Microsoft has recently launched a site dedicated to showing the demise of its own product – the antiquated browser Internet Explorer 6 (aka IE6), at ie6countdown.com.
Its aim, in its own words, by “Moving the world off Internet Explorer 6”.
An unwanted experience…
Firstly, IE6, mostly unheard of to the casual surfer, but likely at some point to have used it, has to be one of the most despised browsers amongst web designers and developers alike.
It had bugs. Serious bugs. It wasn’t that it was just prone to viruses and hijackings, but it had bugs that had display issues – issues which increased development time and a lot of head scratching in trying to solve them.
IE6 had ways of contorting a website that would literally have many a professional ripping out their hair.
Even when coded correctly, content from your website could disappear on touch; you could scroll down and find your text displayed somewhere else; or, for a bit of fun, links would play peekaboo as you hovered over them, making them impossible to use. All this whilst most other browsers would display as intended and almost look the same.
In short, a lot of man hours in the web profession were spent wasted in reconfiguring websites to display in IE6.
What made matters worse was that Microsoft could not patch up the bugs which involved testing on many different configurations of the software that it linked itself with on other 3rd party software – a minefield to attend with.
Instead Microsoft promoted their latest version of Internet Explorer, hoping IE6 would die a quick death. Unfortunately that was never going to be the case.
Even today there are some users out there using IE6: some are from underdeveloped countries; the computer in the back of the garage; some companies even chose to use it for their intranets and cannot afford or is too problematic to upgrade.
IE6 did have its uses though…
But IE6 did have its uses: at first it did bring a lot of people closer to the web (mainly because it was shipped with Windows) as the Net was getting more and more easily more accessible; it promoted the rise of Mozilla Firefox as web professionals demanded clients use another browser; but the browser was most useful when you wanted to test if your site was working in IE6 itself.
The domain name, ie6countdown.com, is a little misleading. It sounds like Microsoft are finally going to put the software to rest somehow. But no, the only sensible solution, of course, would be to tell existing users to upgrade to their latest browser; which is the aim of the site.
In short, there is no countdown as such – the site is there to monitor the usage of IE6. Hoping that it will drop to 1% in the near future.
With that aside, Microsoft is at least publicly telling companies and users across the globe to give IE6 up by effectively saying the browser is old, no good for experiencing the modern web and saves developers hours (and hours) of time.
At first glance it is actually a strange microsite from Microsoft. It doesn’t have that air of being official and the design, as well as the code, is clean and non-fussy. The map on the home page showing the usage of the browser in individual areas of the world is something reminiscent of the 80s movie War Games.
The only way you would know it is an official site is from the emails Microsoft sent out and by checking out the registry details of the domain name which shares the same nameservers as microsoft.com’s. Other than that there appears to be no press releases, tweets, or official blogs about it. Which is understandable as the site isn’t exactly a thing to promote – showing what a mistake IE6 had become.
How you can help
Quoted from ie6countdown.com:
“We know that web developers are spending too much time supporting Internet Explorer 6. We understand, and we’re here to help. Join us in moving Internet Explorer 6 users to a modern browser. Follow these steps to help your site visitors (and you!) be free of Internet Explorer 6:”
“Tell your friends to join the cause. Share this site http://bit.ly/ie6countdown and tweet #ie6countdown. Let everyone know that you’re doing your part to get Internet Explorer 6 to 1%.”
The site promotes the use of a bit of script that tells IE6 users to upgrade their browser, and wants us to warn friends and family to upgrade too.
Below is the script, if you have a website, place this in the body of your code:
[jsselect codeforcopy=”<!–[if lt IE 8] <div style=" clear: both; height: 59px; padding:0 0 0 15px; position: relative;"> <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/default.aspx?ocid=ie6_countdown_bannercode"><img src="http://www.theie6countdown.com/images/upgrade.jpg" border="0" height="42" width="820" alt="You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today." /></a></div> <![endif]–>”]
Do your bit and get Internet Explorer 6 users to upgrade their browser today.
Let web designers make the Net a better place and concentrate on modern designs and applications for users to experience.