Die IE6, die!

By crisp on Tuesday 9 February 2010 02:03 - Comments (21)
Categories: Browsers, Tweakers.net, Views: 9.741

The Dutch nowadays are a conservative kind of people; they don't like to stick out their necks when it comes to radical changes. They much rather prefer to keep everything as it was. But when a greater power tells them to jump, the Dutch will gladly ask "how high?"

So only when Google decides to stop support for IE6 it starts to get noticed. That's a lot more attention than we got when we announced the same last year.
Why IE6 is bad
So why is this important? Well, first of all, IE6 is a 9-year-old browser; an olds-mobile so to speak. It's a car that cannot do more than 40MpH on a highway, doesn't have seatbelts or airbags and breaks down every 20 miles because of maintenance neglect.

Alternative webbrowsers such as Firefox, Opera, Safari and Google Chrome have set the 'new' standard with regards to webdevelopment; a standard that is based on real open standards as recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium. Following these recommendations will ensure that webcontent is accessible to everyone and will remain so for the future. Even Microsoft has acknowledged this and greatly improved compliance to these standards in Internet Explorer versions 7 and 8.

Internet Explorer 6 pre-dates this movement and is in a large degree in-compliant with these webstandards. This means that websites or webapplications built to adhere to the current standards require special modifications in order to 'work' in IE6. This means that extra time has to be spent to accommodate this old browser, which of course costs extra money; even up to 10% of the total budget. With the marketshare of IE6 sharply declining this simply isn't rewarding anymore which explains why Google, but also Tweakers.net already dropped the support for IE6.
Not anti-IE6
Note that this doesn't mean that Google's webapplications or Tweakers.net isn't usable anymore to IE6-users; it merely means that new functions may break or display differently. It's a slow degradation, like watching stale bread grow mould.

Unfortunately there still is a large group of users that don't have any choice in what browser to use to access the internet; those are the users that are victim of large corporations' inability to technically advance. Those corporations are stuck with intranet applications that require IE6 to function.

So should we accomodate for those users? Sure, if they are paying customers and don't mind paying extra for IE6-support. In all other cases we probably should not feel sorry for them since hanging on to IE6 is probably already costing these companies more than when they would upgrade. Some companies just don't realise that yet.
Cost of old platforms
Companies that are using IE6-based applications have been lucky since IE6 has proved to be a stable platform for many years, far more years than the average software lifecycle. The fact that Microsoft has supported this platform for so long (and still supports it) has undoubtedly saved a lot of money.

On the other hand however, with a platform being 9 years old, you can hardly expect software depending on such platform to be efficient compared to modern software. I have no doubt that people, being more acquainted with modern browsers at home, are far less productive when they have to work with older software at work.

It may seem to be good that employees cannot use YouTube anymore using IE6, but the internet as a whole will rapidly be declining for IE6-users and eventually this will cause problems. Companies that are not yet considering upgrading their company-wide browser away from IE6 will suffer from this.
Last call
So maybe, as a company, you can consider this as a last call. With maybe just a couple months to spare before the web starts to disintegrate for IE6. This really is the end; just put IE6 in a coffin and bury it somewhere, or burn it and scatter the ashes over sea. I don't care, as long as I don't have to be reminded to it anymore. Please.

Volgende: The MS browser ballot page analyzed 03-'10 The MS browser ballot page analyzed
Volgende: Clientside performance no priority for Dutch websites 01-'10 Clientside performance no priority for Dutch websites


By Tweakers user RobIII, Tuesday 9 February 2010 02:35

Well done d:)b I wholehartedly agree. You beat me to it; I had this on my to-do list to blog about some time. So here's a short recap of what I was going to blog about, but edited to fit with your blogitem.

Here's a technique I've recently used to help these kind of users.
  1. Check the user-agent server side for occurence of "MSIE" versions below 7. I only do this as to avoid serving extra markup to everyone else (i.e. crawlers for search engines and people using a decent browser). Maybe some 'tampered with' user-agent strings trigger (or avoid) the extra markup but I'll take my chances on that one.
  2. When step 1 is triggered some extra markup is served:

