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IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8)

One of the trending topics on Twitter currently is “IE6 Must Die“, which are mainly retweets to a blog post entitled “IE6 Must Die for the Web to Move On“. This is certainly true, IE6 has many rendering bugs and lacks support for so many things that it is simply a nightmare to work with. […]

iedestroyOne of the trending topics on Twitter currently is “IE6 Must Die“, which are mainly retweets to a blog post entitled “IE6 Must Die for the Web to Move On“. This is certainly true, IE6 has many rendering bugs and lacks support for so many things that it is simply a nightmare to work with. The amount of time and money wasted in supporting this browser across the web is staggering.

In fact a few months ago the New Media department decided to drop support for IE6 on all future websites we create. The last website we built with full IE6 support was the new ArtsConnectEd, mainly because teachers tend to have little say in what browsers they can use on school computers. However, moving forward we’re phasing out support for IE6. It simply costs us too much time and resources for the dwindling number of users it has on our sites (currently under 10%, which is down 45% from last year and falling fast). We’re not alone, many other sites are doing this as well.

However calling for the killing of IE6 ignores a bit of history as well as new problems to come. There was a time not so long ago when all web developers wanted to be using IE6. The goal back then was to kill off IE5. You see, IE5 had an incorrect box model. Padding and margins were included in a boxes width and height instead of adding to it like in standards compliant browsers.

This caused all sorts of layout errors, and meant hacks (like the Simplified Box Model Hack) had to be used to get content to align correctly. These hacks were so widely used that Apple was going to allow them to be used in the first version of Safari until I convinced Dave Hyatt (lead Safari dev) to take out support for it. IE6 fixed this bug and everyone was happy (for a while anyway).

Going back further, IE5, even with its broken box model, was at one time the browser of choice back when IE4 was killing Javascript programmers because it didn’t support document.getElementById(). IE4 only supported the proprietary document.all leading to a horrible fracturing of Javascript, whereas IE5 added in the JS standard we still use today. Before people embraced IE5, cross platform JS on the web was almost non-existent, a fact I attempted to rectify by building my Assembler site in 1999.

The reason I bring this up is because we have a history of this behavior with regards to IE. We yearn for the more modern versions, only to end up hating those same versions later on. This will not change with the death of IE6. Soon, it will be IE7 that we are trashing, and then IE8 will be the bane of our existence.

This only becomes more clear as we move to HTML5. IE8 doesn’t support it, nor does it support any CSS3. While IE8 does support many of the older standards it had been ignoring for so long, having just recently been released it is already out of date. All of the other browsers do support these advanced web technologies, but IE is the lone browser to ignore them. Once again IE is two steps behind where the web is going, and severely limits our ability to push web technology forward to everyone for many years to come.

So while we celebrate the death of IE6, let us not forget that there will be a new thorn in our side to take its place in short order. IE7, you’re next.

  • pmichaud says:

    I thought this was link bait, but he makes a compelling argument.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • warfangle says:

    He does, but fuchsia background colors on :hover makes it aggravating to read. Thank goodness for being able to disable stylesheets..

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • 9oliYQjP says:

    I recently prototyped a site using CSS that only Safari 3+ and FireFox 3+ could understand. I never loaded IE up once while doing it. Boy was it a pleasure being able to have a CSS stylesheet declare rounded borders with one declaration. The problem with supporting IE at all is that so few (almost none) of the CSS functionality that eliminates hacks we’ve been working with are available. Even IE8 isn’t enough. So choosing to support IE at all means intentionally refusing to adopt features supported by Safari and FireFox. That is, unless you want an inconsistent experience for your users.But why do we have to provide a perfectly consistent experience between desktop browsers?I’m starting to think that this is precisely what we should do to force MS to get with the times. Let your site degrade for IE in ways that do not break core functionality or fundamental design requirements. When users start figuring out that they can’t see a prettier version of NYTimes because IE doesn’t support @font-face, rounded corners, CSS transformations, and other advanced CSS functionality, many will decide to switch.

