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Browser Market Pollution: IE[x] is the new IE6 (paulirish.com)
274 points by joshuacc on Sept 27, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

I saw this on paul's G+ and rolled my eyes.

Oh guffaw. The time has easily come where we are allowed to say "no" to several browser versions, or at least ignore them. Even Google has dropped support for IE6.

Supporting several browsers does not mean that a website has to look perfect in all those browsers. My sites will look good on the latest version of Chrome, IE, Opera, and Firefox.

Users of IE6/7/etc are already self-inflicting harm on their own web experience, why should we care to cater to them? They can have the website I display, but I'm not building the site for the past.

I don't care if previous browser users see the Best Of All Possible Websites, as long as they see something. And since I'm developing Canvas apps, I don't care if some of them see anything at all.

I imagine IE will reluctantly take the road of Chrome or FF and be more insistent about updates, especially outside of the corporate world. I also think that in the future the consensus will be that there isn't anything wrong with dropping support for aged browsers, and just displaying one "simple" site version to them.

I've never really understood the outward hostility Web developers display towards their clients, audience, customers, etc. Your job is to deliver the best experience you can for people viewing Web pages. If given all the information at your disposal, the costs don't outweigh the pros for your audience, that's one thing. But not doing it because it's hard or you just don't feel like it is a bit childish (please note I'm using "you" to mean the prototypical Web developer here -- not you as in simonsarris).

We all have to do things we don't like in our jobs, that's just part of it being a job. I can even accept a certain amount of healthy advocacy. Encourage people to upgrade if you'd like. But outright refusal to do your best because your customer doesn't run the browser you wish they did is just a very odd tactic to take.

I'd like you to dig a ditch for me...

Oh, and you have to use this garden spade...

Oh, and the handle is made out of jelly...

Oh, and the ditch is on the beach so the tide will be coming in any time now.

Hyperbole, yes. Web development isn't exactly ditch digging, but if you really want to understand why so many web developers are openly hostile toward supporting these older browsers, it's because the exercise is tantamount to digging ditches with jelly-handled garden spades on a rigid time table. When you get in to these much, much older browsers, it's a back and forth game of break/fix whack-a-mole. It's broken in one browser, so you try to fix it by using another approach, only to find that it's now broken in the current browser. That or you end up using ugly work arounds that just cruft up the application and make maintenance a nightmare.

Ultimately this comes down to a business decision. I consider each browser version as a market to be sold in to. I may find it an unrealistic business proposition to increase my developer hours by 30%, just to support a specific browser, when there's a big fat market of current browser users ready to use my application.

I've been doing Web development for a long time. So, I'm aware of the environment. Usually the costs of supporting older browsers are grossly exaggerated. Unless you're completely new to the game, you already know how to deal with older versions of IE because at one time they were the state of the art.

But, if you* really don't enjoy what you're doing, do something else. There are always going to be browser differences and they're not all IE-related. But you're getting paid to know those differences and handle them so your customer gets a good experience.

* Again, "you" == the wider population of Web developers.

I agree with you on one point. In a lot of cases, the cost of supporting older browsers (say, IE7 and newer) is grossly exagerated, but if we're talking IE6, I completely disagree. Maybe for simple websites, but the moment you start getting in to web applications with a moderately complex Javascript UI, the costs go up very quickly.

Or if it is our own project simply decide not to support them and take a hit on who can see our website. For most things I've done I'd rather do this than properly support IE6.

In the real world time is limited and expensive resource, and the more of it you spend catering to a small fraction of users, the less you can spend on improving your service in other ways – possibly more beneficial to the end users.

It's a matter of trade-offs that have to be made based on intended audience and information available. No need to be offended.

Sure. Like I said, if you're actually measuring it, then that's one thing. But supporting older browsers usually isn't that hard if you know what you're doing. Obviously there are some features that you just can't backport and there's not much you can do there. But more often than not I read comments like "as a policy, I just won't support IE < 9."

