ie6 on the way out

| 38 Comments

Thousands of Web developers will soon be able to breathe a big sigh of relief. Microsoft's IE 6 really is on the way out.

In really rough numbers, IE 6 has been losing about 20 points per year. That's freefall! Just take a look at that line and what it represents and then ask yourself, "what can I do to kill off IE 6?"


data for this chart is courtesy of Net Applications browser market share report.

The only question is how quickly this will happen. I think it will definitely fall under 10% by the end of this year, and it's not at all unreasonable that it would fall to low single digits if Firefox has a really good year.

There is a floor considering that IE 7 and 8 won't be available for pre-XP SP2 users, but fortunately that's a very small percentage of the global market. (Hey Opera, how about seriously targeting those users since you guys are the only modern browser left supporting ancient versions of Windows?)

So you've got my prediction. Now it's your turn. How low and how quickly do you all think IE 6 will go?

38 Comments

Quite good (although expected) news.
I know that by the end of the year, I'll stop testing my stuff with IE6 and just forget about it. And I mean professionally (at work), because I've already stopped caring about IE6 for my personal site.

Problem is there's still too many enterprise/corporate companies who locked themselves forever into IE6 through their internal intranet applications or god knows what and they still refuse to update or replace them with standard compliant apps. How long more can they procrastinate, even Microsoft won't support IE6 forever.

As for all web developers/designers facing the Internet, STOP SUPPORTING IE6, PERIOD. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME HACKING AROUND IE6, EVEN GOOGLE DOESN'T WANT TO SUPPORT IE6 ANYMORE. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

How about a platform, like "go-away-ie6.com", supported by all browser vendors (why not including Microsoft?), with the sole goal to further reduce the market share of IE6 as quickly as possible.

Something like "Spread Firefox", only with the goal of spreading "anything replacement for IE6".

"Spread Firefox" will have a difficult time promoting Firefox as their non-IE6-browser, because it's not working on ancient platforms any more.

I'll certainly do what I can to further reduce this piece of crap. :)

I know at my company, we just finished deploying IE7 to everyone. Only a few Windows 2000 servers still have it. That is a good 300 or so computers that have been converted in the past month.

If I had it my way of course, everyone in the company would all be using Firefox (especially given the better security and the fact it is simply better), but that decision is out of my hands. I am just a little help desk tech. But IE7 is still quite an acceptable upgrade for those poor IE6 users.

Of course, now that we did this, IE8 will probably come out and the cycle will start all over again.

Sooner or later companies still using IE6 for legacy intranet purposes will have to come to terms with the open web and install a capable browser as well as IE6. That way their employees can carry on using the real web and drop back to an intranet only IE6 where necessary.

Bit off-topic:

I hope 800x600 resolution will die soon as well

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_display.asp

So many people are still using very small web site layouts just to make those old monitor users happy.

Vygantas, Net Applications has a much larger and more diverse sample than W3Schools so I'd trust their numbers a bit more. NA says there are less than 5% of users accessing the web with resolution of 800x600. That's down 3 full points from a year earlier so I think that it's a safe bet that the overwhelming majority of sites can now or very soon discount 800x600 as a desktop resolution.

That being said, the small screen devices are growing some, both with mobiles and netbooks, so maybe we'll see something of a reversal. All the more reason to make a site that displays well across various resolutions or groups of resolutions.

- A

The date I look forward to is End of June 2010. This is when support for Windows 2000 will be dropped. This not only means that IE 5 will reach its end, but also that only IE8-capable OS's will be available.

Sadly, XP's (thus IE6's) support will end in far 2014, but I doubt IE6 will still be a problem then.
As for Vista and IE7, their normal support will end in 2012. But Vista isn't really succesfull, so that may not be a real problem anyway.

Well, I'm really eager to see this year's movements in the browser market.

I know you just used the words 'free fall' as a cool sounding term. But if it truly was free falling then it's market share decrease would be getting faster over time not slower.

To me it vaguely looks like an exponential decrease which means that we could see it handing around in some small % for quite a time yet, but also it might not be approaching 0%, but something largee like 2%, 5% or 10%, we'll just have to see.

Damian,

If you want to be pedantic (and it seems you do), IE6's drop in marketshare is getting faster over time. From 80 to 60 is a loss of 25% in market share. From 40 to 20 is loss of 50% of market share.

