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Like it or not (and, frankly, I’m not sure who likes it), IE6 is not yet 100% dead. Try as is it might, the web developer community and even Microsoft have failed to put this ancient, broken browser in the dust bin more than 10 years after its introduction.

Fortunately, its numbers are finally dwindling. In the US, IE6 now claims less than 2% of total browser market share. It claims similarly low portions of browser share in virtually every other country except China. Worldwide, IE6 now counts for less than 10% of all browser traffic, and major services from companies like Google have already begun to stop serving this old browser.

That raises the question of the hour: Is it time for UI frameworks like Kendo UI to stop formally supporting IE6? Is it time to make IE7 the new IE6?

What’s the Harm?

An obvious follow-up question is, what’s the harm in continuing to support IE6? It’s just another browser, right? True, but it’s a very old, very broken browser. To offer “official” support for IE6, a framework like Kendo UI is committing to make all features, themes, and behaviors work in IE6 just as they would a new browser (and to be fair, even IE7 is not that new.)

From a technical perspective, the Kendo UI engineering team must jump through all variety of twisted hack to make sure IE6 works. These hacks ultimately “steal” development time from more valuable new feature development, and they clutter the JavaScript and CSS code bases, making it more difficult for you, the customer, to fully understand how Kendo UI works (and forcing you to deploy a framework carrying ugly IE6 hacks).

So, the harm is very real. Supporting IE6 is like chaining a lead ball to feature evolution.

What’s the Benefit?

That’s what we want to know. Is there still benefit for you, the customer, if Kendo UI supports IE6? Of course, we would all like a toolset that works in every browser ever created- and Kendo UI can be that- but it comes at a cost. Is the cost of IE6 worth it to support to a dwindling ancient browser population?

From our perspective, IE6, where it exists, is primarily supporting legacy applications in closed enterprise environments. Not the type of companies likely to embark on the HTML5, client-side development that Kendo UI enables.

But maybe we’re wrong. That’s why we’re asking now during the beta, so we can make the best choice for the official Kendo launch later this year.

Time to Cut the Cord

At some point, support for IE6 has to end. UI frameworks for the web have been reluctant to take the plunge, but maybe now is the right time. Only now, during the pre-release beta, do we have the opportunity to avoid a long future of IE6 hacks in the Kendo UI code base. If we ship v1 with IE6 support later this year, it will, at least to some degree, always be part of Kendo UI’s DNA.

All of this has no impact on other supported versions of IE. Kendo UI will continue to support IE7 and IE8, which means we won’t completely avoid all IE-specific hacks…yet. It just means IE7 becomes our new IE6.

Sound-off and Cast Your Vote

This is it! The place we will collect official feedback that will have a major impact on our decision to support IE6 in Kendo UI. Keep the support? Or cut it loose? Cast your vote in the poll below and leave a comment to let us know what you think.

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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