Working as a Front End Developer in Web can be a lot of fun. Likewise, being the user of a web page some developers put together can be great as well. What isn’t fun, is coming to a web page that looks like some sort of abstract adventure on your screen, or realizing that something you have spent hours working on doesn’t work in a decade-old browser. This is essentially the premise of what a large part of the development community is trying to abandon. From a user, client, and developer perspective, everyone would benefit from dropping support for older browsers, as it allows for a richer and consistent web experience. While most browser iterations can faithfully reproduce the proper styling and layout, two browsers are notorious for their issues during the development process; Internet Explorer 6 and 7.
The 11 Year Mark
In regards to IE6, this browser was released in 2001 as the native browser that launched with Windows XP. Today, for people who choose to use the XP operating system, as well as Internet Explorer, you can update up to IE8, with relatively much ease. While there are better options, the more people who upgrade or phase out older iterations, the more rationale there is to drop support on them (which has already been done on the browsers themselves). Currently, about 6.3% of users around the world are using IE6, compared to 12% in 2011 (www.ie6countdown.com). Oddly enough, even less people use the 2006 update to IE, being IE7, which about 4% of people use worldwide (www.theie7countdown.com). While some clients’ target demographic/traffic statistics can rationalize support of these browser iterations, it’s a double edged sword in the sense that it is these sites in particular, which prevent those numbers from dropping even further.
What You Can Do
If you are one of the progressive, educate others on alternative browser options that are excellently reliable, such as Chrome or Firefox. These browsers are frequently updated, and are much faster than the IE route. If you know someone who is intent on using IE however, get them to upgrade! The point to get across is that they have nothing to lose. All you can do from upgrading or switching browsers is gain functionality to more contemporary methods of development, as well as save money on getting a site developed. By cutting out IE6/7 support, not only will you cut down development hours and costs, but you will become part of the movement towards a much faster, unified, and rich web environment. Do it. NOW.