There has been a little bit of noise about the blogsphere recently about wanting to drop browser support for a certain browser this year. So here are the browsers I would like to stop supporting, why and why I will continue to support them.
Internet Explorer 7
This would of been a great browser if it was released in 2003, instead it was released in 2006. The improvements over IE6 were good but not worth waiting 5 years for. It still has a number of the IE6 idiosyncrasies that require work arounds. It is the most popular browser is common use today, and likely to remain so for another year, before succumbing to IE8. Still you and I will supporting it for a few years to come.
A fast, lightweight browser, which I was happy to use while in beta. Since it reached 1.0 release, I have become aware of a few short comings. It branched from the webkit evolution far too early and has not included recent improvements that other webkit browsers have. For example the problem with border-radius and box-shadow, lack of support for @font-face. In addition the Chrome renders type differently from all other browsers. Still while it has a decent market share for a new browser and the opportunity to improve exists, so it needs to be supported.
Internet Explorer 6
A great browser in 2001, which should of been replaced in 2003 and disappeared from view by 2006. It has a number of idiosyncrasies that require work arounds, and you have to spend considerable time after getting a design to work in IE6 after you had it working in more modern browsers. However, over two years after being replaced it still commands around 20% of the IE market share. This has very little to do with computers not being able to support IE7. Less that 5% of all IE6 users are on an OS other than XP.
Unfortunately IE6’s reign of 5 years cemented it’s position in the corporate market and their intranet systems. A large number of corporate networks could not upgrade to IE7, because major tools like the finance and human resources system (in our office) would not work with IE7. These are not quick and dirty locally built tools, but major applications built by vendors like Oracle, IBM and the ilk. However, more than 2 years after it’s release, IE7 is now getting support from these applications and as corporates upgrade these system, most are also upgrading their corporate browser to IE7. Unfortunately this will take a couple more years, before IE7 or IE8 rule the corporate sector.
A more disturbing trend is the netbooks and inexpensive laptops that connect to the free wifi at work, over 50% of the machines running XP use IE6, compared to less than 25% of the XP machines accessing the regular website. I do not know if this is because IE6 is the preferred browser for low spec machine running XP or something to do with the large number of Chinese and Korean language devices.
Still while IE6 is our corporate browser, I will have to support it, no questions asked. As I will while it remains popular in either in the corporate or low end netbook/laptop sectors.
Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile 6
Browsers I will stop supporting this year
I have already made a decision not to worry about getting the new website I just launched for work, perfect in Firefox 2 and Safari 2. they accounts for less than 1% of all traffic. So as long as it functions correctly that is all I am concerned about. Minor defects are acceptable. On the other hand, Firefox 2 support will be a concern if I every get round to redesigning this blog because it accounts for 5% of all traffic. Apparently web geeks are twice as likely to stick with Firefox 2 than the average Firefox user, probably something to do with the trusty web developer toolbar. Still I will review that later in the year.
I am a little more ruthless than the Yahoo browser support chart, I have already dropped Windows 2000 support. I currently only worry about XP, Vista, OSX 10.4 and 10.5 and Ubuntu as OSes and IE6, IE7, Safari 3, Chrome, Opera 9.5, Firefox 2 & 3 as browsers for computers. Though I am looking at dropping Chrome and Firefox 2 to functional only, while adding IE8 and Opera 10 to supported. I also support Mobile Safari, Opera Mobile, Internet Explorer for Windows Mobile 6 and would support the latest S60 browser if I had access to a test device.
edited 17 February 2009 for grammatical reasons