As web developers we constantly struggle to make our websites and applications display/function correctly in Internet Explorer 6 (IE6). At the moment it accounts for around 20% of the browsers that people use. This is a high proportion considering it was released back in 2001 and we are now up to Internet Explorer 8 with Internet Explorer 9 already in development.
Finally it looks like there is some high profile movement towards users and companies upgrading their browsers away from IE6! Most recently Google announced it is going to stop supporting IE6 from the 1st of March 2010 and there was a Downing Street petition calling for the UK government to stop using the browser. Even the Department of Health in the UK advised the NHS to move away from the old browser.
If you type anything to do with IE6 into a search engine you will discover a huge number of websites giving numerous reasons why not to use IE6. There is a big push at the moment to get users to upgrade their browser but it seems this may not make much of a difference.
Most users are still using IE6 because either the company they work for uses it or because they do not know any better. Companies seem reluctant to change as it is often very costly to upgrade software on their systems. The problem is that IE6 has plenty of security issues and is very out dated technology. Companies should realise this and invest the time and money to upgrade their browsers.
The other issue with users knowing no better is a difficult one to tackle. A lot of users are not familiar with the term browser and are used to just clicking on the 'E' symbol on their PC to use the Internet. Articles like this one are not going to reach those users and it is more likely they will remain with IE6 until their PC is upgraded.
That said it is still worth writing about this issue in the hope that as this issue becomes mentioned more and more in the media some users will take notice and move away from IE6.
Why stop using IE6?
From a developers point of view not needing to take IE6 into account saves a lot of time and frustration. Due to the behavior of IE6 various different coding methods have to be used specifically to get the system/website to function correctly in IE6. This adds a lot of time to projects and can be very frustrating for developers.
From a users point of view there are numerous security issues with staying with IE6 leaving your data and privacy at higher risk compared with newer browsers. The latest browsers also offer a much better user experience with increased usability, functionality and speed.
An interesting website is http://www.ie6nomore.com. There you can download some code to add to your website that will display the following banner to any user who arrives at your website and is using IE6. I think this is a good way to get the word across to IE6 users as they will see this whenever they visit a site were the code has been installed.
Hopefully it will not be many more years before finally as developers we can ignore IE6 in our browser testing!