| Thursday July 24th 2014

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When will we be able to tell IE6 users to jump off a bridge?


internet_explorer_logo.jpgAnother afternoon spent coming up with CSS hacks for .png transparency and other nonsense for IE6. On Feb 12, Windows Update supposedly began forcing IE7 updates on people and that’s super duper great. Now when someone calls Microsoft about IE6, they can properly get chewed out and hung up on.

But what about the rest of us career Internet jerks? Will there ever be a time when we’re not supporting retired versions of everyone’s mom’s favorite browser?

According to w3Schools, we’re still looking at 32% IE6 usage so I guess I’m going to be stuck png hacking sites for at least another year. If anyone else is in the same boat, let us commiserate and console each other or something.

Unfortunately, even when confronted with a page that Just Doesn’t Work and even tells them that they need a different browser, most users simply do not care enough to go and grab something else. Hell, even requests to update Flash and the Acrobat Reader usually stop people dead in their tracks.

And frankly, I can’t blame them. That’s like hitting a tollbooth and having the guy say “Turn around, your car isn’t new enough for our VASTLY SUPERIOR roads.” Users don’t see it as someone pushing for a benefit for them. They see it as some web site, and, by extension, the owners and operators of the web site, thinking it is too good for them.

I remember a story I read about a guy who was asking for help with a web site he was creating. It was selling products designed for Apple machines, and it basically rendered terribly in anything other than Safari. I think Firefox was usable, but still had some quirks. Opera was straight out too. His logic was that he didn’t want to waste his time supporting IE when there wasn’t a modern version of IE for the Mac, let alone a remotely standards-compliant version of IE (of course, at the time, Firefox was still fudging compliancy).

Basically, what most everyone told him was that by doing so, he was alienating customers. People on older Macs who might be looking at the accessories they could get if they upgraded? Gone. People on Windows machines who might be looking at the accessories they could get if they switched? Gone. People on Windows machines who had Macs, but were using the computer available to them at the time to browse? Gone. People in Boot Camp? Gone.

He even made it worse by simply blocking IE users (with a really snarky statement about IE’s quality – he apparently thought talking down to potential customers was a good idea), rather than let them view the pages with rendering bugs. And really, his bugs were easy to fix. He just didn’t want to do it because those users weren’t important enough to him personally – it wasn’t even a decision made by the company he was working for.

Now, don’t get me wrong. In the rare instance I design web pages, it’s going to be viewable by Opera 9, Firefox 2, and IE7, in that order (unless I was being paid, then it’s supporting whatever I’m told to support, though I’d throw in Opera). Anything else is legacy. But if people want to view it, or try to view it, I’m certainly not going to block them. I’m especially not going to block them just out of spite (like that script that came out a while ago that either recommended a Firefox upgrade, landed on a page recommending a Firefox upgrade, or simply blocked the site unless someone was using Firefox).

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