visit a relative I try to make sure they have an up to date browser (whatever they use). Just gotta keep fighting the good fight!
IE6 may be the most current Internet Explorer version for Windows 2000 but Firefox 3 is the most current browser for this operating system.
What about developers who keep ie 6, 7 and firefox for testing purposes?
If everyone upgraded to ie 7 it would make my life a lot easier! lol
I suspect that the largest proportion of IE6 users are in corporations who have internal intranet systems or applications that aren’t IE7-compatible.
IE6 has been around since 2001, and had several years all to itself. Until the competition caught up (Firefox), many coders used proprietary IE6 techniques because they didn’t need to worry about anything else. It could take years until these systems are adapted to work with other browsers.
Another big group of IE6 users are web developers themselves. I use IE6 all the time because I know it’ll cause me the most grief. I have IE7 installed in a VM, but a page that works in Firefox and IE6 is highly likely to work in IE7 anyway.
Unfortunately, IE6 is a fact of life and will be for several years. It’s brave to stop supporting IE6 – it’d be like having a shop where you kick out every fourth customer. Some companies can get away with that if their user base is predominantly technical (Basecamp), but that’s not the case for most.
Sadly, I work at a web company and my manager will not upgrade….someone shoot me!
I’m with David Walsh on this one — most of the non-tech people I talk to have no idea what browser they’re using, and unless their IT department assists the upgrade, they just sit on IE6 (contently) without knowing any better. I’d estimate that 15% to be more like 50% in my own experience.
Based on a research done under 180.000 internet visits from The Netherlands and Belgium in June 2008. Here are the results:
54% – IE7
28% – IE6
11% – Firefox 2
03% – Safari
02% – Firefox 3
01% – Opera
01% – Others
IE6 is still the second most used browsers. There is also a category who is used to IE6 and dislikes using IE7.
Here is the same research done in 2007
50% – IE6
35% – IE7
08% – Firefox 2
03% – Safari
02% – Firefox 1,5
01% – Opera
01% – Others
IE6 is definitly loosing market share. In general IE is loosing marketshare to Firefox.
I’m uncertain as to which party is more annoying: those who are actively passive and could care less, or those who are unaware.
We’re forced to use IE6 at my company because our IT person is unaware!
I say scrap the minority: for the percentage of people that don’t have a modern web browser, exclude them. In fact, when they visit a site, and they are using IE6, redirect them to a page with instructions on how to get a better browser (for my values of better).
Someone (maybe me?) should make a site: http://www.EndIE6.com/
It would be a compact one-pager, with instructions (for every major operating system) on how to upgrade your browser to either IE7/8, FF3, or Safari (maybe even Opera…). With appropriate links, photo instructions, and at the top of it all, a brief summary of why they should switch.
This seems drastic, and I expect some flames, but I think in this instance, we as web developers need to think more like big business: force the stragglers to upgrade, those that choose otherwise, abandon.
Of course, this is just a rant. In instances where the user has no control whatsoever (i.e., corporate workstations), there would have to be exceptions. EndIE6.com (or whatever) could be a middle step, where instead of completely diverting them from the site with no possible way to get back, the user would still be allowed to return to the page that sent them there – the point is that they would have at least been give some knowledge.
I’m still at uni, so I do a lot of temporary work here and there, and a lot of the companies I work in still use IE6. You talk to the tech guys, and they hate it, you talk to your colleagues, and their split. Half of them hate it, half of them don’t even know what I’m talking about. The half that hate it install firefox, including me, on their machine, and subsequently get in trouble for it. It all boils down to management not knowing what is best(after all, they aren’t employed for their computer knowledge necessarily), and so any change has to be fought for.
I worked at Jaguar in 2007, and they were only just upgrading office 2000…
Says a lot.
Whenever I design a site for someone, I always tell them to download Firefox straight away if they aren’t already using it.