In any event, the cost argument is the purview of the business owner perspective, not the Web developer. And it's hard to look at in isolation. I don't know that many sites that wouldn't love to have another 5% of traffic. Yeah, it may cost more to support older browsers, but driving traffic to a site costs money, whether through ads or spending time on inbound marketing. Trying to bump conversion rates on your existing traffic costs money and time as well.

There's obviously a balance to it. At the extreme end, I know of businesses that support anything with > 0.5% market share because at the volume they operate at, it's worth millions. At the other end, I see startups fight tooth-and-nail working on their funnels, while throwing away legitimate sources of revenue.

It's rarely all-or-nothing. For me "not supported" means that the site wasn't extensively tested on a given browser or it doesn't offer full experience, not that it doesn't work at all. Another issue is whether those enterprise IE6 users are really the target audience of your startup.

Anyway, it seems like we both agree that it should be a deliberate decision.

So price support for certain browsers as features. IE7 +5%. IE6 +30%.

Do you remember Netscape 4.x? I sure do -- I was supporting it well into 2004 because I didn't have the nerve to tell my overlords that it was cost-ineffective. One day when the CSS (or, rather the JSS written as CSS) recursion levels got really deep, there was a small explosion (approximately one kiloStan yield), and we dropped support. (NS4 users got a usable app, but not the enhanced experience that other users were getting.)

Strangely enough, we didn't lose customers. It turns out that people were using NS4.x because we supported NS4.x. They will upgrade if they have a reason to do so.

If you've written the site/app well, it will work in Lynx, fer cryin' down the sink. It won't be pretty or slick, but it'll work. There is absolutely no need to make a site feature-for-feature identical or pixel-perfect across all browsers, as long as the functionality is there. And if users understand that their browser is holding back the experience, they will change the browser.

It's very similar to waiters complaining about their customers, or any job ever complaining. People bitch about work, especially the less fun parts, especially when they can put the blame on someone.

There are just a lot of vocal web designers on the web, go figure.

>Users of IE6/7/etc are already self-inflicting harm on their own web experience

Don't assume users have a choice. Even if they do, don't assume they understand the choice.

>why should we care to cater to them?

If you want to ignore a % of your users, that's fine. Some of your competitors wont. That's your choice. Just realize you can be losing potential users/customers and that lesson about updating their browsers will be lost on the customers that went elsewhere.

I'm not suggesting those users who don't have a choice should be ignored completely, I'm suggesting they be ignored for the Best Of All Possible Websites (or whatever you'd like to call it).

Even if you display to 70+ browsers you can still get away with programming two versions, as most websites do today (or more than two, as most major websites do). One will simply be less complex and pretty than the other (CSS3, etc).

In the future I imagine that will be the standard: Modern version of a website, and then lowest-common-denominator version, which works with IE[X]+ and older mobile browsers, and stubborn/corporate firefox users, etc.

In my case I don't have a choice: Canvas cannot work on IE6/7/8. Excanvas works until animation is introduced, then becomes progressively worthless.

It may still not do what you need, but I've found FlashCanvas to be much better (for speed and correctness) than Excanvas.

If you want to ignore a % of your users, that's fine. Some of your competitors wont.

You know, as a long-time Linux and Firefox user, I've made that point to a number of newspaper web sites, etc etc etc. I usually get the written equivalent of an eye-roll.

Why is it that it's OK for a business to ignore Linux and Mac users (back when Macs didn't have such a huge mind-share). or Firefox and Safari users, but it's not OK for a busines to ignore the same fraction of Windows users?

>Why is it that it's OK for a business to ignore Linux and Mac users ... but it's not OK for a busines to ignore the same fraction of Windows users?

I don't think it's "OK" as much as it is a business decision. Developing software for various platforms is vastly different (in terms of resources) than developing websites for cross browser compatibility. The barrier to entry in the web world is also much lower, which leads to a higher level of competition and as I mentioned if you don't support a browser, a competitor will. As you no doubt know, that same statement isn't commonly made about platform software.

> If you want to ignore a % of your users, that's fine.