<!--[if lt IE 7]>
<script type="text/javascript">function DisableBrowserWarning() {document.getElementById('browserwarning').style.display='none';var t=new Date();t.setTime(t.getTime());var e=new Date(t.getTime() + (30 * 1000 * 60 * 60 * 24));document.cookie='nbw=1;expires=' + e.toGMTString() + ';domain=mydomain.com;path=/';}</script>
<div id="browserwarning"><input type="submit" value="Dit bericht verbergen" onclick="return DisableBrowserWarning();"><p>Het lijkt er op dat u deze site bekijkt met een verouderde versie van Internet Explorer. Support voor deze webbrowser zal binnenkort op grote schaal uitgefaseerd worden. Voor veiliger en betrouwbaar browsen adviseren we om uw browser te upgraden naar de recentste versie van &eacute;&eacute;n van onderstaande browsers. Maakt uw systeem deel uit van een (bedrijfs)netwerk neem dan contact op met uw systeembeheerder.</p><ul><li class="ie"><a href="http://www.microsoft.com/ie/">Internet Explorer</a></li><li class="firefox"><a href="http://www.getfirefox.com">Firefox</a></li><li class="chrome"><a href="http://www.google.com/chrome/">Chrome</a></li><li class="opera"><a href="http://www.opera.com/">Opera</a></li><li class="safari"><a href="http://www.apple.com/safari/">Safari</a></li></ul></div>

This, along with some CSS, displays a nice 'warning label' at the top of the site as you can see in this screenshot.

Because of the conditional HTML-comment, which acts as a second layer of verification, the notice is only shown to users using IE versions below version 7. Should the server-side user-agent check return a false positive this should ensure the notice isn't displayed.

The tiny javascript allows users to "ignore" the notice for 30 days (which is stored in a cookie). The server-side output of the notice is disabled when the cookie was found in the request.

Because this site has a, relatively, high percentage of 'corporate IE6 users', the notice makes sure that users are reminded that they may not be in a position to upgrade but can contact the sysadmin to inquery about this issue. Also the notice doesn't 'flame' IE6 nor does it cripple the user experience (...more than needed).

I don't have my IE6 VM at hand at the moment but if I recall correctly T.net uses a similar technique for warning IE6 users (and has been using it for some time as crisp mentions). A screenshot can be found here :Y)

My incentive was indeed the 'large scale drop of support for IE6'. When Google, Youtube (and T.net :P ) start dropping IE6 support I think it's safe to join in and give it some momentum. I also agree that this doesn't (have to) mean that IE6 can't be used anymore or that you can quit providing fallback methods for graceful degradation (as I'm sure crisp will agree). All it means is that sites may not render pixel-perfect or some 'modern' techniques might fail (but should be accessible via alternative ways or fallback methods). Many sites suggest more aggressive means of blocking IE6 such as putting up a placeholder and denying access to the site alltogether. This not only means you might lose potential customers or visitors, it also means you are enforcing your will on people that might not be in a position to do something about it. Keep it friendly; spread the word. Don't punch your visitors in the face for being stuck with a legacy browser.

[Comment edited on Tuesday 9 February 2010 03:09]

By Tweakers user SirBlade, Tuesday 9 February 2010 05:43

As long as sites needed for corperate use are still working ok with IE6, companies will not invest in a newer browser. The more other sites that become imcompatible with IE6, the better for them, it will stop their employees wasting time on gmail/t.net/facebook/whatever. If we want to do a major change like a browser upgrade, we'll need to make a businesscase, with the pro and cons and costs. As long as business isnt impacted, there will be no funds for an upgrade.

By Tweakers user i-chat, Tuesday 9 February 2010 07:07

@SirBlade, you are so wrong, as it is allready proven that 'employees work faster after a a so called microbreak, in a test <need to find link> it was stated that production is higher of those ocasional reading private email or take other 'computer related brake (like playing silly games for a few minutes)

By Tweakers user Blokker_1999, Tuesday 9 February 2010 07:30

Here at work we are stuck with IE6. And at such times i am gratefull that a browser like Firefox does not require installation. Just drop the directory on the drive and run the exe. And it comes with additional extras, like being able to change the NTLM credentials settings :) .

By Tweakers user Snake, Tuesday 9 February 2010 07:56

@RobIII: Care to share that CSS?

By Tweakers user crisp, Tuesday 9 February 2010 08:17

If we want to do a major change like a browser upgrade, we'll need to make a businesscase, with the pro and cons and costs.
Then by all means do so! My guess is that the loss in productivity of employees having to use old software on an old (and slow) platform is already costing more money in the long-term than an upgrade (especially given the fact that the old software is already ecomomically depreciated long time ago).

By Tweakers user Faust, Tuesday 9 February 2010 08:34

come on, don't be a hater, ie6 works fine.
this ms-hate has got to stop!

By Tweakers user Tyrian, Tuesday 9 February 2010 08:52

IE6 onveilig? Oude software is niet per definitie onveilig. Ik heb een VM met Windows 98 SE en IE6 en ik begin het idee te krijgen dat dit veiliger is dan IE8 op XP. Waarom? Omdat alle malware tegenwoordig minimaal Windows 2000 vereist. Win98+IE6 is simpelweg een te kleine doelgroep om nog virus/malware rommel voor te schrijven. En de oude bugs die IE6 op Windows 98 nog kwetsbaar maakten zijn inmiddels wel gepatched.

