Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

The slow death of IE 6 support; YouTube and browser placement

Category: Browsers

Many sites have been slowly crying off of IE 6 support, and big boys like Twitter, Facebook, Digg and YouTube are joining the action. What is interesting about the YouTube story is the placement of the upgrade buttons.

Twitter took the tact of “if the user is using browser X, I will just prompt them to get the latest version”. If you are in IE 6, prompt for IE 8.

YouTube sandwiches IE 8 in between Chrome (nice prominent position right next to the message ;) and Firefox. I wonder if anyone did click-through testing on the placement? The same chaps who change the color of ad colors? :)

Posted by Dion Almaer at 10:42 am

4.8 rating from 108 votes


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My day just improved reading this. Seems like there has been lots of talk recently about how to deal with this IE6 issue. Having a large/well known sites like You Tube push for new browsers can only help. Still unfortunate for those who can’t upgrade because if system restrictions.

Comment by Jonny — July 14, 2009

This only matters to people who use the social side of Youtube (not a very large percentage of their visitors I’d imagine) – Flash-based video isn’t about to break in IE6 any time soon.

Comment by Darkimmortal — July 14, 2009

I’m sure all the companies with system restrictions will be a fan of their employees not being able to use YouTube and Facebook.

Might help to get their browsers upgraded as well, if the employees are complaining to IT that they can’t access their favorite websites.

Comment by ajaxery — July 14, 2009

My thoughts on this debate is that I would find it really doubtful that a site like YouTube would do a dual site, one for older browsers one for newer browsers. Cost of development and support would be a nightmare.

My thoughts on dropping IE6 support altogether has been that this is the preferable solution but I thought it doubtful that the big sites would do it anytime soon. I’m glad to see I was wrong. I suppose it depends on their user stats though. If IE6 is a small enough percentage for their comfort zone then they are relatively safe in dropping support.

I wonder what percentage of visitors that use IE6 they have.

Digg and now YouTube. Hopefully this trend increases momentum much faster than I had thought.

Now to convince business admin people to allow updating IE6 or at least using an alternative browser.

Comment by travisalmand — July 14, 2009

I like this better then only having the upgrade to IE8 link. Those who can’t upgrade because they are on win2k can still go for Firefox or Chrome. I don’t think IE8 is worth listing under “one of these modern browsers”, Safari would go better there.

Comment by Jadet — July 14, 2009

Discontinuing support for IE6 (in the case of youtube) is a good opportunity for Google to push Chrome on users though (not that it’s a bad thing). Browsers need occasions like this to take significant jumps in the browser wars stats.

It may not be that Google is just pissed off supporting IE6, it may just be that it’s about time and provides the above opportunity.

Comment by RoryH — July 14, 2009

Because all Windows users associate Safari with running on Windows.

Comment by Darkimmortal — July 14, 2009

How long until Google itself does the same thing. Will they say, IE6? Go back to Bing!

Comment by amboy00 — July 14, 2009

This makes me happy too.

Just a note about the button placement. For me it shows up as Firefox, Chrome and then IE8. It must rotate in some way, though reloading the page doesn’t seem to make them switch around.

Comment by hammond13 — July 14, 2009

The logos are randomized per user. Change usernames or logout and you should see them switch positions.

Comment by zacman85 — July 14, 2009

Wooohooo!!!! I really hope more major sites start doing this. They’re the ones who have the power to change behavior of users.

Comment by HenrikJoreteg — July 14, 2009

“Because all Windows users associate Safari with running on Windows.” There are many Windows iTunes users. They are reminded on every update to iTunes that Safari works on Windows.

Comment by Nosredna — July 14, 2009

When I went Firefox was first, IE8 second, and Chrome last – are they moving them around randomly, or just changed it at some point?

Comment by CaptainN — July 14, 2009

@amboy00 – The Google homepage currently gives IE6 users an “Install Google Chrome” link in the upper right of the page.

Comment by WillPeavy — July 14, 2009

Well it only makes sense for google to want people to get use to Chrome. Not simply because they develop it but also because it will be everyone’s OS soon

Comment by eears100 — July 14, 2009

There definitely seems to be a recent shift away from IE6 for consumer-facing sites. Sadly it’s not the same for corporate sites, particularly those in finance where IE6 remains stubbornly entrenched on bankers’ desktops.

One plus side to this for our product is that if it works well in IE6 it will scream in a decent browser! So in a strange way our continued support for IE6 makes our product better, though with an engineering cost…

Full analysis in my recent blog post: http://blog.caplin.com/2009/07/14/supporting-ie6-a-poison-chalice-or-the-holy-grail

Comment by patrickmyles — July 14, 2009

@Dion, the order seems to be simply alphabetic (C, IE, F) … I can’t wait the day all these sites will simply stop to support IE6, rather than support it with a suggested update. I still do not get corporates/companies problems, they have not excuse except they’ll be too late when the rest of the net world will have moved to the next step. Next campaign? Fire your System Administrator if you are still using IE6! To surf the web you are behind every other for no reason. Security, business, and opportunities speaking, he is just a looser!
To hard?