    The difference between this approach now and how it was implemented in the 90s during the Netscape/IE wars, is that it’s a best practice to degrade gracefully but retain important functionality now. The criticism of this strategy back then is that many sites simply did not work at all in one browser or the other. That would be unacceptable.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • Elessar says:

    It’s generally not possible at a business-level to treat IE users as second-class citizens. So while your idea appeals to anyone who has ever done webapp development, it’s not conducive to business interests.After all, there’s always another website looking to take the users that you’re not willing to fully support.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • blasdel says:

    Fonts are a really bad example for the (otherwise valid) "fuck IE" mindset — Internet Explorer was the first to support downloadable fonts, by a margin of at least 5 years!The only problem is that you have to convert the font into an arbitrarily different format, ans Adobe and the foundries would have screamed bloody murder (as they are doing now with @font-face) if you could just use plain TrueType and OpenType fonts.

    Webkit has supported @font-face for quite a while, Mozilla is the real straggler here — they repeatedly refused to implement it for a decade, and when they finally did they added a bullshit same-origin policy. At least they didn’t introduce a second stupid webfont format!

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • audionerd says:

    or the Readability bookmarklet :)http://lab.arc90.com/experiments/readability/

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rjurney says:

    Internet Explorer Must Die: http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • 9oliYQjP says:

    But it’s not about refusing to support them completely. Also, the difference between trying this strategy today and even 2 years ago is that CSS now has features that would be compelling to end users rather than just developers. Users couldn’t care less if developers want to use Safari/FireFox/IE8 because they support display: table. But users are becoming more demanding in terms of user experience and as they realize that the alternative browsers let them have nicer typography and cool desktop-like animations/transitions they will begin to demand this kind of thing.For a while, some die-hards will probably try to use Flash to mimic the experience that HTML5 and these new CSS features offer. But I think the uptake of Flash amongst new developers is less than that of standards-based practices. Simply by virtue of having more developers supporting the standards based approach, I think Flash will eventually be eclipsed until it is relegated to a niche, kind of like how Google Maps is everywhere now and MapQuest is dying.

    There is this big assumption that users are resistant to change. I’m inclined to believe they’re resistant to unnecessary change. We just need to make them feel compelled to change and users will do so. For the first time in a while, Safari and FireFox actually have compelling features to users that IE does not. That changes the landscape quite a bit.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rjurney says:

    Anti-trust had no teeth last decade because of the ‘privatization is good, private enterprise can do no wrong’ economic orgy that just came crashing down, and as a result IE has held the internet back a decade. Just THINK of where we would be if Netscape had won.The political climate has shifted in the wake of the housing crisis, so… could a class action suit have some teeth? Think of all the money lost in fixing IE-specific bugs that only exist because Microsoft used its monopoly to shove an inferior browser onto every desktop, and then refused to put resources into developing it, to ensure they continued to make money on rich client applications and their operating system. Think of the cumulative cost of fixing IE bugs across our entire economy.

    Microsoft owes the American people billions for IE. I want a class action suit against them. There are IE-specific bug billing records that surely amount to billions of dollars at companies across America. Companies would line up with invoices to web developers to join the suit.

    Microsoft owes us all money. They must be stopped, and they must pay.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rjurney says:

    Anti-trust had no teeth, and so IE has held the internet back a decade.But could a class action suit have some teeth? Think of all the money lost in fixing IE-specific bugs that only exist because Microsoft used its monopoly to shove an inferior browser onto every desktop. Think of the cost of fixing IE bugs across our entire economy.

    Microsoft owes the American people billions for IE. I want a class action suit against them. There are IE-specific bug billing records that surely amount to billions of dollars at companies across America.

    Microsoft owes us all money. They must be stopped, and they must pay.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • warfangle says:

    This is amazing. Thank you!!

