Those who design and engineer web pages (and emails) have long been aware that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) has been something of a thorn in their side. Even basic layouts sometimes require a custom IE6 style sheet, and the kind of modern web features that the likes of Facebook now employ to bring responsive and interactive web pages simply don’t work. As a result for quite some time now there have been campaigns like ‘IE6 Must Die‘ – a geeky read but an excellent example of the frustrations felt in the community. This campaign though has, until recently, not been as effective as that community would have liked.
A recent report by NetMarketShare revealed that IE6 still represents just over 20% of the market. This is because larger corporations and the public sector are often slow to implement technology change, so the ravings of a few internet designers and developers aren’t going to carry much influence. They’ve got the resources to ensure that their own sites work in all browsers, they don’t mind if this prevents their own web sites from being cutting edge, and they are generally insulated to the kind of attitudes and preferences that are advancing web technologies elsewhere. Facebook hasn’t supported IE6 since August 2008. Do large employers care that their staff can’t access Facebook from their office machines? Not likely!
Recently though, the landscape changed. Since hackers in China exploited IE to access some Google mail, it is security rather than beauty and functionality that has taken centre stage on the IE6 issue. The French and German governments went so far as to recommend their citizens choose another browser. Mashable released a new set of reasons why IE6 must die. Google have announced they will phase out IE6 support from March 2010. Today, there’s an article entitled ‘Pressure mounts to phase out Internet Explorer 6‘ on the front page of BBC news.
Here at Sign-Up.to we will be watching this situation with interest. Our public facing services – so that’s our main web site, the dynamic subscription forms our clients can automatically build, and our subscriber profile administration areas - all currently support IE6. For our paying customers though (those who use our web applications to manage their digital marketing), we haven’t supported IE6 for our customers for around 3 years now. To ensure ease of use and accurate email campaign building it simply wasn’t possible to employ the elderly IE6 engine even then. This has meant that some larger entities haven’t been able to fully use our services, but this is a regret we must carry for the greater good.
With the likes of Facebook and Google now on-side, the campaign has surely gathered momentum. However Microsoft still pledges to support IE6 until 2014, so the date on its headstone cannot yet be carved.