I found Save the Developers through stumbleupon ages ago and placed the code on my website. It shows a div popup when someone visits using IE6 that urges them to upgrade.
Highly recommend it, just for the sake of educating people.
like others had said before, I think that #4 should be a much greater percentage. Every time I ask someone what browser they’re using I always get either “I’m using Firefox” or “What are you talking about? What’s a browser?” As long as we cater to IE 6, they will have no reason to upgrade.
I agree that there needs to be a set date that we as developers agree to no longer support old browsers. Personally, I am linking to the savethedevelopers.org script on all sites and come January 1st 2009, will drop IE6 altogether.
Some companies (like mine) cannot change as we use a web based application that only works in IE6, so damn annoying. Unfortunately I am not allowed to download anything else.
Hmmm, maybe I should have looked into some of the links from the comments: seems that http://savethedevelopers.org/ has a similar mind set as my last post (though, not as harsh I suppose).
Sorry for being clueless everyone… :P
How about 5. Because they haven’t discovered alternatives like Mozilla Firefox. Firefox for all!
a large part of it will always be the corporate giants. The issue is not so much that they are just slow to change, its that the entire intranets, internal apps that run on the intranet, etc are all built on IE6 and the fear of splosion from an upgrade sends them waiting until they have to.
It blows, but we have to deal with it.
IE6 is a constant pain in the arse. You’re definately righ tthough that as soon as IE6 is off the scene then there will be a whole raft of extra issues caused by the next gernation of web browsers.
I think though in a way its good to have to check css across browers as it kind of promotes a more simplistic designs which i think work better.
I can tell you from personal experience, I loved IE6 (may be because i don’t like change, as mentioned in point 3) and if i would have not been a web developer i would never cared what good IE7 was, as i did not like the new interface at all, i was forced to upgrade by Microsoft’s auto-updater, but by then i had moved to Firefox(thanks to tools it provides to web developers) so i didn’t care.
But i also think that point 2 is far more valid, as people are stuck with IE6, they can’t upgrade and that could also be the reason why big companies are not upgrading to IE7.
There is one more reason (or sub-reason to ‘because they have to’ reason): installation of IE7 requires the Windows Genuine Advantage Tool. And the level of software in some countries is still high. You can avoid having WGAT installed on your computer unless you are trying to install some software which requires it (like IE7).
Not willing to pay for something you don’t like is also a reason for many people not switching to Vista.
There are still some companies that use IE5 because it came with Windows 2000.
I am prepared to bet that IE7 will die before IE6 does – the majority of people who have upgraded to IE7 will surely all upgrade to IE8 fairly soon, whereas those that can’t upgrade from 6 to 7 have no chance of upgrading to IE8!
@Mike: That’s a pretty interesting theory.
I’m all for the “partially” supporting IE6 option or only supporting it if our client base uses the browser.
Well you forgot companies or organisation which have stupid security rules which need to evaluate any new program for years.
I too think the last clause (they don’t know any better) is more significant. People just aren’t aware that there are alternatives or that it’s something they should even consider. For them IE6 is like notepad – it shipped with their OS and it does its job.
I wrote an article a couple of weeks in which I tried to estimate the remaining time span for which IE6 market share will still be relevant for us developers (I came up with around 2.5 – 3 years). If you are interested, check it out
I still have Internet Explorer 6 lying around on one of my computers because IE7 takes too long to start up. If you try to type in a URL and press enter, you have an error page staring at you in your face as though you’ve sinned.
When given a choice, I use Firefox 3 but when browsing sites that only work with IE, I’d rather use IE 6 than IE 7.
Try IE Tab addon for FF3! I bet you’ll newer use any of IE again, unless you are developer ;)
Don’t forget the considerable number of web developers and web development companies around the world who hold on to at least one version of IE6 for testing purposes. Also, I would guess the stand-alone versions, which can run alongside IE7 would also register as part of the percentages.
