Tag Archives: IE6

Will Internet Explorer 7 finally put IE6 to rest?

Internet Explorer.Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Team reports on a new IE installer release. They’ve changed a couple of defaults, updated their tutorials… and dropped the requirement for Windows Genuine Advantage validation:

Because Microsoft takes its commitment to help protect the entire Windows ecosystem seriously, we’re updating the IE7 installation experience to make it available as broadly as possible to all Windows users. With today’s “Installation and Availability Update,” Internet Explorer 7 installation will no longer require Windows Genuine Advantage validation and will be available to all Windows XP users.

As much as I prefer alternatives like Firefox and Opera, I’ve been frustrated at the relatively slow uptake of IE7. It’s just insane that 6 years after its release, we’re still stuck designing for IE6 as the world’s most-used browser.

So who’s still running IE6?

  1. People running older versions of Windows that can’t run IE7, and who haven’t switched to something else. (This is a pretty small percentage, judging by OS stats.)
  2. People who don’t know how to upgrade to IE7, or why they should.
  3. People who actually want to stay with IE6 (whether for technical reasons or just stubbornness)
  4. People who would be happy to upgrade to IE7, except they can’t/won’t run WGA (on principle, or because it’s broken on their system, or because their OS is pirated).

I don’t know how big each group is, but Microsoft seems to think it’s worth going after #4.

It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s a jump in IE7’s marketshare relative to IE6. Maybe we’ll reach that next milestone sooner than I expected.

Web Browser Milestones

Opera Mini - The free Web browser for nearly any phoneTwo web browsers hit milestones on Net Applications’ stats for September: Safari has passed the 5% mark, hitting 5.07%, and Opera Mini has climbed onto the chart at 0.39%. That might not sound like much, but considering that nearly all web traffic is from desktop computers these days, for a mobile phone–only browser to reach that size is impressive.

A bit closer to home, this site is currently seeing 64.6% IE, 26.2% Firefox, 4.4% Safari, 1.2% Opera (which probably includes both the desktop and mini versions). Splitting IE into versions, we’ve got 35.9% IE6 and 28% IE7. We’re already at the point where IE6 users are a minority (albeit the largest one), and more than 50% of visitors are using something more modern.

I’m looking forward to the next 2 milestones: IE7 overtaking IE6, and Firefox overtaking IE6. Come to think of it, I’d really like to get rid of IE6. Its time has passed, and the web will be better off without it, just as it’s better off without Netscape 4.

Thoughts on Web Browser Upgrade Patterns

I thought I’d check my sites’ stats to see how quickly people are upgrading to Firefox 1.5. I’ve got a script I wrote a while back that totals hits by Firefox 0.x, 1.0.x, and now 1.5.x and shows the percentage of the latest version out of all Firefox hits.

I tried it on this month’s logs from the Alternative Browser Alliance first, since it’s a much smaller log file, and saw that Firefox 1.5 accounts for anywhere from 43% to 69% of Firefox users visiting the site on a given day. Then I checked it against Hyperborea, which gets a more mainstream audience, and found that only 15-24% of its Firefox hits were from users who have upgraded.

Sticking with the more mainstream site, I looked at some other statistics. While Firefox as a whole is doing quite well at 18.9% (plus another 1.4% for Netscape and 1.2% for Mozilla), there’s a shockingly large number of people still using Internet Explorer 5 for Windows. MSIE 5.0 and MSIE 5.5 are eachpulling 1%. That doesn’t sound like much, but there are more people on outdated versions of IE than any version of Netscape, and each IE version is pulling in more than all versions of Opera combined (0.9%). This, frankly, sucks. MSIE 6 is a free upgrade that will run on any system that can run ether 5.0 or 5.5, and is a significant improvement over either. IE6, Firefox, or Opera will all run on even obsolete versions of Windows—and there are more ofthose than you might think as well! (I’m seeing 4.8% of traffic coming from Windows 98—more even than Windows Me.)

Internet Explorer 6.0 came out in October 2001, so people have had four years to upgrade, and 2.7% of IE users still haven’t upgraded. Maybe they can’t, because IT has locked their systems down. Maybe they don’t know there’s both a newer version and a wealth of alternatives. Maybe they don’t think it’s worth changing. Even IE5/Mac has its adherents after Microsoft abandoned it in favor of Apple’s own Safari. And while some might disagree, we’re stuck developing for it.

Firefox should have a faster upgrade curve than IE, if Dave Shea’s pre-installed/downloadable split holds true and people who make the effort to add a browser still make more effort to upgrade it. (It seems to be holding for Opera, at least, since the majority of Opera users are already on 8.5 after only a few months.) But I still see hits from Firefox 0.8 and 0.9, and I’ve seen a lot of people with that red update icon in the toolbar.  I have to wonder if the mainstream acceptance of Firefox may have altered the patterns that held during the IE6 era.

I’m hoping uptake of Firefox 1.5 will go faster. Aside from getting people onto auto-updates, it brings new design possibilities with SVG, canvas, etc. But I know there are a lot of fire-and-forget admins out there, and a lot of everyday users who just installed it once and don’t see why they need to upgrade. It’ll be interesting to see how SFX’s new dual mission will go.

Originally posted on my Spread Firefox blog.

Simple drop shadows? IE/Win and NS4 don’t think so!

I found myself thinking of A List Apart’s CSS Drop Shadows, and decided I’d modify my writing portfolio to use actual drop shadows instead of the clunky border mess I’ve had for the last few years.

The first thing I realized was that the technique isn’t suitable for large, arbitrarily-sized regions, because you need to have a background image as large as or larger than the area being given the shadow. When you’re trying to apply it to most of the page, you need a multi-thousand pixel image. That’s not only hard to work with, but even if it compresses well it’s still going to take up a lot of unnecessary room in the browser’s memory.

I wanted to keep the markup simple, so I shopped around a bit more and came across a CSS drop shadow example at W3C which was very simple: all you do is put a shadow-colored div behind the area and mess with margins.

Well, that worked great in Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror and Safari. Then, the dreaded Internet Explorer test.
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