@Anon
Have those people tie their internal web app to a shortcut with a custom icon that launches IE just for that purpose. Anything else they need to do on the web they'll do with firefox (if necessary, launched from a shortcut featuring the IE icon and using an IE theme)

A world without ie6?
It's like no pain on my back anymore.

Sorry for double posting, but I keep forgetting this blog takes less then and more than symbols as HTML, please ignore my above comment and here's it posted correctly:


@Nosredna

Free fall has an exact meaning: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-fall

Obvious gravity isn't the force here, but you'd at least expect the graph to be parabolic-esque is someone is to use such a term. Also you clearly have a very limited understanding of mathematics, if it's free fall then you'd expect dM/dt < 0 and dM/dt_i > dM/dt_j where M is market share, t is time, t_n is a point in time and t_i < t_j.

I understand I was being a little pedantic, but the least you could of done was look up what the term meant before you pick 2 parts of the graph and think it proves something it doesn't.

This is good, I hate IE.

Please kill it!

Thanks for this short article. All web developers should see this and realize that only they can help bring IE 6 down once and for all!

@Anon: Shit does not work that way. Chances are, if someone is still using IE6, it is someone who can't upgrade, and by not supporting the browser you shut those people out. Now, if 20% of your visitors are IE6 users, you will lose a lot of readers by doing that.

On a side note, I still have IE5.5 visitors, but I suspect these are faked UAs from old spambots or something.

Damian,

According to several dictionaries, free fall can simply mean "rapid uncontrolled decline" or "a sudden sharp decrease in some quantity," so don't give me that crap about it having it has an exact meaning. In physics, it does, but clearly, when we're talking about browser share, we're not speaking about physics.

I was being silly, going along with your idea that the statement in the original article had physical meaning, and you didn't seem to notice. (Or maybe you did notice and you're being ironic.)

Even a statement with just a single sample can qualify. "The Dow is in free fall today, having already lost 450 points."

Unless someone drops a physical copy of IE6 in a vacuum, I don't think any of us are interested in whether the drop is parabolic.

And you're presumptuous if you think I don't know much math. I've probably had more math in school than you have, and I used higher math heavily in my job for years. In fact, I'm so full of math, differential equations drip out of my nostrils if I stand up too quickly.

My New Year resolution ... No more IE6 support!

I recently worked on a project to post tutorials. Building the project for IE7, Firefox and Safari took me a few weeks .... then it took me another week to get it to work in IE6 ... what a waste of time and resources.

How important are the IE6 uses?! If I know a page won't work in IE6 then in future projects the user will get forwarded to an "upgrade your browser" page.

I agree with Anon ... "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

Thank you for the great post Asa.

I really like this solution too an IE6 blocker. I am building a site which will be putting it in place http://css-tricks.com/ie-6-blocker-script/

@anon2:

Rather then blocking IE6 users (which is simply annoying to users, so you're most likely never see them again) you should explain the situation in layman terms.
After that, if they understood you and are able to upgrade they may really do it.

I don't think that as a normal webmaster I have to do anything with regards to IE6, I just ignore it at testing time and hope that whoever comes with such browser updates when he finds that most of the pages are looking bad everywhere he goes.

About the graph:
Can you remove the empty 2009 and overlay the release dates of IE7, Vista, Firefox 2 and 3?

@Nosredna

Great, you've been to school and done lots of maths and used it in a job, so have I.

Asa seems to have not let through one of my comments of why it's not actually that pedantic. But I don't really care. I didn't do a degree in physics, I did mine in maths, so I don't automatically think of a term as physical or informal and you can apply formal definitions of free fall to non-physical things but nevermind.

Even if you think of it in that informal definition of "rapid uncontrolled decline" , it's still wrong as their is nothing uncontrolled about moving users from IE6 to IE7 through a regular windows update.

It's still sad for developers in Thailand. If you see Thai communities statistics. You will find out that IE6 still has 50% of the Thai market share while IE7 takes around 40%.

This is bad, so bad!

source: http://truehits.net/graph/graph_stat.php#WEB

Looks like you've chosen to ignore the slowdown this year. 20%? No, more like just 10% fall. IE6 could vanish from the internet tomorrow and it still wouldn't be any relief until Microsoft force slams IE8 down every interpipe out there in this big old globe of ours.