I have to write CSS for IE6\IE7\FF\SAFARI\OPERA in my work,and IE6 is the most roublesome one,but i find the surfer of my own blog who use IE6 is over 80%…
I agree with a lot of the comments above- people don’t know much about browsers. Some think a browser is the same as the internet, some think it’s Microsoft. The lack of education on net jargon is an issue for the older audience, which are a lot of people.
We just need to get the word out there…
There is no real reason to switch to IE7, unless the user wants to visit russian or other untrustable porn or warez sites.
From a developer view they only repaired a few CSS bugs, which of I only a few met, but I could completely ignore those with a simple researching or just knowing the standards and using them wisely.
The biggest problem in IE6 was not solved, that is the JS engine has the same bugs in IE7, so it’s clueless to talk about the improvements of IE7.
With a very few IE6 css hacks (1-2 max. per site, mostly transparent png problems) you can achieve 99% exact look in IE6/IE7/FF2/FF3/Opera 9 with the same style sheets, you only have to use your brain. Don’t you believe that? Go and learn the standards. And I’m not talking about Web 2.0 sites where simplicity is trend, I learned my job back in the Web 1.0 era, where more complex sites used to be.
I think that many web developers are brainless, for example this live comment preview below is completely useless, for it’s not a real live preview, you could use the same font in this editor window and you’d have the same look and feel. It just slows down the browser, and there are much advanced editors which ones can make the text bold and italic etc. just in the editor.
The same goes for CSS and HTML, if you keep it simple, you don’t have to hack at all.
Thatswhy there is no reason to switch to IE7. Do you want tabs? Use Maxthon.
Yeah, really!!? Try IE6 to zoom on websites with a smallest font size ever possible or with giant ones! “… russian or other untrustable porn or warez sites.” – blah-blah-blah :)
they cant access my site who use ie6 lol
For companies with IE7 incompatible intranet: IE6 + Firefox (default browser) + “IE Tab” add-on (Firefox automatically switch to IE6 rendering engine on configured sites, “Always render using embedded IE” option).
As long as IE6 is still being used we will have to design for it as well. Sadly, some clients do not know which browser is better and they only use what they have installed.
Just imagine a potential client trying to access your online portfolio and get a “This website is not available for IE6” message. He will look for another designer instead of try it in a different browser.
Besides, as said in some comments above, the “hacks” needed to get a website looking fine in IE6 are not usually too many. :P
I work as a Network Administrator, and agree with some of the other posts. I think #1 and #4 are the big ones. My company’s software only runs in IE, and every time a new version comes out our developers spend many hours developing and testing our product. Also, it’s a beast to roll out to so many users. I personally think #4 is a larger number due to so many computer illiterate people (look at the numbers of people who still browse in 800×600 resolutions and smaller.) Those are my two cents.
I do have one question for all
I have had to go back to IE6 as i can not get IE7 running in a way that will not crash when a tab or a window is closed
I have had an IT expert do the same and get the same results.
IE7 seems very unstable still so if you would all like people to use it when do you think IE7 will work right?
If it will not work right what else could i use in a work enviroment?
Well, if they will not support IE6 – somebody will. As long as there is demand for it:
We, as developers, would like IE6 to go away. But 25% is difficult to ignore.
I’m on Windows 2000, and I use the most updated version of Mozilla Firefox.
Even at work you have a choice. You can easily run Firefox off a usb stick using portable apps.
Windows marketing strategy = to make people feel afraid and helpless when they use computers (security problems, non-compliant browsers, endless ad-ware and update notices). Scared sick by their buggy and opaque Windows machines, people become all the more unwilling to change.
