One of the biggest issues web developers face is having to get their sites to run across all browsers. Each browser comes with its own issues and bugs and none more so than Internet Explorer (IE) 6. Getting a current website to run on the browser has become such a chore due to its age many major sites no longer support it.

IE6 was released back in 2001 and came bundled with Windows XP. This served to make IE6 the most popular browser on the web, with a peak usage during 2002 and 2003. Even after the release of Internet Explorer (IE) 7 IE6 continued to thrive in business use. When it was released IE6 included a number of improvements over its predecessor Internet Explorer (IE) 5.5. It improved support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), added support for additional properties and fixed a number of bugs. The browser served its purpose and, despite some security issues, did the job for the majority of users.

As the web evolved IE6 struggled to support current web standards. Rather than updating their browsers, a large number of users stuck with IE6. This proved a major problem for web developers who wanted to embrace new web technologies and push the boundaries of what was possible as they were having to ensure their code would run in IE6.

A number of campaigns were established to encourage users to upgrade or switch browsers. These campaigns came from many different sources, some even came from Microsoft themselves. However the real turning point came when large sites, such as YouTube, began to phase out support for the browser. This provided a push users needed to upgrade from IE6, and prompted other websites to follow suit.

Finally in March 2011, Microsoft urged web users to stop using its software and upgrade to a newer version of Internet Explorer.  They launched a website to monitor the usage of the browser. The figures for July 2011 can be seen below:

Although there is still a percantage of users accessing the web via IE6, Microsoft’s own abandonment of the browser is finally enough for web developers to be able to move on. The worry is that a similar situation may arise in a few years, with users reluctant to upgrade from Internet Explorer 8.

So remember: Save a web developer, regularly upgrade your browser.