IE6 Market Share and Support

Internet Explorer 6 has long been considered the bane of many a Web Developer - now almost 10 years old, for much of its life it has dominated the market place. Unfortunately, at the time of its creation implementing interoperable cross-browser standards was of significantly smaller concern than it is now - following W3C implementation standards only truly became a major concern for browser makers several years later, with the increasing complexities involved in building and maintaining websites, and the release of competing browsers. Internet Explorer 6 itself lacks support for many of the more advanced functionalities implemented by modern browsers, and has a buggy implementation of many others. Until recently, the browser's predominance has meant that a significant amount of time spent developing new websites has been concerned with accounting for IE6's inconsistencies, and coding features in an IE6 compatible manner. Some of its more irritating faults include:
  • Poor CSS2 support, causing rendering and display issues without bespoke IE6 fixes.
  • No support for transparent PNG images, one of the more useful tools for creating attractive websites.
  • No support for XHTML, the language in which the majority of modern websites are coded.
  • Significant security flaws, which were exploited in the recent attacks on Google and caused several governments to issue notices advising against the use of the browser.
  • No support for HTML5, and other future web technologies.
The last three of these issues are also true of Internet Explorer 7 and 8 - thankfully the as-yet-unreleased IE9 appears to be addressing some of the problems. Fortunately, thanks to the growing popularity of alternative browsers, and to Microsoft itself releasing IE8 and a 'Browser Choice' screen in Europe, IE6's market share has fallen drastically in recent years. A recent study showed that the browser now makes up around 6-13% of web traffic. This falling market share, combined with the browser's considerable idiosyncrasies have led to several major websites announcing a reduction of support for IE6, including Google and Digg. Hopefully as more users upgrade we can finally leave IE6 in the past, and embrace the feature-set of modern browsers fully. As part of its commitment to developing the highest standard of code possible for its customers, TJS is also ceasing dedicated support for IE6 - enabling us to focus on building more sophisticated, future-proof and maintainable code. And if you do happen to be using IE6 and have the opportunity to upgrade, I beg you to consider it, if only for the sake of my continued sanity. Below are some possible alternatives: Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer 8