As a web designer I run into issues every single day with Internet Explorer. There are currently three versions of IE ranging from 6, 7, and 8. When designing a website, most of us will use browsers such as Firefox and Safari but when it comes time to test the website to make sure it looks consistent across all browsers, you then add all of the versions of IE to the mix as well as Opera and Google Chrome. (I personally refuse to use Google Chrome because I can not stand the browser. Sure, it’s fast and all, but there is just something about Firefox that keeps me going back time and time again.)
So when you take any given website to IE, no matter what version you go to, I can basically guarantee that you will see something different than you did in Firefox. But the thing that continues to make me slam my mouse is that you not only see something different in IE 6 but 7 and 8 will provide a different set of issues. Microsoft knows about these issues, yet continues to ship IE8 on all of their machines. The W3c (World Wide Web Consortium) also acknowledges the problems but does not do anything to encourage the use of another browser.
When Microsoft announced a few months ago that it was going to ship computers over seas without an operating system all together some designers here in the states got happy. Was this the end of IE and the start of an easier testing phase in web design? No, of course not. Microsoft pulled back that statement and said that it would now ship all machines with IE7 and make the update an option for those that wanted to use it. Even Microsoft can not make up their mind as to what they want to do. And with 54% of the Internet on some version of IE the guys designing those sites have to pay some attention to that.
I found this chart you see above today and it made me laugh as I can relate to pretty much every one of these. It broke down the “real” reasons why people are still using IE. One of them states “I can’t use a computer,” while another one says “What is a browser?” These are the people that do not even need to be using a computer. If you do not know what a browser is, and if you have to call technical support when you can not figure out how to turn the machine on, then you need to step away from the computer and take a course in modern living.
But as this chart was meant to be funny, one of them actually made some sense. The smallest one, ironically, says, “Over 65.” This is ironic because that should actually be towards the top of reasons why folks still use IE. They are what I like to call the “baby boomers” and are part of the reason for a lot of stalled progression in our society. They are the reason that we still have record labels. They are the reason we still get the Sunday paper (or any paper for that matter) and they are the reason why we still produce dollar bills rather than credit cards. But, over the next twenty years, as they move their way to the grave and we digital natives take their place, you will see a lot of these things become obsolete.
But will IE ever really become obsolete? As Microsoft continues to make money and designers continue to test in it, I do not see it going anywhere. We have actually been in talks at my firm discussing whether or not to stop testing in it, trying to force our users to either upgrade of change browsers, but it continues to be put on the back burner until the numbers show us something different. So take a look at whatever browser you are reading this on. If you are using Firefox, then high five. If you are using Internet Explorer, then open a new tab, and go here to begin a life of educated browsing. You will make my life easier and you will enjoy your time spent online so much more. As Nike always said, just do it.