I have been reading a lot of material that came up in the past few months on campaigns to finish using IE6. The biggest argument put forward was that a large number of IE6 users are corporate users. Indeed, if you follow statcounter.com (http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-ww-monthly-200812-201001) regularly, you will find that IE6 usage drops to nearly half on the weekends.
I also read a counter argument by one of the Microsoft Support guys that it will cost more for organizations to upgrade to other browsers and they are trying their best to get users to upgrade to the latest windows operating system.
Well, my focus is on the organizations which get intranet applications developed to automate their operations and prefer to have IE6 as the standard browser.
Today’s intranet applications are no longer plain-jane types. The end users expect the intranet sites to have a high level of interactivity, have a quick response time, maintain their preferences, settings, etc. On top of that, sometimes, a client chooses to go with certain UI features like rounded corners which are not supported by way of CSS in IE6. The result is that a certain amount of the application development life-cycle gets dedicated to achieving those features in IE6. The world knows that IE6 crawls in comparison to the latest browsers. So, the project team also has to plan for additional time to plug IE6 specific performance issues which sometimes leads to refactoring also. The worst part is that it is not possible for IE6 to match the performance of other browsers or even of its later versions.
Some of you may already calculating the numbers and thinking that even if it is an added cost, it is not greater than the cost of installing another browser and giving it the same corporate level security settings as IE6.
I have another thought for you. What will happen when the organization ultimately starts to upgrade to Windows 7 which comes with IE8? All the intranet applications built over the years with IE6 specific features will start showing UI problems because IE8 uses different standards. What about the cost of changing the source code to make the applications compatible with the latest browser standards?
Even if an organization is not ready to upgrade to Windows 7 immediately, they should plan to upgrade to IE8 or switch to other browsers such as Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc as standard browser and provide minimum support for IE6.
Today there are many technologies like jQuery available which help build web applications with cross-browser support. If there is a feature not supported by IE6, it is degraded gracefully. For example, the rounded corners are done via CSS 3. Since IE does not support rounded corners, the browser will simply show it as pointed corners instead of breaking up.
The choice is ultimately with the organization to decide when to start switching their “web application development” strategy. However, the later it takes place, the higher will be the costs of following an IE6 only approach.