Comment by WebReflection — July 14, 2009

I think that’s a great approach, but I wish they weren’t randomizing the order of the buttons. I’d like to see Chrome always placed first, to maximize the likelihood that people with no browser preference who don’t have admin rights on their machines will upgrade their browser successfully.

Comment by garann — July 14, 2009

Nice, finally, less support for IE6
At http://en.leadingcourses.com a message is shown also when people enter the site with IE <= 6

Comment by xfinx — July 14, 2009

we all knew that the demise of ie6 was inevitable. Maybe we as developers can strive to build faster, richer and overall… better sites and web applications. So, go learn and get ready for the new web based OS’ .

Comment by ajaxmehof — July 14, 2009

I think it’s notable that they even included a link to IE8 and Firefox on there at all — we all know that Microsoft did this, there’d be a link there to IE8 and nothing else.

Comment by mdmadph — July 14, 2009

Well good. But a large proportion of internet users don’t know what a “browser” is. They don’t know that they are running a browser. They don’t know about standards or versions. I’ve had people say “What’s a browser? I just click on the E to get the internet”

Comment by ExtAnimal — July 14, 2009

The order of the the browsers rotates for each session.

Comment by sroussey — July 14, 2009

“Can I please upgrade from IE6 to IE8? I know I won’t be able to run our in-house apps anymore, but I’ll be able to post youtube comments. Someone just posted something about a Crowded House video that really pissed me off.”

Comment by Nosredna — July 14, 2009

As discussed in the previous thread, there’s nothing stopping businesses running IE6 locked down for intranet use along with Firefox/Chrome… nothing except lazy, incompetent sys admins.

Bravo to Youtube and the others. Hopefully support will be dropped altogether or blocked entirely, pissing off enough corporate top brass to give these iron-age sys admins a kick up the arse.

Comment by randomrandom — July 14, 2009

@randomrandom, I agree. And I think that Microsoft ought to make IE8 coexist happily with IE6.

Comment by Nosredna — July 14, 2009

@Nosredna, that excuse cannot exist anymore. First of all if their apps is IE6 based and works only with IE6 it is truly old and the company poor enough to do not maintain it. Something kinda “have to do”, software speaking, or your app is simply death.
Secondly, if these administrators keep saying they cannot update because the app will not work they are still ignorant!
It is not youtube, it is the Web as is, if your local app works only with IE6 you can ALWAYS install Firefox or Chrome and use latter browsers to surf the Web and IE6 only for that death application.
How long will this story go on? Do we all want to be stuck forever because of these people whose internet is not in their interests/business? … Come on, be realistic, it is the ABC of whatever language/OS/application, it requires to be maintained and updated. This is called technology and it has to move on, excuses about IE6 are hopefully over!

Comment by WebReflection — July 14, 2009

Sorry. I know companies that have those IE6 apps. As long as they can keep their employees on IE6, there’s no business reason to spend to update them, especially in a hard recession.

Happily, I know of one company that is moving to standards-based browsers with a Java backend. Of course, it’s going the way many software projects go–slowly. Extremely slowly.

Comment by Nosredna — July 14, 2009

“Well good. But a large proportion of internet users don’t know what a “browser” is. They don’t know that they are running a browser.”

They don’t know because they don’t have to know. When their You Tubes stop working, they will figure it out in a damn hurry :)

Comment by greim — July 14, 2009

I don’t think corporate IT is the whole picture for IE6. My site’s browser stats show an weekday average of ~19% IE6 usage, which only drops to about ~17% on weekends. If IE6 traffic is mainly corporate, why only a difference of 2%, unless there really are a lot of home users of IE6 to whom it’s never occurred to upgrade?

Comment by greim — July 14, 2009

LOL Nosredna. Someone is wrong on the Internet!

What drives me absolutely batty is that the IE 6 problem is much worse than it needed to be, exacerbated by terrible decisions in the last two IE releases:

1. IE 7 should have come bundled with the IE 6 engine, along with the meta switch that IE 8 has, and required “really” “real” standards-mode to be opt-in.

2. IE 8 should have come bundled with the IE 6 engine (and why it didn’t is beyond me), with the same opt-in requirement.

The web development and standards communities missed a very important opportunity here too, which is worth mentioning: by insisting that Microsoft place a priority on default rendering mode rather than on minimizing work necessary to add future-IE support, these communities are complicit in extending the life of IE 6 substantially by greatly increasing the perceived cost of upgrading IE 6-dependent web applications.

At this point, Microsoft should begin providing an IE 6 plugin, either for IE 8 or for all browsers, to allow businesses to begin upgrading while retaining full backward compatibility for their proprietary web applications. Microsoft gets *no benefit* from keeping anyone on IE 6, and I think providing a way out would garner a lot of good will compared to the current situation.

