Wednesday, 16 November 2011

IE 6 Support Dilemma

Often there is a dilemma among web developers whether they need to support Internet Explorer 6 or not.
Problem with supporting IE 6 is that, it is very complex, especially if you are building rich interactive web sites. Many functionality may not work and many other functionality will have extremely sluggish performance.
There are many campaigns running on behalf of dropping IE 6 support. Eg. http://idroppedie6.com/ , where you can register your website and declare Independence from IE 6.

Before dropping IE 6 support, we need to see whether any one uses it. Yes, many use it. If you check  browser market share statistics from various sources, you will see that around 5 to 10 percentage of the users are still using IE 6.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Explorer#Market_adoption_and_usage_share
So question is whether you need to support (or rather, get business from) these 10 percentage of the users or not.
But why all these people are still using IE 6? My assumption is as follows. Almost 50% of the computer users are still using Windows XP. It may have shipped along with their computer and there are only a very few users who upgrade the OS. Default browser shipped with XP was IE 6. Among this XP users, there is a section who may not have enabled Windows Update and so they are not upgraded to IE 8. And there will be yet another section who may be using pirated Windows XP and so they don't have an option of windows update. But from a business perspective, can we say that we don't need business from those who are using pirated softwares?

The million dollar question is still open - "Do I need to support IE 6?".
In my opinion, if you are developing a public website whose usage will impact your revenue, you should support IE 6. Now the problem is that, if you develop a rich web screen, it will always have issues in supporting IE 6. My suggestion is to have a highly user friendly web application, targeting the newgen browsers such as firefox and chrome. And in addition to that have a fully functional but less user friendly version of the same application to support IE 6.
But if you are targeting corporate users, you may need to support only new generation browsers. Here the advantage is that corporate can instruct the users to use free newgen browsers like firefox or chrome.
You can also check the usage pattern of your website and find out the browser usage share, Using this data you may take appropriate decision.

3 comments:

  1. Check out http://www.ie6countdown.com/
    I think everyone should jump on the Drop IE6 bandwagon; even if you support it, should at least encourage the user to drop it

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  2. Hi Kanakan,
    The map at http://www.ie6countdown.com/ is interesting. Just wondering whether it is the piracy percentage world wide :)
    In the map, we can see that even USA and Canada has more than 1% of the population using IE. So the decision is purely business driven, whether to loose that 1% customers or not. If you can't loose them, you need a stepped down site for them. As you said, the site can give a clear indication that they are using a legacy browser and all the good features may not be enabled.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
    html5 video player

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