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8) http://bit.ly/LnAED

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • 9oliYQjP says:

    Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know that IE supported downloadable fonts. Thanks for the clarification.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • snprbob86 says:

    "That is, unless you want an inconsistent experience for your users."I’m not so sure why people fight so hard for an IDENTICAL experience between browsers. People running IE6 probably won’t even notice your square corners. This is why I keep proposing serving a mobile version to IE6 users. The next time something is off by one row of pixels in IE6, completely ignore it. Chances are, IE6 users will too.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • Anti-trust had no teeth last decade because of the ‘privatization is good, private enterprise can do no wrong’ economic orgy that just came crashing down, and as a result IE has held the internet back a decade. Just THINK of where we would be if Netscape had won.

    The political climate has shifted in the wake of the housing crisis, so… could a class action suit have some teeth? Think of all the money lost in fixing IE-specific bugs that only exist because Microsoft used its monopoly to shove an inferior browser onto every desktop, and then refused to put resources into developing it, to ensure they continued to make money on rich client applications and their operating system. Think of the cumulative cost of fixing IE bugs across our entire economy.

    Microsoft owes the American people billions for IE. I want a class action suit against them. There are IE-specific bug billing records that surely amount to billions of dollars at companies across America. Companies would line up with invoices to web developers to join the suit.

    Microsoft owes us all money. They must be stopped, and they must pay.

  • IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8)… http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • rjurney says:

    I’m pretty surprised at the negative karma. How can you all feel anything but outrage about IE? Have you not delt with its bugs for a decade? Do you think this was accidental?

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • thismat says:

    So, when you argue with your client over this specification for hours, and they decide to give the job to someone who will make it consistent, then what?From a business point of view, especially in the marketing world, you’ll have a hard time compelling the every day firm to ditch IE support. And as I said in the previous thread about this same exact thing, the elites can do it and still get plenty of business, but is everyone in the position to be able to turn down a job because of this?

    The answer is probably no.

    EDIT:

    I guess the real issue is more along the lines of an education issue, and people who don’t grasp it, getting put in charge of whatever new micro-marketing site you’re releasing this quarter.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • thismat says:

    So, when you argue with your client over this specification for hours, and they decide to give the job to someone who will make it consistent, then what?From a business point of view, especially in the marketing world, you’ll have a hard time compelling the every day firm to ditch IE support. And as I said in the previous thread about this same exact thing, the elites can do it and still get plenty of business, but is everyone in the position to be able to turn down a job because of this?

    The answer is probably no.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • youngian says:

    How depressing. I think we all knew this deep down, but he puts it very eloquently. IE will always be holding the web back, at least for the entire forseeable future. Even as a lifelong cynic, this still bummed me out.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rbritton says:

    Subsequent versions of IE have gotten dramatically better, but the time delta between versions is too long. From its wikipedia page: IE5: September 1997 IE6: August 2001 (+4 years) IE7: October 2006 (+9 years) IE8: March 2009 (+11.5 years)Safari, Firefox, et al do not have a similar lag and have been able to implement newer standards much more quickly. WebKit, for example, is in active development, and the version of the framework in use by Safari is updated fairly regularly.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • sketerpot says:

    It’s not like the IE6 people are also going to be running Firefox to do a side-by-side comparison of how your page renders. Unless they have some new and fascinating psychological abnormality, of course.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • youngian says:

    This is essentially what Andy Clarke suggested: http://forabeautifulweb.com/blog/about/universal_internet_ex…

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rimantas says:

    It does, albeit too slow. According to our ranking site http://ranking.lt/ IE share felt below 50% for the first time. One should have in mind, that this is not stats from some geek/webdev site, but collected by online advertising company, so it is even more likely that the stats are skewed in favor of IE.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • ZeroGravitas says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if IE6 outlasted IE7 as all the people who could upgrade from IE6 (not locked down corporate machines that need to access outdated intranet sites) have no reason to stay on IE7 either.In that respect I think and hope he’s wrong. If anyone’s writing internal business apps today that will only ever work on one version of one browser then they should be taken out and shot.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • anamax says:

    > But users are becoming more demanding in terms of user experience and as they realize that the alternative browsers let them have nicer typography and cool desktop-like animations/transitions they will begin to demand this kind of thing.While many users may like these things, "demand" seems a bit strong.

    And then there are the folks who don’t like "cool desktop-line animations/transitions".

