As we say hello to a new year, we get to start with this piece of bright news coming today from Microsoft:

IE6 usage in the United States (and Czech Republic, Portugal, Philippines, Ukraine, and Mexico) is now less than 1%.

This is a major step towards reaching a world where IE6 support is no longer debated or considered a necessary evil. Kendo UI made this determination earlier in 2011 when, after polling our beta customers, we found that few people deemed IE6 support necessary. As such, we made IE7 the lowest supported IE browser for Kendo UI.

Of course, like any cancer, IE6 will not go easily. There are some lingering issues to contend with even as IE6 crosses below the 1% mark in the USA.

Enterprise Skewing

Sadly, while the general usage of IE6 in the US is now below 1%, other observations suggest that IE usage in the Enterprise may still be much higher. That means that virtually all of the IE6 usage in the US is in Enterprise, but that's really no surprise. It also means that IE6 is not as dead as we would prefer for the all important business focused web software (and tools).

Hopefully the straggling XP and Windows 2000 systems will get upgraded over the next year, and we can close the book on enterprise IE6 usage, too. Until then, if you're in an IE6 Enterprise, today's news from Microsoft is more ammo to use to convince IT to dump IE6. IE6 is broken.

Clingers

I find it fascinating to review the comments on posts like today's Microsoft news. Often the comments are more entertaining than the post. To my absolute shock, I found a number of people legitimately defending IE6. Here's the range of reasons commenters on the Microsoft post provided for keeping IE6:

  • IE6 UI was more customizable than newer IE versions
  • I'm still using NT4 and IE6 is the only browser I can use (not true)
  • 20% of Enterprise is still on IE6 (uncited)
  • I'm using Win2k and shouldn't have to pay to upgrade to use newer browsers (wow)

I get it. Change can be hard. But this is software, not a car. IE6 is more than 10 years old- ancient by software standards, especially Internet software. I don't mind if you want to continue using IE6, just stop expecting the world to bend to support it anymore than leaded fuel for cars.

New Possibilities

Have you ever stopped to think about what you can do once you stop designing with IE6 limiting your range of options?

What technologies can you more freely use when IE6 is not in the equation? Turns-out there are more than a few:

Unlocking safe use of more standard web technologies and reducing IE6-specific hack development time is a key reason we pulled IE6 support from the Kendo UI beta. Eliminating IE6 is more than a moral victory. It will literally unlock new possibilities for web development and make your sites easier to optimize.

What Will Happen in 2012?

We're at the beginning of a year, so it's a good time to make predictions. What will happen with IE6 this year?

Will usage in the US drop below .5%?
Will more countries join the "Champions circle" and kick IE6 to the curb?
Will China finally start to get IE6 usage under control?

If I had to guess, with IE6 global usage currently hovering at 7.7% (according to Microsoft), 6% less usage than this time last year, I predict IE6 usage will drop below 4% globally by the end of 2012. Maybe then we can end our discussions of IE6 for good and start working on IE7 and IE8.

Congrats, Microsoft, in making progress on solving this painful problem!


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About the Author

Todd Anglin

Todd Anglin is Vice President of Product at Progress. Todd is responsible for leading the teams at Progress focused on NativeScript, a modern cross-platform solution for building native mobile apps with JavaScript. Todd is an author and frequent speaker on web and mobile app development. Follow Todd @toddanglin for his latest writings and industry insights.

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