Internet Explorer 6 is the sixth version of the Internet Explorer browser series which was developed by Microsoft for their Windows operating system and released back on August 27, 2001. This version of IE is totally obsolete and ships with legacy versions of windows. As we all know, even Microsoft has stopped support for Windows XP and all their other older operating systems. All the newer versions of Windows like Vista and Windows 7 ship with IE7 or above. IE6 is widely derided due to its security issues, lack of compatibility and support, to name a few issues.
We – as developers and web designers, small and large companies – need to take a bold stance and stop supporting IE6. Here are some reasons why it needs to be killed.
1. Many Security Holes: IE6 contains a computer security vulnerability, known as XSS (cross-site scripting), that enables malicious attackers to inject client-side script into web pages that can be viewed by other users. This could enable an attacker to gain elevated access privileges to session cookies, private page content, and a variety of other information maintained by the browser for the user.
To add to this, other security holes like activeX vulnerabilities make browsing on IE6 very dangerous as this browser version provides no protection against these exploits.
2. Dropping Market Share: In 2008, the market share of IE6 estimated as 39%. Due to the popularity of IE 7+ and other browsers, its market value is continuing to decline. In January 2010, all the web-based application and services provided by Google will no longer support IE6. On March 13, 2010. YouTube announced that it will no longer support IE6 due to obvious reasons.
3. Lack of Compatibility: Internet Explorer 6 has a major compatibility problem with modern web standards. IE6 does not fully nor properly support CSS version 2 (let alone the new version 3) and this makes it very difficult for web developers to ensure compatibility with the browser without degrading the experience for users of more modern browsers. Developers often have to resort to strategies such as CSS hacks, conditional comments, or other forms of browser sniffing to make their websites work in IE6. Others, simply drop support for it altogether:
4. No PNG Transparency Support: This is another big problem in Internet Explorer 6 . No doubt, PNG files are very large in size compared to JPG and GIF files but they are generally clearer than JPG and GIF files. All other browsers like Opera, Safari, Firefox, IE7 and IE8 support PNG files. This is how a PNG file looks like in IE6.
5. Issues with Web Standards: Internet Explorer 6 doesn’t support key web standards. Not CSS nor HTML. This means that web-designers are either spending lots of time fixing IE6 bugs in their websites or simply have a page that doesn’t display correctly when viewed with IE6. Moreover, users’ favorite web tools don’t work in IE6. If this is not enough, IE6 does not support Unicode characters.
These are just few issues which make IE6 so loathsome and infamous among developers. Not only has it got limited or no support for modern standards, it is prone to crashing, memory leakage and has far too many security vulnerabilities. It often takes developers far too much time trying to make sure their site is compatible with IE6 (time they could have spent improving their site or adding features for the majority of users who don’t use IE6).
I think it’s high time we all join hands with Google and others and say three words to Internet Explorer 6:
“REST IN PEACE.”
What is your experience with IE6? Have you spent lots of time debugging andhacking to make sure your site is IE6 compatible? Or are you on the other side of the coin – do you believe that we should continue ensuring that our sites work on the ancient browser? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.