I use IE6 and I have no reason to switch, it does everything that I need it to do. I don’t like tabbed browsing and I can live without any of the extra crap or problems that can come with other browsers. (heard of cases where people have lost their favorites several times over on firefox 2 was it, I know people with thousands of favorites that that would of been a major catastrophe for- while there’s no worry of such a thing with IE6. I’m not basing my dislike of other browsers just from this, just making an example). I don’t like the interface of any of the other browsers, I’m used to IE6 and it gets the job done for me effeciently. Even if one or two websites that I near never go to could look a slight bit better with a different browser, it’s certainly not going to kill me or is enough of a reason to upgrade to a different browser/version. I’m both a website developer and a game developer, as many of you may know that there’s websites such as game websites that only support running from IE. They’ve shown no sign of stopping that, and I myself also intend to use that method- people are too racist against IE/IE6. The well informed people browse how they like to, it may make for a bit more work for web developers for people who browse on older versions of stuff- but it all comes down to what people want/don’t want to use. Eventually most people will switch, but there will still be the majority that won’t even if it means losing access to some websites in the far enough future (which main websites won’t do). Cutting off support means cutting off customers and visitors, it’s like telling everyone to switch to vista because for example if it was easier to code for. I don’t have any intention of switching from windows XP, I know many people also like that that don’t like vista. Game developement wise my games take a major hit speed wise on vista, while a computer with considerably lower specifications and xp can run them more then 2-3x as fast as compared to the vista computer.
I’m someone who uses older versions of many software because it gets the job done and there’s no worry of new problems, many of you know that newer isn’t always better. That’s also why there’s websites like http://www.oldversion.com, since many people don’t like new versions of software- wether they have new features and are more capable or not. You may be able to get the un-informed people to switch browsers, but for the informed and very informed people that don’t switch it’s like trying to send the earth hurtling into the sun- you’re not going to be able to do it no matter how hard you try.
For security reasons, most company only provide their employees with limit access accounts to access their PCs with Windows XP. And because XP cannot run its automated windows update on limited access, their PCs never get updated!!! Imaging all the security flaws that are unfixed, not just IE6 flaws but XP flaws!
IE6 is the biggest pain in my life. The only possible reason for people not being able to upgrade their browser to IE7 is that they have an illegal copy of Windows which does not pass validation when attempting to download it. Although I do get sick of the limitations of IE6 from a designers point of view, as mentioned it does equate to 25% of market share (yuck) so we have to take this into serious consideration unfortunately. I long for the day when IE6 is obsolete! I hope the big boys of the computer world make this happen.
Maybe Microsoft should just realise they have enough money and give IE7 out as a ‘free’ software update even for the pirates of this world?
I think the percentage who doesn’t know is much larger.
Some people ‘start up Internet’ when they mean they go to Google.
Some people ‘start up Internet’ when they start Internet Explorer.
Some people ‘start up Internet’ when they stick a modem cable into their computer.
Part of the “dislike change” crowd is because Microsoft changed the UI in IE7 so drastically that many people simply can’t function with IE7. I’ve seen countless souls who have learned to use IE6, then when faced with IE7, ask “where’s the Home button?”.
I still use IE6 on XP simply because it works – in my experience, as soon as you upgrade to the latest anything it usually means issues and problems. When something finally works well on Windows, I just leave well alone. Other than tabbing, who the h*ell cares about whether my IE is a number 6 or 7? My security/firewall covers risks. (My old Win2000 was really stable, but then had XP on the next machine – guess what; problems).
Try developing a website, IE6 does not work well. Twice as many hours were put into websites to make them work with that ancient piece of shit, all so people like YOU don’t have to upgrade. For shame conservative. Get with it, or get out of it.
SUP HOMIES GUESS WHAT, I WILL UZE IE6 TILL THA COWS COME HOME, ID ONT CARE ABOUT ANY UPGRADEZ MO-FOZ, DOWN WITH THE WORLD SYSTEM DARK ORDERS, CRACKERZ OWN THE WORLD HAHA
Because baby boomers are tards. When they die we’ll all be better off on the web.
alert(‘You are using Internet Explorer. Get a real browser. ‘);
alert(‘You will now be redirected to browsehappy.com. ‘);
window.location = “http://browsehappy.com/”;
That comment looked totally different in the preview.