Developer time spent supporting IE6 is developer time that could have been spent addressing feature requests or other issues impacting the rest of your user base. Or perhaps it could have been spent supporting a platform your product doesn't yet support at all, such as Android or iPhone.

Point is, there's always an opportunity cost for spending developer time supporting any feature or platform. No matter what you do, you're ignoring somebody. There is nothing special about IE6 users in this regard, particularly given that they are now a distinct minority.

I'm certainly a proponent giving a different experience to different browsers: http://paulirish.com/2011/tiered-adaptive-front-end-experien...

If you're in a position where you can totally ignore IE8 users, that's fine with me; but that's not where most developers are at.

And I agree; the more time goes by, the more I want to provide a super simple version of each site to oldIE, like throwing the Universal IE6 Stylesheet to all of them.

I'm convinced most developers will be able to ignore most of the 76 potential IE engines though; even if it wasn't possible to override I can't see too many people browsing with IE11 set to masquerade as IE7.

I agree. I overblew that point in my post. Still, there will be 5-10 significant IE versions at play.

> Users of IE6/7/etc are already self-inflicting harm on their own web experience

Why would these users self-inflict harm? Unless they're the victim of a enterprise IT overlord, it's because they don't understand what they are doing. They probably don't even have a good mental model of what a browser is.

So when these users visit your web site with their old browsers, I doubt they think "Hey, this web site is rendering poorly because I have an outdated browser" they probably think "this web site is broken".

Even Google has dropped support for IE6.

In the event you haven't received the memo: Google is one of Microsoft's largest competitive threats. By simultaneously attacking Microsoft's browser, Office Suite, and OS monopolies, they're pushing a large wedge into Microsoft's core competitive advantage (mostly installed userbase and inertia).

As others have noted, while browser share may not show much IE6 usage, it's large organizations (and their large bill payment capacities) which account for most of the legacy usage. A key point to keep in mind when trying to grok why "market share" (as a percentage of user-agent pageviews) need not translate directly into "our target user base". If IE6 pays the bills, then you'll continue to support it.

This said as no particular fan of Microsoft. Or, increasingly, of Google.

Google has also dropped support for IE7 in Apps and Gmail.

> IE6 has been a source of pain for… I'd say four years.

We're in late 2011 right? That puts Paul's "IE6 being a pain" in late 2007, right after the original iPhone was released.

By that time, Firefox 2 was a year old, Firebug was 18 months old, and Safari 3 (the first version with acceptable Javascript support) had just been released, making Drosera (which would morph into the Webkit Developer Tools the next year) available.

Hell, by late 2007 IE7 was a year old already. And a significant reason why the IE project was restarted (and IE7 produced) is developers getting fed up with IE6, its bugs, its antiquated tools and its lack of progress, and Firefox had been getting more and more traction since its 1.0 release in late 2004.

IE6 has been a pain for at least 6 years now. 2005 was Firefox 1.5, the announce for the IE project restart and the grand opening of On Having Layout [0], the tail end of the long, slow and painful discovery of IE6's innumerable rendering bugs, DOM and javascript limitations (anybody else remembers Drip and Joel Webber's "DHTML leaks like a sieve"? That's January 2005), painfully slow runtime & al.

Of course it makes sense that 2005 would have been such a sticking point: the web community had been playing around with CSS since ~2003 (CSS Zen Garden released that year) and was wrapping up the IE6 CSS bugs compendium (see above-mentioned On Having Layout, pretty much the culmination of the effort).

Late 2004 and (especially) 2005 it started to turn its attention from styling to behavior, which lead to the rebirth of Javascript and the creation of modern javascript: AJAX coined (and seminal article on the subject published)? February 2005. Opera Desktop free and ad-free? April 2005 QuirksBlog? December 2004. The killing of "DHTML"? 2005[1]. http://simonwillison.net/2005/Jan/5/swissMaps/ http://www.mezzoblue.com/archives/2005/01/06/dhtml_05/index...., ... the javascript frameworks explosion was also 2004 (Dojo) through 2005 (Prototype, Mochikit) to 2006 (jQuery, YUI)

[0] http://www.satzansatz.de/cssd/onhavinglayout.html

[1] http://adactio.com/journal/938

Actually, by late 2003 Phoenix (which is what Firefox used to be called back then) was already an impressive little browser (it was little back then) and IE6 was already horribly outdated and clumsy for those of us who grew a penchant for alternative browsers (the others being Opera and the Mozilla Suite).

