As you may or may not know, there are a number of web-browsers available, all of which have evolved through various versions. What’s a web-browser? – it’s the program/software you’re using right now to look at this web page…
Each and every different web-browser (or “browser” for short) has it’s own look and feel, features, quirks and bugs – that’s just the nature of software. The (generally) most important/popular browsers available at the time of writing are Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari and Opera (pretty much in that order).
From both a web-developer’s and a users standpoint, by far the poorest browser in regular use today is Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). There are a number of reasons for this, in essence, IE6 is roughly 8 years old now and hasn’t really been updated much (aside from some security updates) since it was released. This means that IE6 is woefully behind the times, just think back to the computer you were using 8 years ago and how the web has changed in that time!
The internet is poised on the edge of a step-change in technology with the introduction of the latest version of the most popular, fundamental programming language on the web, HTML – which will shortly be updated to version 5. IE6 does not and will not support HTML 5 and in fact lacks support for a number of current key technologies already in use, meaning that awkward, time-consuming workarounds have become extremely common.
Weblator, along with many other developers and large organisation such as Google are attempting to encourage web users to update to a modern browser, be it Internet Explorer 8, Firefox, Safari or Opera, any modern browser offers a massive improvement over IE6. The reasons for this are twofold, firstly, the web must be able to move on to HTML 5 as it offers much richer functionality than ever before, secondly the overhead of supporting IE6 from a developers standpoint may be as much as 30%. Your bills for website development could reduce by a significant factor!
From now onwards (unless our customer decides otherwise), websites we develop will show a message to IE6 (and older) users informing them that their browser is not supported and offering them links to alternative, modern, free browsers which are supported.
We of course realise that some of our customers will need or want to maintain IE6 support, so if we can’t persuade you otherwise, we’ll oblige and provide IE6 support, though this may be at an increased cost and development time as IE6 support simply takes longer.
We hope you’ll understand our wish for the Internet to become a better place and we’d love our customers to get onboard and do their bit. If you’d like to read any further information, here are some good links:
- Google have dropped support for IE6
- Peter-Paul Koch (an advisor to many key companies such as Microsoft, Google and Mozilla) explains his thoughts on support for IE6
- UsabilityPost’s thoughts on IE6 support
- An independent movement to encourage dropping support for IE6
We’ll leave you with a quote from Tom Watson MP who is campaigning for UK Government departments to update their web browsers from IE6:
“I feel sorry for the thousands of civil servants using the Austin Allegro of web browsers when they can have newer, faster alternatives…” Tom Watson MP