EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Google Shuts Down IE6? Hope hope?

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Every developer's plea* of "Dear MS: Make IE6 die pls. k thx." was brought one more giant step towards fruition. In my inbox this morning was the following from Google:
In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5. As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar.

Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above.
Yes, this is where you smile and sigh and possibly float a little. It's okay. I'll wait.

But maybe you're saying "Wait a second, IE6 is just a little older. What's the big hubbub?

The Big Hubbub about IE6

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international group that works to develop a set of standards for how websites should be coded. And if browsers followed their recommendations, all would be well: A website viewed in IE6 would look the same as IE7 and 8 and Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera...

But all has never been well in the world of internet browsers. As a matter of fact, until Firefox 3 and IE7, the land of web development was a sad and desolate place full of angry programmers yelling at their computers at how a website would show up in a particular version of a particular browser because that version didn't follow a W3C spec.

All is not milk and honey quite yet, but it's getting better. Word on the street is Opera is the most compliant, but if you develop in Firefox and fix for IE bugs, you'll probably be fine - just check it in all of them to be sure.

The IE6 Scent Lingers

The souring of development continues. Why? IE6 is still alive and remains the biggest W3C compliance mess out there. Based on the January 2009 numbers, the browser still has a little over 10% of the market share.

But there is hope with the note from Google. There is hope that IE6 will just die, will go away forever. How practical that hope is, only time will tell. All we can do is educate people and spread the word.

So what's your favorite browser? Do you stick with a version of Internet Explorer, shun all but Safari, give Google love on Chrome, or something else? I'd love to hear from you.

* I am personally aware that there are multi-million dollar corporations with active web apps that will not function properly in any browser except IE6. For those developers we weep, say a little prayer, and hope corporate gets on the stick with that, our small exception.

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