Still Stuck With IE 6? Consider Just Jumping to IE 9

Odds are if you are viewing this Blog with IE 6 you are in a large, slow moving corporation. I really doubt normal folks reading this Blog would still have IE 6 installed on their home or small business computers. If so, Bad Geek, Bad Geek, now go think about what you are missing. Seriously there is no good reason for anyone to use IE 6, it is a 9 year old browser(warning clicking that link may display a disgusting image).

Internet ExplorerThe Internet moves fast, really fast and standards, trends and techniques change almost daily. Well maybe not really that fast, but at least the way we as developers and designers learn to leverage HTML, CSS2/3 and JavaScript. In the past 9 years we have learned to build some pretty amazing applications. Just think about it, back then AJAX was still just a household cleaner!

The real culprit behind the continued use of IE 6? Wellcorporations of courseChitcka did a survey of browser usage by the hour and determined the peak IE 6 usage hours were during the US work day. Why would the corporate world force their employees to use a less secure and less functional browser? Well they have built so many behind the firewall applications that are in a word, bad. Not bad in the fact they don’t work, but bad in the sense they were not written to have a forward life.

What is a ‘forward life’ you may ask, well its developing an application so that it cannot reasonably function in the near future as trends and standards progress. Think long Gevity.

Why Wait for IE 9?

With so much effort to get users to stop using IE 6 you may be wondering why I am espousing the idea of waiting for IE 9 as the natural upgrade path. The answer is two fold really, to avoid repeating yourself with IE 8 and to give you time to upgrade your applications.

Sadly the trend I am seeing in the corporate world right now is to upgrade to IE 7, again why? Well because most corporate IT directors have this long outdated mentality that you must wait 2-3 years for a release to be ‘stable’. This is modern day hog wash! These same IT decision makers probably drive a car built in the 70s I bet. Of course they don’t, they are probably already driving a 2011 model. Honestly there is no reason to not be using IE 8, or the latest FireFox or Chrome. So no, I am not going to advise IE 6 companies to plan a strategy to migrate to IE 8 specifically, but please do (like NOW). Just plan on moving to IE 9 next year as part of your plan. This really means upgrading your application to support the W3C standards, not a specific browser.

Time To Upgrade

IE 9 is set to release sometime next year, my guess is at MIX 11. Why, well Microsoft likes to use large events like MIX to make major releases. If you are not aware, MIX is Microsoft’s web technology conference, an ideal place to launch a new browser. This year at MIX 10 Microsoft unveiled a preview look at IE 9, with demonstrations of its new functionality and performance improvements.

So that gives you roughly 10 months to get ready, so get moving. This means you need to upgrade all of those poorly written applications from 2000-3, but seriously, isn’t an update long overdue for those applications anyway?

How Can You Test Your Applications Upgrades?

That’s pretty easy, just write your application to the standards. That means know HTML 4+ and CSS 3 and apply it to your applications. You can test in IE 8, FireFox and Chrome. And I well make a sizable wager that Microsoft will release previews of IE 9 later this year.Currently you can see use the IE 9 Developer Preview. If not I am sure you will see it before it is actually released so developers can really test their apps. But as usual, they are really wanting to see if IE 9 works in the real-world and fix any flaws unearthed by Beta testers.

The Moral of the Story

Companies still forcing their developers to create applications to support IE 6 are just hurting themselves. They are telling their employees they really do not care about their security and quality of life. For their developers they are saying this is a dead-end place to work, you can never advance your career.

Web standards are a great thing. They allow developers to code against a common target, not a browser. The browser is only responsible for rendering the application according to these standards. The browser competition is to perform this task the best. So far IE 9 looks to be doing a great job executing these standards. FireFox and Chrome are already implementing many of the newer standards. By creating applications to the standards you give your users the freedom of choice to use what browser they like best.

By avoiding IE 6 support corporations only stand to gain by freeing their developers to spend more resources on more modern applications. Applications that really take advantage of the standards that are driving great user experiences everyday. Each day these standards are exercised further by developers all over the world and the bar is constantly being raised to create great user experiences that make companies run efficiently and profitably. The choice to stick with a 9 year old, out dated and insecure browser is a choice that screams”This is a dead company, run far away.”

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