I completely agree, but developers-wise it was not a complete pain in the ass yet: it was the "looking forward to meeting you" browser for the development community (having just been renamed Firebird), the community was mostly in its IE5/Mac high and getting started on understanding CSS and trying to get rid of tables.

This would lead down a long and painful road re. IE6, but I think it was just getting started and not feeling it yet. On the Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox front, Chris Pederick's Web Developer Toolbar was still a year away.

(there were, of course, visionaries community wise: PPK published "Separating behavior and structure" in April 2004[0], and the "javascript prophets" were getting out their suggestions on getting event handler bindings out of HTML[1], it's a long gone time when Opera's javascript support was billed "poor" and the first version of Safari had little CSS support and no ability to execute any javascript worth running)

edit: after thinking about it a bit more, i still think 2003 is too early for the IE6 pain point, but my 2005 might be too conservative as well. So I'd put the early pangs in early to mid-2004 for the "wider" community of developers interested in web technologies.

[0] http://www.digital-web.com/articles/separating_behavior_and_...

[1] http://www.sitepoint.com/structural-markup-javascript/

And BTW, the year 2003 was when MS said that future versions of IE would come only as part of OS upgrade/updates.

The 72 browser versions thing is an exaggeration. For your websites, add this tag: <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge" /> - and you force IE to use that version's latest documents mode. So good point about IE's slow adoption, it really is annoying and holding back the web - but for your websites, you can easily force the document mode of your choice, avoiding the crappy emulated modes.

Absolutely. That line is critical to avoiding pain. Library authors don't have that option, unfortunately. :/

But even if we ignore the compat versions for now (and quirks mode (and almost-quirks mode)), we still end up with up to 10 IEs in play simultaneously.

Good point about library authors... that's a headache!

Kinda sorta.

"Edge" rendering on X browsers is still X different ways for all those stuck-in-time browsers to decide what "edge" meant at the time of their release or last update.

That meta tag is a good practice but not the ultimate solution.

Yeah, but the point is X is better than X^2 + (1/2)X. The article makes a big deal of the 72 browsers thing.

You kids these days don't know how good you have it. Back in the day, when applications ran on the computer instead of in the browser, we would have killed to have only 76 different configurations to support. (And I'm not joking, though I am smiling ruefully.)


We had one computer. And one program that ran on it. And we liked it that way.

(OK, but we had a gazillion VMs so we could all run our one program on our one computer, except that we could never schedule any CPU time).

> How many browsers would you like to support?

I don't support browsers. I support standards. I stopped performing hacky compatibility gymnastics long before Google made it cool to boast how you weren't supporting IE6 anymore, and my workflow and sanity has improved due to it.

To extend my point, I don't care if the user wants to use Firefox or Chrome or even IE. The rendering should be consistent across the board, and the browser should be about the user experience. Add ons, syncing, other such features.

Imagine if this applied to the world of televisions. If people didn't buy Sony TVs because they didn't display channels as well as Sharp or Panasonic. If you had to render your video with some hacky kludge so the colors displayed right on a Samsung and an LG. That would be insane.

Remember the "web-safe" 216-colour palette? :(

This sounds terrible, but it seems to me that nobody will let it get that bad. It's infeasible to support 70+ browsers simultaneously; no dev shop can afford that. So they would either pick versions or choose some common set of features to support. If this meant that IE users got crappy experiences, despite developers' best efforts, people might finally start ditching IE. (A man can dream, can't he?)

But I think the IE team will find a way to prevent this.

IE6's entrenched position came from the fact that (a) it was the latest version of Internet Explorer for a _huge_ amount of time and (b) its status as the IE dead end for Win2k and below.