What it interesting (based on my website's stats) is that IE6 usage is much higher on work days than on weekends (18-20% compared to 10-12% on weekends). It shows that most of people has already migrated to something newer at their homes. It is now time for IT stuff at our working places to make a move.

pd: he said "in really rough number". Besides, for 2008, it went from 35% to 20%, which means a 15% drop, not 10%.

While we're at it... let's get rid of all nuisances simultaneously: IE6, Comic Sans MS, people who type "alot", toilet seats that don't stay up by themselves.

We don't want to be hypocrites, do we?

I always get a kick out of the IT guys who force everyone else to use IE6, but who are using Firefox in their office. :-)

@AlfonsoML: Quickly done, but should be correct - http://pici.se/pictures/ezPuWgbag.png

(Feel free to merge my comments)
@Stifu: Actually that's almost a 50% drop - or 15 percentage *points*.

Simon: yeah, I know, I expected someone would call me out on that... Just couldn't be bothered wording it better.

It's so obvious that you've never dropped a copy of IE6 in a vacuum!

Don't forget that a % don't mean much when you look at actual numbers behind them. If my online store was to have 1 million visitors I really don't want to lock out 20% of them or in real numbers 200000 that's just commercial suicide.

Secondly consider that this Christmas period in the UK the peak time for online shopping was a week day lunch hour therefore people were using there work computer most probably in an IE6 only environment - think about it.

Where I live, more than 50% of users are locked in to ie6 by their employer.
Recommendations to not support ie6,
or even to annoy these users with a message (however polite and carefully worded) that they are using inferior technology - a choice they have no power over -
are totally unrealistic.
in the real world, to target browsers in my region, I must target ie6.

Yes, it is costly to develop sites for lots of browsers (we regularly have to develop for IE6, IE7, FF2+ and Safari(on mac)). And besides time and cost can be very frustrating for our front-end developers.
But... we do not make that site for ourselves. It has a certain target audience and if that specific audience means 50% has IE6, then you simply have to develop for it. It does however get more annoying when the actual target audience is up to date with their browsers, but the organisation that hired you (like local government) is still on Win2000 and IE6. Then you develop a site with IE6 support for those 50 people within the organisation that actually look at their own site.
And if 20% IE6 users (according to Marketshare) is enough to ditch it, should we ditch Firefox (also 20%) support as well? Or are we still hoping it's market share will grow? What about Safari (7%)?
Again, I think it mostly depends on your site's specific target audience.

But yeah... ditch IE6 ;-)

No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its Ie6 and its terrible CSS support that makes me a Busy Bee!!!

As a freelancer 50% of my income comes from slicing up Photoshop files for web agencies, one of the main reasons I personally think most Web Builders give up on CSS is all down to IE 6, the amount of times I hear "we can get it to display in firefox and IE7 its just IE6".

So Im here saying "BRING BACK IE6 AND ITS TERRIBLE CSS SUPPORT", think of it as a cool pair a retro Adidas that you just cant bring yourself to throw away.

"Just cos its broke don't try n fix it!!!"

That fall is not fast enough. Damn IE6 is like a stubborn beast that won't just die. I really hope it's this year...
And when it happens I bet many of us will still have nightmares about it :)

- AAAAA!!!
- Honey, what's wrong? Why are you crying?
- That damn PNG won't work!
- What?!?!

Seriously now. I'm glad it's almost over. Die bastard! Die!

I can honestly say I won't cry over ie6... any more that is...

I switched to Firefox a long time ago and I develop my sites in Firefox... and nearly always forget to test them in that damn excuse of a browser (I'm sure this happens to everybody else).

It's almost always CSS not being read properly, and there's nothing more frustrating than carefully aligning all your elements until your page looks fantastic... then loading it in ie and seeing this gaps appear everywhere.

Indcidentally, ie7 s not that great a browser either, in my humble opinion.

Hoz

I hate that so many people still use it!! I also hate when I design a website, which looks brilliant in all other browsers, then I test it in IE6 and there are parts cut off, and gaps!

There are so many different browsers now that I think IE6's days are definitely numbered (heres hoping). I think the only people still using it are those that have a fairly old computer with an old OS installed, and I will make a sweeping generalisation by saying that these people aren't regular users of the internet anyway. I think that Google Chrome will become one of the most popular browsers in the not so distant future once people catch onto its speed and usability...

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