There's a large number of companies whose web capabilities need to support people who use their website while working at the companies that have older versions of IE.
Like who? Honest question. I know that not all users currently have modern browsers (which is total bullshit, by the way--with free, open-source browsers as well as Chrome and the like, there is no excuse for this) but this isn't something we should treat as anything but detestable and fixable.
As for "identical experience", I will have to disagree. I have no problem with gracefully degrading sites due to screen size or compute power, but there is no reason that desktop browsers should be permitted to render things differently from one another (and if the spec is ambiguous, we should fix the damn spec). Developers are lazy, or shortsighted, or both, and given the option of "Hey, works on my machine/browser/whatever", we should expect only annoying fragmentation.
There are thousands of users in major banks and financial institutions which still use IE and have NO plans on moving forward anytime soon. None.
I don't mean the users. I mean the companies. You really think the banks that LITERALLY control the world's economy are somehow going to be 'shamed' into upgrading their internet browsers? You might as well try shaming the moon into changing color.
I don't mean to sound condescending, but there's no other way to put this...the comments about browser support on this board show just how inexperienced many developers really are. We are not talking about installing Firefox or Chrome on a few PCs. We are talking about MASSIVE companies with BILLIONS (with a 'B') of dollars flowing through WORKING systems that have been tested into infinity and are the backbone of our economy. Should they upgrade? Sure. Will they? No. not until they've stretched the technology they are already running until it collapses.
This move by JQuery devs, I get it, but it's quickly pushing itself out of the realm of 'awesome' to 'annoyance', only suitable for small projects. I hope not, but that's what it looks like. Even 1.9.x deprecated some features that should have been left alone - we had to code them back in.
Which companies? Give us some names--that's why I'm proposing this list.
We always, always hear the same threadbare stories about mythical magical enterprise customers that can't/won't upgrade, and the little tail wags the dog, and the life for the rest of us is made harder.
All this for a use case which is basically hearsay and rumors.
As for inexperienced developers--I'll go and say that the experience I've had of watching bad compilers and system headers and christ only knows what else force native code to get uglier and uglier and less maintainable are what motivate me to try and discourage the same mistakes in Happy Web Land.
The web is barely twenty years old, arguably much younger--let's at least try and avoid sins we don't have to commit.
Edit: Or, you know, downvote me without explanation. That's pretty cool too.
I work at Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx, NY. Much of what I do is building intranet web apps. About a year ago they upgraded (yes, upgraded) to IE7. We have 18,000 employees, but let's say we have 10,000 computers. Upgrading all of those computers, verifying that all of the hundreds of apps provided by dozens of vendors used in scores of departments is a huge and expensive project. Healthcare in NYC is a business that earns you a margin of - if you're lucky - 1%. It is difficult to justify the cost
Note that I'm not a decision maker - in fact, I'm not even in the IT department. Please don't try to argue this with me, as I may be totally wrong about what their decision factors even were. Personally, my life would be much easier if they would upgrade, but I can understand why they have not.
No one working at that level is going to disclose their customers and the technology agreements they have. That would be business suicide (and would ruin lives). Again, this isn't mom and pop shop level stuff.
But I will give you a clue. Go find a list of the top 10 biggest banks in the United States. It's almost all of them. Then go find the biggest credit card companies. It's most of them.
The problem is that some of these big companies outsource their IT. They don't want to upgrade from, say, IE6 because they know it's going to cost them a FORTUNE.
I know of at least 2 big blue chip companies with this problem.
In fact, I once had a requirement that the software we write have it's own independant auth mechanism and NOT be linked to Active Directory, "because it costs us thousands every time we ask to add a user or change a role".
For the 'Like who?', I'm too lazy to check which companies are our customers that have a "can be used to endorse our service" clause, the categories off the top of my head are: major telecom providers, major PC sales companies, office furniture sales companies, major clothing companies, major beauty product companies. Note that this doesn't cover new companies or technology focused ones, there's a particular demographic that they are selling to that at a minimum browse their sites while at work. And after rereading everything, I may have been a bit ambiguous, so I'll clarify. People, while they are at work, use browser A because they work for shitty company X. While at work, they browse, add to cart and buy from an unrelated company. And for whatever reason, people buying from the unrelated company are disproportionately doing so while at work and working for a company with outdated browsers.