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • req2 says:

    "I made the perfect accessory, but it only works with electric cars. GM abused their car monopoly to make gas engines, not electric engines, costing me money.GM owes us all money. GM must be stopped, and GM must pay."

    (I’ll also note that you didn’t give Microsoft any money when IE helped you make money, and they’re not your insurance policy when you don’t make money, either.)

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • uglybulb says:

    IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8)
    http://bit.ly/LnAED

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • ecaron says:

    You’ve got to love it when even the MN local art center (@walkerartcenter ) posts about how IE6 needs to die: http://twurl.nl/jfpidp

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • rjurney says:

    GM doesn’t have a car monopoly. The monopoly is why what I said makes sense, and what you said does not.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • TravisLS says:

    I don’t really agree with this assessment. With the release of IE8, we also saw the browser upgrade coming through automatic windows updates. IE will eventually probably accept this as much as safari and firefox, thereby keeping most users up to speed.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • nostrademons says:

    Google Search already does this in a few places where the cost of supporting IE was prohibitive, eg. if you do Search Options -> Related Searches and scroll down, the search suggestions stick at the top of the page on every browser except IE6, with the results scrolling underneath them.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • nostrademons says:

    Don’t argue. Present your case as "You can have IE6 support or you can have features X, Y, and Z. Make the call." Sometimes they’ll say they want IE6, and sometimes they’ll want the features. But it should be framed as a tradeoff: you can’t have both, and supporting obsolete browsers means you can’t deliver functionality that may get you more users in the long run.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • murderdoll says:

    GReader: IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8) http://bit.ly/9W3pk

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • patcito says:

    IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8) http://is.gd/1Czi1 #microsoft

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • erks says:

    http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • erks says:

    ie6 must die along with 7 and 8 http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • abatalion says:

    IE6 sucks.. but so does 7 & 8! http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • req2 says:

    CD-Rs have no monopoly, and yet, there are blank media levies in many countries.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_copying_levy

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • KeeperPat says:

    Well put. RT @abatalion IE6 sucks.. but so does 7 & 8! http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • pbhj says:

    > "IE helped you make money"If IE6 hadn’t existed then we would have had Op., Konq, FF, Saf and been able to move onto use PNG about 8 years earlier, the agreed box model for CSS, less screwy flash implementation, etc.. In addition we’d probably have moved on a lot more with SVG and XHTML would have been accepted by all browsers so we wouldn’t be moving backwards from XML to less a consistent SGML-like HTML. We’d have been able to use opacity earlier. Web designers would have been able to concentrate on extended functionality and graceful design rather that how messed up IE was. Websites would have cost 20%+ less to make.

    How the heck has IE helped make web designers / devs money? That’s like saying having a leg amputation helped to make you more mobile.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • pbhj says:

    IE7 has already gone in my opinion. I agree with everything else though. IE8 is a relief after supporting IE6 but it’s going to get tiresome pretty sharpish unless they make a move towards CSS3.

    Acid 3 results speak volumes: Opera, Chrome and Saf @ 100% (including dev versions), FF (Gecko) 94%, KHTML 80%+ … IE (Trident) 20% !

    IE was 4 years behind Safari in passing Acid2.

    [PS: with noscript one can’t tell you have recaptcha and comments fail to submit silently]

  • imajes says:

    uh, what do you base this on?most users seem unable to determine what a browser is. I think you have wildly unrealistic expectations of what real users want.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • pbhj says:

    Yeah but MSIE decided to go with EOT which is arguably why no-one else bothered. If they’d used TTF then other browsers would have implemented it earlier because it would actually be a usable solution.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rjurney says:

    You failed to convey a point.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • req2 says:

    Without standing very firmly behind the argument, Microsoft popularized computers in a serious way that provided the market that provided web jobs. You can argue that without Microsoft, the collection of marginal suppliers would have stepped up and provided the same large market, but you can’t show that very well.(Another argument suggests that the automatically provided browser enhanced the interest in the internet – "I have this program that doesn’t work! I must make it work by getting the internet!" – that may not have existed without IE preinstalled. "If the internet is so useful, why didn’t it come preinstalled, like Office did?")