When IE7 came out, any company that still had any Win2k machines had to keep designing with IE6 in mind if they wanted their new apps to work on all their computers. (I'm making the assumption that if they were relying on IE previously, they couldn't just switch to Firefox or something).

Now, IE8 I think most people can accept is going to end up in IE6's current place. It's the IE dead end for XP, a hugely popular OS. But IE7? None of those companies that don't upgrade upgraded to IE7. Home users that upgrade will also have installed the IE8 upgrade. So you're left with what? Unpatched Vista installations. These are much rarer than unpatched XP installations simply because Vista had a shorter lifespan, and Windows Vista to 7 is sufficiently undramatic an upgrade for the types of people who would take years to go from XP to Vista.

So so far we have:

  - IE6 will drag on as long as XP does.
  - IE7 won't last particularly long. While it's popular now,
  earlier Vista computers will be replaced in the close 
  future (2-3 years), causing it to lose market share to IE8.
  - IE8 will have a long lifespan, although probably not as long as IE6.
IE9? IE9 has never been shipped by default with any version of Windows. That means anyone who installed it did decide to upgrade. These users will likely upgrade away, meaning in the future, IE9 will be even more of a non-issue than IE7.

IE10 will likely also go the way of IE7. While it will be installed by default on Windows 8, the amount of dramatic changes in W8 will scare off many of the companies that are slow to upgrade.

So in 5 years time, what versions of IE will realistically you need to support?

  - IE6 (maybe - probably, hopefully, enterprise only at this stage)
  - IE8
  - IE10 (enterprise will never use it because Win8 is scary and different to them
  so for home users only)
  - IElatest-1 So IE13 or something?
  - IElatest IE14 or something.
Needing to support IE6 and IE10 will likely be mutually exclusive, so that's 4 versions for sites targeted at home users and 5 for sites aimed at both enterprise and home users. Still ugly, but far from 72. And all those versions will be dead in the timescale that the article is using. Insofar as IE6 will ever die, anyway.

IE6 for home users will be dead at that point. Most of those old early XP computers will be "broken" and replaced, even if "broken" is just slow and annoying. Using XP in five years will be like using Win98/Win2k. Yes, people do use them. No, they aren't a large enough group for most to worry about. I even have a small amount of hits from Netscape 6. I haven't a clue what my page looked like for them, and don't care.

In theory, if even IE is aiming for at least yearly releases from now on, no future IE will end up in the position that IE6 is in, and that IE8 will find itself in, as upgrading your browser frequently becomes a fact of life. The compatibility modes will be much less important too, as the shorter lived the browser, the less likely that the compatibility mode for it will ever be used.

(Sidenote: Sorry for the kludgy lists. HN has no proper formatting for them, and they were causing horizontal scrollbars)

IE6 is down to 1.25% in North America. It's dead. Please stop supporting it so people really get the message.

IE7 is 5.25%. Probably slow moving corporations. Some of these guys won't upgrade to IE8/IE9 until they're forced to. So, let's stop supporting IE7 so they're forced to upgrade.

IE8 will be around for a couple of years.

IE9 is around 11.5%. Probably consumers who will gladly upgrade to IE10.


IE6 is down to 1.25% in North America. It's dead. Please stop supporting it

I wish. Our B2B ecommerce system has 34% IE6 usage, as of last week (although this has shrunk by half over the past year or so). I cannot tell 1/3 of our users to shape up -- especially since the ones that aren't upgrading are doing so because they're so big it's incredibly difficult for them. In other words, the ones still in IE6 are also the 800lb gorilla customers, to whom we can't make such demands.

Same here. I currently work for a company that sells office supplies (not exciting, but it pays the bills). We get lots of traffic from corporate types, schools, offices etc and have high numbers for IE6/7.

I would love to stop supporting it, but my boss is unwilling to just stop earning the £100k+ a year they bring in.

What I'm getting at is that you should support what matters to your business. If your users are IE based, then you must support IE, plain and simple.

Working in B2B in the UK, many companies (especially financial services and government) are still heavily entrenched in IE6.