Of course the bean counters would probably never allow it.

Comment by eyelidlessness — July 15, 2009

@Darkimmortal: I think there’s much more than keeping employees away from youtube. First of all, internet is knowledge and videos can be knowledge too. If you fear your employees to spend too much time watching funny videos on youtube, you can simply install a proxy server and track their visits. Second, websites like youtube or facebook are developing new and richer UIs, that highly helps user experience. It’s just like a technology boost to serve military purpose, that later will spread into everyone’s life (just like the internet itself). Internet developers make treasure of such UIs techniques and will use them to build serious, pro, web applications. IE6 is simply a stone on the back of any web applications, since it doesn’t conform to standards. If UIs techniques, ignoring IE, become industry standards, then I believe most companies will ask their ICT dept. to upgrade to newer browser.

Comment by prosphero — July 15, 2009

I fail to see the big impact of this and wrote up some reasons:


The main one is that IE6 is used in companies that also block YouTube so the message doesn’t reach where it should go. Also, it would be more of an impact if the youtube embed code flagged IE6 as bad as 70% of the YouTube traffic is from embedded sites.

Comment by ChrisHeilmann — July 15, 2009

I tested the sites with IE 6 and saw some warning messages in some, but not in others. I could though, dismiss these warning and use the website as normal. Twitter, YouTube and Facebook worked fine with all its features.

Comment by Jeria — July 15, 2009

@patrickmyles – I work on financial services apps too, and I’m pushing to make the next generation (will be released in 2011) serve basic HTML only (no Ajax/JavaScript, or any fancy CSS) to IE6. The apps I’m working on are used by 7 of the 10 biggest banks in the U.S. too, so I think there is (finally) a shift happening in that industry.

“particularly those in finance where IE6 remains stubbornly entrenched on bankers’ desktops.”

Comment by WillPeavy — July 15, 2009

@WillPeavy, that’s great, so you see movement?

Of course, you’re still saying that you’ll have to serve _something_ to IE6 in 2011, which means taking it into account. Which you must think there will be some banks still using IE6 internally two or more years from now.

Comment by Nosredna — July 15, 2009

Okay, here’s a contrarian view, just to ruffle some feathers and get people thinking outside the box.

It could be that IE6, over the past near-decade, has actually introduced some stability to the web, whereas otherwise “web 2.0” would have come along and the state of web technology would have taken a chaotic path. Maybe better than what we have today, but then again maybe not.

Comment by greim — July 15, 2009

Good point, Here a snippet code on How to remove IE6:

Comment by Jerusalem — July 15, 2009

@Nosredna – I always try to make a basic HTML version available. There’s several reasons why, but the main reason is accessibility (i.e. I need to guarantee it works with screen readers). So I’m talking about serving the text-only, simplified, screen-reader version to IE6 (and to any other dinosaurs as well – if for some reason someone were still using IE4 or NS6, it would be *functional* with those user agents).

Comment by WillPeavy — July 15, 2009

@WillPeavy – I agree, we are starting to see some movement in the financial institutions, mostly I think driven by user demand. I think that you’ll be safe only presenting a basic HTML page to IE6 users in 2011. Unfortunately our products have a monthly release cycle, so we can’t wait for 2011! Also, they just wouldn’t work in a browser without JavaScript, CSS, etc. So the best we can do is encourage users to upgrade, or at least scream for an upgrade…

Comment by patrickmyles — July 15, 2009

Microsoft office 2007, a bastion in enterprise, even in financial services, requires Windows XP SP2, which was released in 2004. Why is it that nobody makes a bone about this, but when a web app author says that the latest version requires a browser that’s newer than 2001, this is suddenly a big problem? The problem is mindset. If people had the mindset that new web apps required newer browsers, there wouldn’t be an issue. It would just be the cost of doing business.

Comment by Joeri — July 16, 2009

@Joeri, Hmm. I use the latest browser, but I still use Office 2003 (with 2007 file format updates). There’s just no knowing which pieces people will upgrade.

Comment by Nosredna — July 16, 2009

It would be logically right to drop IE6 already, I certainly agree on maintaining accessibility and clean code which insures that information is delivered properly but at the mean time with rocket fast changing technologies it’s time to form NEW web STANDARDS.
So well done Tweeter you’ve got the balls to play ;) We’ll join you shortly …

Comment by Hiro — July 16, 2009

There is no reason people cannot run Firefox and IE6 side to side.. If you applications still require you to use IE6, than only use IE6 for that.. And use a normal decent browser for the rest of your internet experience.. Its the Job of system administrators to install a decent browser next to IE..

All that crap about I can’t update is just bullshit. Than don’t update just install a new better browser side to side with it. Microsoft should come up with a way that users can run IE6 side to side with IE8.. So they can atleast have there crappy shitty browser for the apps.. and still update and use a normal browser for the rest of the web.

Comment by V1 — July 17, 2009

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