End of the Line
Google just announced that as of August 1, 2011, it will no longer support Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.5, Safari 3, nor any other of their previous incarnations! Within the next year or two it seems inevitable that they will denounce Internet Explorer 8 as outdated as well and move onto better things. Has the end finally come for Microsoft’s two behemoths that have caused more pain than any web developer needs explain? If anyone can topple them, I believe that Google is the David to face off against Microsoft’s old Goliaths. With dwindling percentages of people using IE, it has just recently in the past few years lost its market share on web browsers.
Not everyone is happy about this. There are still many companies who still want to cater to these outdated browsers and no matter what you or I say about it, they will not sway in their opinions. The fact is, there are still people who use Internet Explorer 7 and some even still using the even more horrific, IE6! If clients are willing to pay for supporting these old browsers, then it’s not really anyone’s business but their own, but should the web work to conform back to shoddy, outdated, (and sometimes just wrong) standards just to make sure a small group of people can still properly look at a website in all its ugly glory? The answer is of course not!
The problem of course with this is the fact that many people who still use these browsers are people who are not technically inclined and probably don’t even know any better. Try explaining why Firefox is better than IE to a non tech savvy parent for instance and you’ll understand their mindset—it’s all they’ve known—and to many unfamiliar with the modern age of the web, are nervous to try anything new. My take on the situation has always been that if websites are breaking down and not functioning for people using any non-modern browsers, I say more power; anything to force people forward.
The truth is that they desperately need an upgrade, and if it takes them getting annoyed and not being able to properly view websites to carry out that, then that’s what should happen. It’s easy to see why this is a completely reasonable opinion to hold, and not just from a web developer’s standpoint either.
Take a look at it like this: Would an architect design a sleek, attractive new building to the standards arrived at 10-15 years ago? Should car manufacturers stop adding amazing new features because other older cars don’t have them? You can see how ridiculous the practice of designing for old versions of IE actually is. Yes, there is the chance that if somebody can’t view your website, they will not be able to see and potentially buy your product, but the fact remains. Why limit yourself from a technological standpoint to what once was when you can embrace the future and change with fascinating (and cool) new capabilities that can help web developers do their job better, quicker, and easier?
Modern browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera are not just better looking at things from a design standpoint either. The fact is, the world has changed, and hackers and spammers alike have gotten smarter. They know what works to gain access to older builds and will take advantage of them. Implemented in this new breed of browsers is increased security to help protect online transactions and other information you’d rather keep out of other people’s hands. This reason alone should be quite revealing to businesses about why it’s so important to transition out of development for outdated browsers.
…Hackers and spammers alike have gotten smarter. They know what works to gain access to older builds and will take advantage of them.
Adding in browser support for IE6 or IE7 to a website build project instantly adds on many, many hours of browser compatibility testing as a result. That is a fact. Time is money as they say, so be ready to pay if you’re one of the clients who seeks this. The amount of effort that a developer must put into making a website simply functional in old browsers is sometimes astounding—and all just to reach out to a very minuscule demographic that gets smaller each month. Internet Explorer 7 is the last beast people really want to bring down, and they’re beginning to set their sights on it even as I speak. Internet Explorer 8, while far from perfect, is a lot more acceptable in terms of development, especially since that for users stuck using Windows XP, this will be the last IE browser they can use. With Microsoft’s release of IE9 to the public and already talking about what’s coming with IE10 with Windows 8, the time for change is now.
The number of people browsing the internet on slow, old computers is forever dwindling as computers get cheaper, faster, and more accessible. It’s time to start using that CSS3 and HTML5 jargon you’ve heard about for the past year or two, and start implementing it into rich, web applications that can engage the user in ways that haven’t been seen. It’s time to fully explain to your client why your amazing, fresh design looks like trash on his crappy old work computer running IE6 and make them understand that with time comes change, and sometimes it’s better just to embrace it than forever be looking over your shoulder at those behind you.
Or you businesses could just give us a proverbial eye-roll, picking up your newspaper and ignoring the internet world, and continue to pay thousands of extra dollars for a website build that might hit 10-15% of your client base. It’s time to embrace the change and swallow the pill. Help make the web beautiful.
Just listen to your designers and developers. They are experts for a reason and know what is best for the world!