While my default position is to build for modern browsers, these kind of clients will insist on IE6 support, and however much it goes against our best intentions sometimes the customer's insistance is final.

I think it's absolutely fine to tell them you develop using the latest standards and you charge more when you have to develop for expired or non standards.

Indeed, but sadly they'd rather pay me more than fix their browsers!

Sometimes our company is developing sites for internal systems. We have to support IE6 only, cannot use any plugins and even cannot use Javascript (it's blocked). We call this a challenge, not a sad thing...

How well would they respond to enticements instead of demands? I'm thinking something along the lines of "get these new features for free if you upgrade to an HTML5-capable browser."

Yep, progressive enhancement. Have features that only show up for modern browsers, and announce them separately or at the top of any upgrade/version announcement or changelog.

I'm not sure that would work - in my experience, the reason that they are still on IE6 is they have hundreds of seats to upgrade and, more importantly, the entire network has been totally locked down over the years to deal with IE6 issues - giving the network admins a known surface to protect.

For example one of my client's clients has a rule that disallows Ajax HTTP POSTs - when I asked why they said "security - and it's not going to change".

So upgrading isn't a technical or a feature request - it's a total mindset change.

While you assessment of the browser situation some years from now, is far less depressing than the picture Paul Irish paints, you're ignoring his point that not only will we have to deal with different versions of IE, but on top of that, we need to regard all of the different render-modes/document-modes that will possibly be integrated in future IE versions, for the sake of compatibility. It is by that line of reasoning, that Paul Irish makes the assumption that we'll be targeting some 72 different "browser versions" in 2020.

"Doctor, doctor it hurts when I have to support 10 versions of IE"... errr... "Then don't that!"

Only support the last two version. Warn people who come to your site that they are using an outdated and unsupported browser. Point them to Chrome, Firefox and Opera, which are all free.

Cut the Gordian Knot:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordian_Knot

As IE6 has died, I think we've kinda lulled into some sort of complacency and I don't see heavy campaigning for browser upgrades currently.

I'd be happy to see it, and like I mention, prompting a IE7 user to upgrade to IE9 is currently just irresponsible.

But for Pete's sake, only warn them once. Every time I visit Hotwire with an unstable version of Firefox, it reminds me to upgrade my browser with an obnoxious pop-up.

> Meanwhile, you won't have to worry about supporting Firefox 6 or Chrome 13 in November.

You sure about that? Just because they're not officially supported doesn't mean a significant number of people won't still be using them.

As of about a week ago, when Firefox 6 was the current release, the Firefox numbers looked like this (source is http://groups.google.com/group/mozilla.dev.planning/msg/d1d4... ):

  Firefox 5 is < 10% and dropping.
  Firefox 4 is < 5% and dropping.
Those are percentages of Firefox market share, not overall market share. So those correspond to somewhere around 2% and 1% of overall users respectively. Note that in November Firefox 6 will be in the position of Firefox 4 right now.

Also from the same post:

  The uptake curve got steeper between 5 and 6, which means
  more people are updating faster.

"The uptake curve got steeper between 5 and 6, which means more people are updating faster."

You have to wonder how much of that is a selection effect. Since there was a change in the upgrade tempo in firefox, you'd expect to see the uptake curve get steeper even if overall user behavior hasn't changed, because the users that were on 5 when 6 came out would tend to be the more adventurous ones.

Edit: in other words, ff 5 didn't have as much time to accumulate less-adventurous users as ff 4 did, so the 5->6 transition will appear faster than the 4->5 transition.

Yeah, that's a good question. It's hard to disentangle the effects given the available aggregate numbers. We'll see how things look going forward.

Chrome 13 will definitely be gone. You can verify the data.


Mozilla has more of a problem getting people to upgrade but I think they will if simply nudged.

>Mozilla has more of a problem getting people to upgrade but I think they will if simply nudged.

I'm guessing both Mozilla and the users are holding back a bit until they get more confident with the add-on situation.

For Firefox it may take a few months since they don't do auto-updating like Chrome does, but almost everyone transitions to the latest version of Chrome in a matter of days.

