You know how they say cockroaches can survive a nuclear war? How they are the most reliant species on Earth, and can survive just about anything to go on annoying us for years and years?
Apparently Internet Explorer 6 is the Web browser version of a cockroach.
Launched on Aug. 21st, 2001, Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) was a decent browser for its time. However, it is now 2010, and this particular program has become like an albatross that hangs around the necks of web designers everywhere. Outdated, and unable to handle a lot of today’s current Web standards, designers have to constantly “dumb down” sites so that their pages will work with this antiquated browser of a bygone era.
A lot of times when you ask people why they’re still using it, you’ll discover that they are Web browsing from work, and their technology department has told them it’s more secure, so they continue using it. If it’s not a security issue, then there is some other lame excuse, but it boils down to corporations have just not felt the urge to move away from this particular version of the browser.
Last August, popular social news voting site Digg even did a survey of its users to find out why they continued to use it. Users who came into the site using IE6 were presented with a poll, and the results pretty much fell in line with the idea it was corporations that were keeping this thing alive.
Over the past year, a lot of sites decided to finally start cutting off support for the browser, some of them going so far as to form a coalition called IE6 No More. They’re stated reason for forming this group was, “As any web developer will tell you, working with IE 6 is one of the most difficult and frustrating things they have to deal with on a daily basis, taking up a disproportionate amount of their time. Beyond that, IE 6’s support for modern web standards is very lacking, restricting what developers can create and holding the web back.”
The problem with IE6 No More was that it was mostly social media sites such as Reddit, Disqus, Justin.TV and so on that were members; in other words, sites that corporations didn’t want you go on from work any way.
All of that is now changing as Google has announced via its Enterprise Blog that Google Apps will be cutting support for IE6 as of March 1st. While this may not sound like that big of a deal, you have to remember that Google Apps has become the darling of corporations, and even municipalities such as the city of Los Angeles, because it allows them to farm out enterprise services for a fraction of the price they pay for doing it all in-house. No support for IE6 could mean that those companies and cities that are now enjoying cost savings could lose their ability to access email and documents if they don’t finally upgrade their browsers.
Google confirmed that Google Apps would support Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0+, Mozilla Firefox 3.0+, Google Chrome 4.0+ and Safari 3, so users do have options in what they want to use, but this could be one of the biggest shots fired across the bow of the good ship IE6 in a very long time.
Will this action by the monolithic Google bring about the complete death of IE6? Doubtful. Will it knock it down to such a small percentage that no one will care any more? Quite possibly, and that will come as a relief to Web developers all across the world.