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IE6 usage is dropping like a stone

Monday, 30 April 2007 browsers ie6 ie7 microsoft ie

Six years old and still causing plenty of headaches for webdevelopers, IE6 represents everything that is bad and wrong with Microsoft… But there is hope! Figures show that IE6 usage is dropping right off, really much faster than could be expected.

On November 1st 2006, Microsoft started pushing out IE7 as a critical update.

There was wide speculation from all sides on what this might do to the browser landscape but including this months figures into the equation, I have some exciting news.

IE7 is growing FAST!

That’s right with the first 20 days of this month taken into account, I’ve had more visits from IE7 this month than IE6!

So Microsoft wins again… What’s good about that?

If this growth carries on like this until IE6 is taking up less than 5%, you can responsibly start to reduce how much you concentrate on that browser.

Why is designing a website so hard?

When I design things for myself, I have 7 browser versions in mind: Firefox 1&2, IE 6&7, Opera, Safari and Konqueror. Why is designing a website so hard? Why won’t they all just make sure their rendering engine outputs the same jazz or not release it?

Anyway, the death of IE6 means a few things:

CSS progress. As designers, we’ve had to forgo all the beautiful things that CSS can do, in favour of what the oldest popular browser in our demographic will do. It’s really quite depressing at times. IE6 kicking the bucket means we can get on with things and although IE7 is by no means up-to-date, the progress will be appreciated from this developer, for one.

RSS availability. While it’s still a helpful feature, keeping people updated via email updates is a dog. Users don’t want to give you their information because of spammers and you don’t really want to collect their information unless you’re a spammer (or other marketing type) because of the development time so it’s really a lose-lose situation. IE7 supports RSS out-the-box so it should be increasingly possible to ask people to subscribe to your RSS feed and them being able to do so without asking “What’s RSS?”

JavaScript improvements. For one they’ve dumped the ActiveX XMLHTTP object in favour of a native scripting version. This means you can still run AJAX requests on people who (quite rightly) block ActiveX.

So what?

That’s the thing. Are we going to be stuck with IE7 for 5 years or are Microsoft going to let the fabled IE team work on the browser around the year and support them in making it better?

More importantly, are we going to see future versions pushed out over Windows Update as super-high-you-have-no-choice-in-the-matter-priority updates? Or are they going to languish to the bottom and not get installed by 30% of users?

If the figures carry on like they have been, we’ll see the death of IE6 before the year is out. 2-3 months to be more precise. It’s a nice dream, if nothing else.