Firefox auto-updates. Where does this idea that it doesn't come from?

It auto-updates, yes, but not like chrome does.

Firefox downloads a ~15MB update that might cause unacceptably bad performance, or even not complete in an ordinary browsing session for users on slow connections.

Chrome downloads a assembly diff on the order of a few kilobytes, disassembles its own binary, patches and rebuilds on the client machine, completely transparently and without intervention of any sort.

> Firefox downloads a ~15MB update

It depends on what you're updating. If you're updating from 3.6 to 4.0, across 18 months of work, then yes.

If you're updating from Firefox 6 to Firefox 7, say, then the update for Firefox on Windows is 6.5MB. The Mac updates are bit bigger because they're updating fat binaries. You can see for yourself at http://releases.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases... -- the partial.mar is the update from 6.0.2 to 7.0.

> Chrome downloads a assembly diff on the order of a few > kilobytes

As of 2009, Chrome Courgette updates were about 80KB (compared to Chrome bsdiff updates of 700KB; bsdiff is what Firefox uses). This was for a total download of about 10MB.

At this point the total Chrome download size is a lot bigger; they have a lot more code; I would be surprised if their updates are smaller than 200KB. Or do you have data indicating otherwise?

One more thing. Courgette (Google's update tool) only works on x86 code last I checked. That may be one of the reasons they're not shipping a 64-bit Chrome even in environments where that's expected, like recent MacOS. And we'll see what happens when they port Chrome to ARM...

bsdiff, for all its faults, does not have those problems. Now 200KB is still a good bit smaller than 6MB. And I agree that for users on slow connections this can be a problem. That problem is becoming pretty rare in the US, Europe, an East Asia, though.

Honestly, IE doesn't worry me anymore. Chrome does. Seems like every month there's new Chrome-only experiments, and Google provides Chrome-only extensions like offline Docs. Is it too much to ask for cross browsers sites?

FUD - you don't have to support every browser. And it's especially disingenuous to say that if you're developing websites/web applications you should care about, say, IE20 users running in IE 5 compatibility mode.

I had a similar thought, but as the author points out in a thread here, it is still largely legitimate for library authors.

I think that this article puts a large amount of speculation that M$ will continue to operate the same way. While I dont think anyone wants to BET on them doing the right thing, the people upstairs do understand money, and they also understand two of their biggest competitors (Google and Apple) both put out better browsers than they have. IE9 showed that they at least understand the importance of the web browser, and I would hope they would continue along that path with 10. Another thing is that web browsers are rapidly changing and evolving, I know Google is involved with a program now that allows C++ to run natively in the browser. In 2019, browsers could be COMPLETELY different than they are now. Backwards compatibility could become a forgotten term by that point, or browsers could operate totally different than they do now. I think a lot of what was written is true as far as the pain of past browsers, but speculating on the future is often a fool's errand.

I thought this was interesting.


IE isn't going to have advanced CSS3 support until version 10! However, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Mobile Safari, and Android browser all support it already. It just seems that Microsoft is incapable of staying on the edge.

The important part on that page is: Working Draft. Microsoft has committed to supporting standards, as soon as they are standards. It's certainly arguable whether it's a good idea to implement draft standards that people write HTML for that then change under them.

Also, this kinda seems like cheating: "While only recently a W3C specification, this system has been in use for some time by Mozilla and Apple for interface purposes." So they codified something that Mozilla and Apple were already doing, then said that older versions of the browsers already supported the non-existent standard. Impressive.

"Working Draft. Microsoft has committed to supporting standards, as soon as they are standards."

As you can see in the example pixelcloud cites, Microsoft does in fact implement features based on working drafts. They are already doing this with CSS3 transforms and will be doing so with CSS3 gradients, animations, transitions and flexbox. Therefore, that doesn't actually appear to be the issue at all.

"It's certainly arguable whether it's a good idea to implement draft standards that people write HTML for that then change under them."

Well, we are discussing CSS here, and that's what vendor prefixes (which Microsoft uses, too) help avoid.

