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Who Is Keeping IE6 Alive?

June 1, 2010

Who Is Keeping IE6 Alive

After reflecting further on the importance of cross-browser testing, I began to think about who are the people behind the numbers. Who is adapting modern browsers, who isn't? Who's leaving their native Safari and Internet Explore browsers to use the now dominate FireFox (Mozilla)?

In May of 2010 W3 Schools released a report, as they do every month, identifying the seven major browsers which currently comprised the browser market. The list came out looking like:

IE8: 16.0%
IE7: 9.1%
IE6: 7.1%
Firefox: 46.9%
Chrome: 14.5%
Safari: 3.5%
Opera: 2.2%

Why IE6's Time Has Passed

Internet Explore 6 was released on August 27, 2001, and was packaged as the default browser on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. It was available on many of Windows other major releases including Windows 98, Windows ME, and Windows 2000. As a result, IE6 became the first browser many people used, and it became the standard on many schools and companies work stations. People became friends with IE6.

Times change, the content being developed for todays web users have evolved and some aspects of web browsing have been re-imagined all together. As a developer important changes I've seen include, image format support, accessibility features, and DOM compatibility. Seeing the potential the web offers, and aware of the restrictions of IE6, many developers have begun to pull support for the dated browser. Is this a risky move for a company to do? To make a proper evaluating of including or excluding IE6 from your development process, lets look at a couple ideas.

IE6, Who Are The 7.1%

According to Internet World Stats to date there are approximately 1,802,330,000 internet user in the world. Put that number against the 7.1% IE6 users and you're left with 127,965,430. While this number has dropped by 7.4% over the past year, it still represents a large population. Without a report detailing the specifics of who these users are, we are left to speculate.

Corporate Computers - My experience with working with large corporate clients has led me to not assume technological currency. The scary moments of sitting down into a conference room and having your work brought up on a 800 x 600px resolution screen running IE6 are enough to do thorough cross-broswer testing, especially for this type of client.

Older/Infrequent Web Users - The interweb can be a daunting place for the older and infrequent users. For these individuals, navigating to Google can be overwhelming, often their machines are dated, and they generally lack the understanding of what a browser is and how it affects their experience.

Who's In Your Audience

Consider your audience. As with many aspects of design/development, understanding your audience should drive your decisions.

Follow The Leader

Interestingly, it looks like some of the internet giants have begun to say enough to the limitations of these dated broswers. Google and YouTube seem to be leading the charge, both of which have stopped support in 2010. With recent trends and continued depreciation from larger web players, I optimistically speculate that we'll see IE6's market share drop below 1% in the next 18 months.

*Image captured at