For the degradation, I especially don't mean a lazy approach. In fact, having good degradation is typically harder for newer developers (or requires them to check in more browsers). The core way to do it is to develop for what's common across browsers (what's handled the same way), then for ambiguities in the spec (does the border count as part of the width of a div or not?). Once that's done, you then add the extra. The idea is, if browser A supports, say, easily defined gradients on a button, but browser B doesn't, should we have a special case for browser B to load an image to give the identical gradient, or should we let it be a flat colored button? Or let's say a browser has some extensions that make client-side form validation easy and simple. Using that functionality for that browser makes sense, but is the development effort to do the validation on all browsers worth it when server-side validation will happen also? The functionality is the same, the experiences are both good, but the experiences are not identical.
It's pretty clear that you don't know many people who use IE8. What you're saying sounds nice in theory, but falls down in practice. Many people lack the knowledge of better browsers, or are simply afraid of changing, because they've learned how to use IE, and they don't want to learn a whole new set of routines. They don't use computers in the way you do, because they don't understand the underlying principles - they learn step by step how to do a task, and then they replay those steps every time, like an Excel macro. This is why, when something unexpected happens, they're helpless.
Switching browsers may break many of those macros, and at the very least, will be very uncomfortable for many.
Look, there are two camps: companies that refuse to run modern browsers, and individual users.
I posit that we should list the members of the former camp, and that we should educate the members of the latter camp. Changing from IE to Firefox to Chrome shouldn't be a big deal, and if we've only managed to instill idiot monkey-level tools usage in our users we have (as developers and human beings and tool-users!) failed.
You do not, do not want to encourage the intellectual sloth of these folks--it will come back to bite all of us.
You keep banging on this drum as if you're going to somehow name and shame big businesses for making perfectly reasonable business decisions.
Please understand that a web browser is just a software tool like any other. You don't install a web browser at your business so you can say you use some bleeding edge shiny. You install a web browser to get some useful job done. Much of the time, that involves accessing in-house systems. Some of the time, maybe it involves accessing the external WWW, perhaps to research or buy something. Supporting the latest browsers so everyone can spend even longer playing on-line games or posting on Facebook is, shall we say, not a business priority.
Now, please understand that perhaps the single most important attribute for most large businesses with significant IT operations and mostly non-technical staff is predictability. If everyone is running on a stable software foundation, then tools can be built on top of that foundation. If everyone is running the same version of their end user software, then help desk staff can provide canned step-by-step guides to doing things, or remotely access someone's machine to fix a problem or guide a user through a new process for the first time. If every server in a group is running the same operating system distribution then you only have to keep track of one set of security patches and apply them uniformly. And so it goes on.
In this context, it is entirely reasonable that businesses "refuse to run modern browsers". Your modern browsers do stupid things like moving the goalposts every six weeks (or every few months if you jump through special hoops to use a laughably named long-term support version). Your modern browsers include new technologies that introduce security and privacy risks we didn't have before. Your modern browsers break backwards compatibility and won't run the $5,000,000 bespoke CRM package on our intranet any more! And in most cases, your modern browsers offer no business benefit compared to the tried and tested tools already in use.
In short, while you may wish that everyone ran the latest shiny new browser, there are very good reasons why many big businesses don't. If you think the guys running IT for those places somehow didn't notice that there are other options or just can't be bothered to upgrade or suffer from "intellectual sloth" then you really have no idea how things work at that level at all.
I won't give you a name - but I know of a very large international company (hundreds off offices, tens of thousands of employees, etc.) that runs older versions of IE across much of their network. Some of it is budgets for testing newer versions. Some of it has to do with specific applications that are business-critical, but only work on older IE versions and haven't been updated / upgraded to run on new versions of modern browsers. It's easy to say "just upgrade" but large organizations just don't operate that way unfortunately.