"So they codified something that Mozilla and Apple were already doing,"

This is basically how the CSS3 standard progresses. Browser vendors implement a vendor-prefixed feature, and that feature works its way through the standards process. In fact, Microsoft does the same: http://caniuse.com/css-grid

The thought that occurs to me is that the adoption graph has a lot less to say about the suckage of supporting IE6, and a lot more about the suckage of being a Microsoft user.

Users of other browsers are on systems and/or workplaces which allow them to upgrade their browsers within reasonable time as new versions come out.

The MS-dedicated shops (and yes, I'm aware that most are large hidebound organizations, enterprises, and/or government entities) are stuck in their own labyrinths of fragile, massively interdependent, legacy systems.

This suggests to me that the modern vs. legacy browser war may actually be a proxy for ossified vs. agile organizations. There's still a great deal of power in the ossified side, but it will be interesting to see how comparative advantage plays out over the next 5-10 years (assuming the zombie apocalypse doesn't strike first).

IE is out of step with the other browsers and no longer has a majority market share.

So there's two options: 1. Innovate quickly and have access to amazing new browser features, but only cater to 60% or so of the market. 2. Support 100% of the market, but with considerable more effort (slowing you down).

Both approaches are legitimate. I prefer the first one, but the users who can't use my sites are going to want something equivalent for their outdated browser.

Briefly: facebook timeline is terrible. Even Chrome can hardly cope with all the javascript and reflowing as you load a profile page. There's no way in hell IE6 on XP will be able to cope with it -- the rendering engine, OR EVEN the cpu. Maybe that's the whole idea - Facebook could be Microsoft's best way of forcing people to abandon IE6 (and so XP). Semi-seriously, semi-approvingly I ask: Conspiracy?

I don't think Facebook has supported IE6 for a long time, at least that was the case when I tested it 6 months ago.

you're probably right and I didn't know that. But all of what I said probably applies to ie7 or even 8.

Not conspiracy, just synergy! (I'm not sure if I'm being serious or sarcastic myself...)


IE 7 is less than 5% market share now, almost the same as IE 6. I don't see how this predicts a future with 72 versions of IE. And how is this any different than Firefox? I am running Firefox 4 on my office computer - can't upgrade because of IT policy.

You're wasting your time if you worry about legacy browser support. Period. For every legacy browser out there--a number which only grows in spurts when a browser becomes "legacy"--there are maybe a 1,000(,000) shiny new browsers being shipped daily. Which do you care about? A stagnant legacy count, or a growing demand of new, mostly compatible, mostly upgradable browsers?

When I first read that there are 76 browsers to support, I was thinking... Hmm, yeah this versioning thing is going out of hand. But it was Chrome + FF + Opera + Safari + 72 versions of IE. Seriously? Projecting all the way to IE20 (2022) with a compatibility mode between any two versions of IE?

Help me understand this, is the issue that IE users are not willing to upgrade to newer versions? or is it that Firefox/Chrome force users to upgrade while IE doesn't?

Why is the fast release cycle a problem for IE but not for Firefox and Chrome? why are the adoption charts different for IE than the rest?

The issue is mainly with the large companies, who primarily seem to be using IE. Due to their size, they can't auto-upgrade without incurring massive costs.

For the average consumer, it's not really a problem.

Chrome makes you to auto-update and you can't disable it.

So in a few years from now, you'll be supporting one version of Chrome, one version of Firefox, one of Opera, (probably) one of Safari, and ten versions of IE.

I think the nightmare scenario couldn't possibly play out this way. We've all seen what really happens when there are too many browsers to support; web developers drop all pretense of supporting the least popular browsers, which would in a case like this be Opera, Safari, and maybe Chrome. And sites put up banners telling users to upgrade to the latest version of IE.

"Personally, I'm totally happy supporting the latest version of each of the five browsers."

Yeah, so would we all. That's not really an argument.

The Google Chrome version adoption chart very much drives home the difference between chrome and IE!

a dose of reality, and it's really a shame.

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