Los van het bovenstaande raad ik Windows XP (en hoger) gebruikers natuurlijk aan om IE te updaten. De browsertechniek en beveiliging hebben sinds IE6 een flinke ontwikkeling doorgemaakt die je niet wilt missen. Ik gebruik zelf trouwens FFx3.6 op WinVista.

By Tweakers user RobIII, Tuesday 9 February 2010 09:03

@Snake: sure:
Cascading Stylesheet:
#browserwarning {
 background : #feffcf url('/img/browser_warning.gif') 10px 10px no-repeat;
 text-align : left;
 position : absolute;
 top : 0;
 left : 0;
 padding : 0 10px 0 50px;
 background-color : #feffcf;
 border-bottom : 1px solid #d85d01;

#browserwarning input {
 float : right;
 margin-top : 10px;

#browserwarning ul {
 overflow : auto;
 list-style-type : none;
 padding : 0;
 margin-left : 0;

#browserwarning ul li {
 background-image: url('/img/browsers.gif');
 background-repeat: no-repeat;
 float : left;
 padding : 5px 0 0 30px;
 height : 19px;
 margin-left : 20px;


#browserwarning li.firefox {background-position: 0 -24px;}
#browserwarning li.chrome {background-position: 0 -48px;}
#browserwarning li.opera {background-position: 0 -72px;}
#browserwarning li.safari {background-position: 0 -96px;}

#browserwarning a {
 color : #d85d01;

You'll need two images: browsers.gif and browser_warning.gif.

@Faust: Does it really make you feel awesome when posting the opposite of what a blog is about every single time? Grow up :|

IE6 onveilig? Oude software is niet per definitie onveilig.
Oude software is niet per definitie onveilig; dat wordt ook nergens beweerd. Maar IE6 heeft vaak genoeg bewezen wél onveilig te zijn. Des te meer tegenwoordig omdat support langzaamaan zal uitsterven. Vanaf dat moment ben je helemaal "on your own". En terecht. Ik neem mijn hoedje af voor MS voor het feit dat ze dat gedrocht überhaupt zo lang gesupport hebben :P

[Comment edited on Tuesday 9 February 2010 09:15]

By Tweakers user YopY, Tuesday 9 February 2010 09:55

http://wijstoppenook.nl/nl/ has a nice IE6 warning too (it's at the bottom somewhere). It's also got a complete page blocker, but that might not be all that awesome ;).

We've had a feature request to add a warning for IE6 in our issue tracker for a while, and should get to it soon. I've forwarded this and that to my colleagues, maybe we'll actually implement this soon.

By Tweakers user bouncing_tom, Tuesday 9 February 2010 10:02

Loving the old car analogue, I always had trouble explaining people WHY IE6 is so hard to support for web developers these days. But indeed, the fact that it's a car that's going 40 on a high way holding back the rest of the modern cars is a great way to explain people that modernisation is a good thing!

By Tweakers user Pelle, Tuesday 9 February 2010 10:12

Sinds vorig jaar offereren wij alleen nog maar websites die gegarandeerd werken in IE7+, FF2+ en Safari 2+. Er zijn echter een aantal klanten (met name in de zakelijke dienstverlening) die zelf ook weer te maken hebben met doelgroepen die IE6 gebruiken. Sommige van de websites voor die klanten hebben > 35% IE6 gebruikers. Dat kunnen zij niet negeren, en wij dus ook niet.

Als wij zeggen "we supporten IE6 niet" dan zegt onze klant "we zoeken wel iemand anders".

Het liefst zou ik de systeembeheerders van bedrijven die nog standaard IE6 gebruiken persoonlijk de nek omdraaien. Maar goed, dat is ook weer zo rigoreus :+
We hebben er daarom ook voor gekozen om IE6 voor een meerprijs te blijven ondersteunen. Klant blij, wij blij. Hét nadeel aan deze situatie is echter wel dat op deze manier de impasse in stand wordt gehouden.

By David Hund, Tuesday 9 February 2010 11:38

Het 'ondersteunen van browsers' vind ik een beetje een gekke gedachte. Websites bouw je voor mensen, niet voor browsers. Dat wil uiteraard niet zeggen dat websites er overal hetzelfde uit moeten zien! Juist niet. 'Progressive enhancement' dus.

De content van websites die zijn gebouwd op webstandaarden is, als het goed is, prima toegankelijk in IE6. Wat klanten/bedrijven wel moeten beseffen is dat het waanzin is om te vereisen dat hun website er in alle browsers exact hetzelfde uitziet.

