IE6 - 10 years old and counting

September 3, 2011, 9:21 pm
Author: James Griffiths

In an industry where innovation is the norm and today's hottest release becomes tomorrow's forgotten relic that's a pretty impressive achievement. Who would have thought that a piece of software which, at the time of its release, was heralded as ground breaking only to later become the object of scorn, ridicule and frustration would have surpassed the 10 year mark?

And though that browser is a sore point for most front-end developers, with its numerous bugs and quirks, it's easy to forget just how ahead of the road it was back in 2001. The much improved CSS support compared to earlier browser versions (a point which may be hard to believe now given its often frustrating behaviour), enhanced XML rendering and a much more polished and refined user interface was lauded by industry professionals.

That was then however and this is now, and the journey between those two points has been a very rocky one indeed. As pure flash websites declined in popularity (and practicality) and interest switched to CSS and HTML it became obvious that IE6 was actually holding front-end development back. With its often bizarre and inexplicable treatment of CSS (which regularly forced developers to consult google and multiple forums in search of answers), numerous security flaws and Microsoft's slow browser release cycle - when contrasted to the likes of other browser manufacturers such as Mozilla, Google, Opera and Apple - IE6 quickly began to lose favour.

The problem was though that a lot of organisations had systems tied into IE6, such as CMS, CRM or finance oriented software, and a sizeable number of users weren't upgrading to IE7 or alternative browsers as a result. This left developer's having to support a piece of software which often worked against their own interest's and those of their client's. Additional time had to be allocated for bug fixing, certain methods supported by modern browsers couldn't be implemented and workarounds had to be found where needed.

The situation got so bad that even Microsoft joined the ranks of software companies advocating dropping use of IE6 in favour of more modern browsers, the irony of which was not lost on many industry professionals.

So, even with all the up and downs, the voices clamouring for its demise and multinationals such as Google and Facebook dropping support, here's to 10 years of IE6.

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