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Why Web Developers Hate Internet Explorer 6: IE 666- the Devil

  • You may have heard web developers hating on Internet Explorer 6, but it's not just web geeks. It's also web designers, and even the big companies like Google, Youtube and Apple, who have have said a flat out 'No!' to supporting IE6.

    The fact is, IE6 is a 10 year old piece of software that is hindering the evolution of the web and threatening the security of it's users. IE6 also costs web companies large amounts of money each year in efforts to make up for it's lack of compliance for web standards. There are so many respected alternatives to IE6; Internet Explorer 9, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera, all which out perform in speed, safety and usability features. Its time for IE6 to be buried, a fact supported by Microsoft, who no longer support the browser with updates. IE6's life cycle is over and it is time to us to enjoy the modern web.

    Today's Usage Statistics of Internet Explorer

    In 2004,  95% of web surfers were using IE6. As of 2010 the statistic is between 4% - 9% world wide. But in China, its different story, at close to 59% usage. This means if your website's focus is on Chinese traffic, unfortunately your web developer must consider IE6.

    Web Developers and Web Designers

    IE6 comes with lots of bugs, and disobeys lots of web standards. The result is that web pages are often incorrectly rendered in IE6 and sometime very messy in their layout, which then requires many hours of debugging by the developer specially for IE6. This can cause websites to become so bloated with un necessary code, irrelevant to web standards, that loading speeds increase.

    As a result of IE6's disregard for web standards, designers have for the past 5years been seriously limiting their designs and interfaces of web applications to allow for IE6's 'dragging of it's feet'. Meanwhile, designers and developers are chopping at the bit waiting for IE6 to die because they want to design modern sites and web experiences.

    Being Phased Out by the Bigger Companies

    The companies with momentum on the web are dropping IE6 from their concerns. Some companies choose to limit their services, some say a flat out 'come back when you have updated your browser'. When the list of these companies includes Apple, Google, Youtube and Facebook, its obvious that the contempt for IE spread further than just the IT department at a small web development company.

    Facebook shocked everyone by providing a decidedly inferior experience for IE6 users, bluntly telling them why and also offering browser upgrade links. Google followed and Rajen Sheth commented "The web has evolved in the last ten years, from simple text pages to rich, interactive applications including video and voice..", IE6 needs to be put to rest.

    Microsoft ends life cyle of IE6

    This year Microsoft itself let go of IE6. It is no longer supported by updates, so it is no longer safe with the evolution of the web viruses attacks.

    Dated software from dated hardware

    IE6 flat out cant offer the same web experiences as modern browsers. Since 2001 computers have changed, so have our average time spent on the web. Its time for the software to follow the hardware. There are three newer releases of IE available IE 7, 8 & 9, but in an effort to match your browser to your computer and the current web, keeping Internet Explorer up to date with the latest version is the only valid option. 

    Security threats

    Google threatened to withdraw from the Chinese market following the "sophisticated and targeted" attacks, which it said originated in China.Hackers used a flaw in Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) browser to target the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

    Round up of who hates it and why;

    • Web Designers; limits their designs and interfaces due to it's incorrect rendering or lack of ability.
    • Web Developers; requires hours and hours of debugging and custom coding to  work around it's flaws & limitations.
    • Big Companies Apple etc; slowing and hindering the evolution of the web.
    • Web Surfers; No browser tabs, not safe and no longer supported by Microsoft.
    • Clients; cost for IE6 custom coding is often passed on in the final bill for a website.

    Final Word

    IE6 hinders web designers and developers with it's limitations and bugs. It is time for IE6  to stand down and let modern browsers take over and the internet freely evolve. Its not just web developers and designer who hate IE6's persistence, its larger players like 'Google' also, but the 'little guys' feel its effect everyday in the form of excess time and cost to cater for it's flaws. The best solution for dealing with Internet Explorer 6 is to offer 'upgrade Internet Explorer' links or if your visitors reside in China,  display a less-enhanced web experience.

    Further articles

    The web is full of articles regarding IE6's resilience, some are very amusing, here are a few informative ones;