Uiteraard ben ik me bewust van bepaalde 'corporate' omgevingen. Veel is gewoonweg politiek. Natuurlijk kan het helaas vaak niet anders dan dat we als web werkers daarin ook IE6 'pixel-perfect' moeten zien te krijgen, maar het lijkt me wel onze taak om ook onze klanten/bazen daarin te helpen om het anders te gaan zien.

PS: op http://browserupgrade.info vindt je ook een mooie "upgrade notice". Zelf nog verder te configureren (taal, voorkeur browser, etc).

By Tweakers user Kerberos84, Tuesday 9 February 2010 13:22

If M$ suddenly decided to stop supporting Windows XP, the world would be so mad... Still, like IE6, XP is almost 9yrs old, and not very superstable (my opinion, don't shoot me) and there have been 2 newer OSses allready (ok, 1,5 OSses...) Strange how it is that a browser is natural to renew, and that people think "ow yeah, we need newer browser, it's sooooo old..." but when it comes to XP, people don't feel the same...

BTW, NOT a M$ trasher, I love (really love) Windows Se7en... I just don't like old software, except for Prince of Persia, Tetris, Lemmings, Afterburner, Dungeon Keeper, etc...

By Oboema, Tuesday 9 February 2010 13:25

Leuk verhaal en als webdeveloper ben ik er mee eens, maar helaas zullen bedrijven er minder mee eens zijn. Blijkbaar zijn er applicaties de wereld in geholpen die alleen werken onder IE6. Zolang er dit soort idiote applicaties bestaan, zal ook IE6 blijven bestaan en, helaas-pindakaas, zullen we het on-ding ook moeten blijven ondersteunen.

By Tweakers user Elijan9, Tuesday 9 February 2010 14:15

As long as websites support Firefox, everything is fine by me... For Internet Eplorer I am still using IE6, I only use it once in a while because some webdesigners just cannot program and there site is not working in FF and is still important enough. And for WindowsUpdate I need an IE browser, might as well be IE6. IE7 and IE8 are both dragons, I'd rather run IE5.5 if that is any better ;)

I am afraid however, that some of the webdesigners dropping IE6 support never invested nor care to invest one bit of effort to support FF/Safari/Chrome at all...

By Tweakers user WeeJeWel, Tuesday 9 February 2010 16:11

En waarom niet de middenweg, minder fraaie functionaliteit voor IE6 maar alleen de core? Leuke effectjes waar deze developers van houden boeit de gebruikers toch niet.

Beetje laf, noem je dan ook geen webdeveloper ;)

By Rob, Tuesday 9 February 2010 16:52

People like faust, above, are not technically knowledgeable to understand the point. He probably thinks IE8 is an advanced browser, too.

By Tweakers user RobIII, Tuesday 9 February 2010 17:21

Faust likes to troll. That's all ;)

IE8 is, when compared to IE6 at least, an 'advanced browser'. It sure beats the hell out of IE6, but you won't hear me say it could beat any other 'modern' browser.

[Comment edited on Tuesday 9 February 2010 17:23]

By Tweakers user crisp, Tuesday 9 February 2010 20:48

@David Hund:
Het 'ondersteunen van browsers' vind ik een beetje een gekke gedachte. Websites bouw je voor mensen, niet voor browsers. Dat wil uiteraard niet zeggen dat websites er overal hetzelfde uit moeten zien! Juist niet. 'Progressive enhancement' dus.
In een perfecte wereld zou dat kloppen, echter gebruiken die mensen weer bepaalde browsers, en sommige browsers hebben toch echt een specifieke behandeling nodig om de website ueberhaupt funcitoneel te laten zijn (en dan met name IE6, maar ook IE7 en IE8 bakken er soms nog een potje van. CSS ondersteuning is dan wel verbeterd maar op andere vlakken blijft IE een zorgenkindje).

En waarom niet de middenweg, minder fraaie functionaliteit voor IE6 maar alleen de core? Leuke effectjes waar deze developers van houden boeit de gebruikers toch niet.
Die middenweg houden we hier bij Tweakers.net al een tijdje aan hoor, we willen immers ook niet dat de belangrijkste delen van onze site compleet ontoegankelijk worden voor bijvoorbeeld IE6. Voor IE6 houd het daarmee echter wel op.

Andere voorbeelden zijn het gebruik van o.a. box-shadow en border-radius (niet ondersteund in IE8) en local storage (niet ondersteund in IE7).

By Tweakers user DvE, Wednesday 10 February 2010 06:45

It's probably been said before, but could you please change your background color.
It's not a pretty picture in the morning on a 24" panel with my browser fullscreen. In other words: IT HURTS (just like IE6)

Comments are closed