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • req2 says:

    You suggest a monopoly is the requirement to subsidize other industries. I display an extant case of a non-monopoly subsidizing an industry.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • rogeriopvl says:

    IE6 must die (along with 7 and 8) http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • david nystuen says:

    Having used IE for years with no problems, maybe your proble is you.

  • rjurney says:

    I made no such suggestion.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • jdavid says:

    you should support IE6 as a separate product, and via a separate feature timeline.if you can launch a web app for browsers that are modern and relevant in 4 weeks, and doing it for IE takes an additional 2-4 weeks, why wait to launch those features for a broken browsers, support and reward users with current browsers by giving them 1st access to new features.

    supporting IE6 on a different roadmap means you can do ROI on each feature, and if IE6 is to expensive to develop a feature for, then…… gasp… you can just skip it.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • John says:

    I don’t know if this is cruel after all you’re argument is sound but I think you’re likely the one who doesn’t understand the bigger picture. Well, at least don’t be stupid :)

  • luisbug says:

    I’m sorry, but i just love to trash IE :> » IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8) http://bit.ly/jxMkU (via feedly)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • CalmQuiet says:

    I don’t know why no comments *here*, but you’re “getting some love” on Hacker News: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=710507

  • StartupNews: IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8) http://bit.ly/Psldb

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • royela says:

    microsoft, maybe it’s time to reconsider RT KeeperPat: Well put. RT @abatalion IE6 sucks.. but so does 7 & 8! http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • pmf says:

    Get a life, please.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • xcv says:

    Opera 9 also do not support HTML5 and CSS3…

  • derefr says:

    I don’t think the format was ever really the problem; people are willing to put up with all sorts of conversion shite to get things up on the web (FLV, for example.) IE’s problem was entirely that it was ahead-of-its-time in this regard: fonts were too big on yesterday’s internet to download at a decent clip for instant display, and there weren’t any open fonts that anyone was interested in using.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • olivere says:

    Completely agree: IE6 must die, along with 7 and 8. IE8 is way behind even before it gained any traction at all. http://tr.im/sWdf #ie6 #ie8

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • LeftCorner says:

    This is new and interesting and I would like subscribe to your newsletter and/or RSS feed and/or follow you on the twit site.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  • rogeriopvl says:

    The 7 stages of the Programmer: http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • pbhj says:

    I guess then AOL helped me to make money too. Time Berners-Lee helped me to make money. Wife beating helped me to make money (one of my clients is a womens’ aid group). Bit obtuse.

    This comment was originally posted on Hacker News

  • gtrichey says:

    why killing IE6 alone isn’t enough -> http://tr.im/t6Jq

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • meddah says:

    IE6 ölmeli diyorum – http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • @xcv The most recent version (9.6) certainly does. Opera has been one of the leaders on HTML5 integration into their browser.

  • Nate Solas says:

    @david nystuen – I rather think it’s due to the thousands of extra hours by dedicated designers like Brent that you haven’t had many issues with IE. But that’s the whole point – imagine a website where those thousands of hours could be spent on actual features and polish for the browsers that adhere to standards instead of dragging IE 6 along?

  • markus says:

    ABSOLUTELY! 1st time I’ve heard it said, tho I oft wondered, for as you pointed out, IE7 is woefully off-kilt in the standards department, IE8 thumbs it’s nose….but then…

    I just realized… WE”VE GONE (and come) TOO FAR!

    we now have viable non IE and Non PC browsers (Iphone, Blackberry,PlayStation..Nintendo WII) all with their unique foibles and idiosyncrasies, much like IE used to /still has BUT FAR LESS DOCUMENTED.
    Anybody run into the WII/Opera content bug? or the PSP innerHTML errors? or no ajax? (you can kludge it though)
    Its gotten so bad that its too bad. there are NO STANDARDS (unless you are standardizing about stuff people dont care about :(
    Nice rant…several years too late…

  • noie6 says:

    IE6 Must Die (along with 7 and 8) http://bit.ly/11vA4C

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

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