There is a fair bit of comment going on in the blogosphere, chat rooms, discussion forums and Internet in general about Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) becoming a non-supported application and being replaced. This effectively means that existing users of IE6 will need to upgrade or adopt a new Internet Browser (e.g. Firefox, Opera, Safari or Google Chrome).
Microsoft has recently gone live with Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and will start to distribute the application widely via automatic updates soon. If you are using Windows XP or Vista then, if you have ‘Automatic Updates’ activated, IE8 will be available for installation by you. With IE7, which has not been a resounding success, Microsoft did not distribute the application via Automatic Updates therefore the very low uptake of the replacement of IE6.
What is the Problem with IE6?
IE6 was not Standards Compliant. This meant that web developers and software developers (for applications using IE6) were forced to create web pages and applications compatible with standards compliant browsers as well as for IE6. Because IE6 has commanded such a large proportion of the Browser market, the developers were forced to manipulate their web pages (and applications) to work with IE6. This proved costly and error prone and was far from ideal.
With IE8 Microsoft has become more standards compliant (there is still talk of IE8 not being fully standards compliant). This means that a single web application or web page will work with all the major Browsers which will translate into better usability and reliability of web pages and applications.
How Long until IE6 is no Longer Used?
Home and small business users are likely to adopt IE8 quickly (mostly through ‘Automatic Updates as described previously). Large and some medium organizations will be slower to adopt IE8 or a competing browser mostly as there will be testing required of applications which currently use IE6 to determine their compatibility and problems with IE8 (or a competing browser). A lot depends on how long Microsoft continues to support IE6. Once support for IE6 ceases then use of the dreaded IE6 will deteriorate rapidly.
What to do about IE6?
If you are a home user then you may either;
- Wait for IE8 to be downloaded and possibly installed for you in the coming weeks or
- Install IE8 manually or
- Install a different Browser (I recommend Google Chrome for those that want a great simple Browser or Firefox for those that want a powerful and expandable Browser).
If you use a fully managed PC (most large organizations) then your organization will be testing a replacement for IE6.
Conclusion to IE6
IE6 has been around for a number of years and has enjoyed market dominance in the Browser wars. It has however added to software development and web design costs. With the introduction of IE8 the compatibility issues experienced with IE6 have been mostly eliminated meaning a more reliable Browser experience.