The IE6 countdown

Everybody (well, everybody who designs or builds websites for a living) wants people to stop using Internet Explorer 6. Even Microsoft does, so much that they recently launched The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown.

On the site, developers and website owners are encouraged to tell their IE6 visitors to upgrade. The site also shows current browser statistics per country so we can keep track of how IE6’s market share is shrinking.

At the time of writing, Norway and Finland are the only two countries where IE6 has less than 1%. Even on this site, IE6 still has 1.4%, though I wonder how many visitors that are logged as IE6 are real and how many are actually bots and crawlers of various kinds.

IE7 needs to go as well

It’s a good thing that Microsoft is working hard to get people off of IE6, of course. However, it would be even better if people still using IE7 were just as strongly encouraged to upgrade. IE7 is a huge improvement over IE6, but still a long, long way behind IE8 (which in turn is far behind IE9, which in turn is behind the others…). Generated content via :before and :after and display:table are just a couple of the CSS features that many want to use and IE8 supports but IE7 does not.

The XP problem

One problem with upgrading IE is that people using Windows XP can’t upgrade IE beyond IE 8. Since Microsoft’s upgrade banner by default sends all users to the Internet Explorer download page, XP users won’t be given the option to pick a more modern browser like Firefox, Opera, Chrome, or Safari.

Hello, alt text, where are you?

Then there is the upgrade message Microsoft suggests we use. It’s an image of text in a div element with inline CSS. That would have been somewhat acceptable if the image had at least been given a proper alternative text. Unfortunately the alt text is blank (alt=""). It’s hard to understand how they managed to get this wrong.

Update: The alt text has now been fixed. Thank you.

Other ideas

Chris Heilmann brings up these issues along with some others in Missing the point with, where he also posts some ideas on what Microsoft could do to get as many people as possible to upgrade.

Anyhow, the fewer people that use IE6, the better. If you find it hard to convince people (i.e. clients) to upgrade, maybe they will listen more carefully to the arguments when they come straight from Microsoft, so try pointing them to the IE6 Countdown site and the Counting Down Internet Explorer 6 Usage Share blog post. But do take the opportunity to inform them that there are non-Microsoft browsers to choose from.

Posted on March 7, 2011 in Browsers