Well, here's another anti-IE6 (Internet Explorer 6) article to go with the 254,000 I found
on Google recently. While many of IE6's detractors are web designers or web developers, we can certainly put on the board some greater flaws in Microsoft's browser than the extra amount of working hours put by professionals to optimize websites for it.
In the past, several security vulnerabilities plagued the browser in the eyes of a lot of industry experts, many of them actively recommending some of IE's rivals as more secure browsers to use.
There are many news articles across the web, which report on vulnerability flaws. For example, this one on The H Security
, or Computer World
. Let's not even explore our Security
news sections that are full with all kinds of Internet Explorer 6-related stories.
In the past few years, IE6 has revealed many security flaws that had serious consequences on user privacy. From ActiveX holes to SSL certificates, from drive-by installs to code injections, IE6 managed to get itself time after time, year after year in Secunia's Security Report.
But all bad things lead to something good. While constantly trying to improve on its browser's security, Microsoft's later products have been recognized as some of the safest environments for Internet browsing these days, as an NSS Labs study
has shown. All being started from the poor release that IE6 was.
Well, in this case, dear developers, users and other IE6 haters, your wishes have been fulfilled. Studying recent sources on the web, we found some clues that led us to believe that the browser's days are counted. Counted to what, or when? Its end of life (EOL) deadline: July 13, 2010, according to Microsoft's page
But as seen before, an EOL deadline has never stopped users from employing a deprecated product and surely won't push those IE6 users to upgrade. So, you would practically need some bigger signs that IE6 is on its way out. Probably for good.The start: Community propaganda
For years, developers have been involved in many anti-IE6 campaigns. Some of them have aggressively campaigned against IE6, requesting Microsoft to stop support for it and quickly issue a more compliant browser. Some of them have worked with banners, petitions, forum signatures, anti-IE6 websites and even commercial clothing products.
For sure this has not even scratched the armor on Microsoft's support for IE6, maybe because the support in these campaigns came strictly from web developers and designers that have just had enough of weird CSS margin or padding interpretations, wacky alignments and PNG transparency issues (don't even get us started on this, here are some fixes
for this problem).
Along the years, some of the more successful campaigns came from pro-Firefox developers. Choosing not to be negative and not bash IE6, these supporters have proposed a Gandhi way in fighting for web standards compliancy. By simply putting “These website can be viewed at its maximum with Mozilla Firefox” banners, or even small recommendations in the web pages they developed, people started to take notice not just of Firefox, but “alternatives” altogether. Soon, Opera, Safari or Chrome made their way in the hearts of users that were discovering not only equally better software, but communities at the same time.
Take for example Mozilla and Chrome. These browsers have such a huge following from developers and users alike that people spend more time installing plugins and add-ons than they would have spent installing the browser itself.
Another pretty good campaign came from .Net Magazine. The project was (still is) named BringIE6down
and called for users to put one of the banners on their websites to raise awareness about the outdated browser and move to a more modern browser.
Maybe the most successful one was IE6nomore
, on which we previously reported
, that saw some big names get into it. Currently, as we inspect their home page, we can see that Weebly, Reddit, Justin.TV, WhitePages, Posterous and TwitLuv have joined the campaign and have their pages protected by IE6nomore's script.
One of the biggest signs a company will ever get is when the world’s most accessed video sharing platform and one of the top 5 most accessed websites (currently #4 according to Alexa) is greeting
visitors using IE6 with a message like this one, “We will be phasing out support for your browser soon. Please upgrade to one of these modern browsers,” and then provides download links for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer 8.
Many experts, at the time of the incident, have placed this decision from Google (YouTube owners) as a strike in the Second Browser War currently on its way among Microsoft, Opera, Mozilla and Google itself. Sabotage is what they've cried, but few knew the fact that at the time, Microsoft had pulled out for quite some time from HTML5 development, and still wasn't scoring high enough on the ACID3 tests
(compliance to Internet standards) with its browsers.
Actually, scores went up pretty slow. From IE6's 12/100 to IE7's 14/100 and to IE8's 20/100. While the development version of IE9 scored 32/100, Google, Opera and Mozilla (still involved in HTML5 development) were anticipating another disaster from Microsoft in web standards compliancy, as it happened in the early years of the decade when IE and Netscape created this huge mess in web developing.
That move was a big and firm foot put down by Google, that later saw Microsoft actively return to HTML5 and CSS3 development in the W3C working groups. Unlike the period at the start of the decade when browser companies had some liberties in developing products, these days, we can say without any fear that Google controls the way the Internet develops. And it made a big statement when it refused to deny access for a browser with such a big share on the market just because its lack of compliance had brought too much work for their support department at YouTube. For sure, every support department anywhere in the world will stand firm alongside Google for that decision.
Consequences: Statistics go down
With a constant flow of new releases from major industry players, IE6's statistics have constantly gone down from their peak in November 2003 (71.2% market share) to an all-time low in October 2009 of only 10.6%. And while the EOL date comes closer and closer, it is anticipated (and awaited) for the statistics
to drop under 4-5% until the end of the next year, officially making it a “not-that-much-important browser” (made up the category).The most recent blow: Envato drops IE6 requirement
There is no good developer or designer that does not know about Envato these days. The web marketplaces and tutorial websites that it manages are more than a hit, reaching a phenomenon status in recent years. ThemeForest, the marketplace for web themes and templates, has recently made public through a blog post
that it will no longer force developers or designers that opt to sale their templates through their service to be compliant with IE6 browsers.
So, what does this mean? Judging by recent statistics that have the number of websites at around 4 billion, we can see a trend for everyone getting online. And because not everyone has skills or any kind of idea of where to start when building a website, many people call on agencies or freelancers to build their websites. Since the demand for websites will be going up for sure in the next few years, an even higher success is anticipated for sites like ThemeForest or Template Monster that supply users with ready-to-use websites.
No IE6 compliance will surely mean that many IE6 users will no longer get support for many websites across the web, hence they will have to update pretty soon. Also, it will mean that a greater number of developers will supply ready-made templates through Envato, ensuring a phase-out of IE6-supported websites.
All in all, IE6 can't be called a success for Microsoft, drawing more criticism than praises, and a lot of bad publicity from all corners of the web.