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IE6: the end is (hopefully) near

By Aaron Gustafson | July 26th, 2006 | Filed in Browsers, Microsoft, Web Standards (general)

Hot on the heels of the IE7 Βeta 3 release, Microsoft has announced plans to roll out the final standalone version of IE7 via its Automatic Update service.

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Given the greatly improved support for standards in addition to the security fixes in IE7, I think going the Automatic Update route was a wise decision for Microsoft and will certain hasten the adoption of the new browser, but it doesn’t mean we’re rid of IE6 yet.

While, on the consumer side, a large percentage of users will likely make the switch, possibly without even realizing it, corporate adoption could be slow. As it has done with several service packs, Microsoft will be allowing systems administrators to manage when IE7 is deployed (if at all) within their enterprise. Does this mean the transition will be quick and smooth or will we still be tied to supporting IE6 like we were for so many years with Netscape 4? I’m not sure, but given the major security improvements in IE7, coupled with Microsoft’s labelling of it as a “high priority” update, I’d like to think most corporations will be relatively quick to roll it out, but there’s just no telling.

In all, I think this is positive news for web standards developers, and I get the feeling we’ll soon see Microsoft more heavily promoting the browser in an attempt to win back some folks from Firefox and clear its name on the security front. Who knows, we might even be able to bid IE6 a (not so) fond farewell this Fall.

/me crosses fingers

Your Replies

#1 On July 26th, 2006 2:11 pm veridicus replied:

What IE7 is missing is any new and innovative features. I doubt they’ll win back many Firefox converts.

#2 On July 26th, 2006 2:24 pm Dale Cruse replied:

I’d love to kiss IE6 goodbye ASAP, but I just don’t see it disappearing overnight.

#3 On July 26th, 2006 2:39 pm Trails replied:

I don’t think IE 7 is meant to “repatriate” firefox users, so much as stop the hemorrhage. It’s a “tourniquet” release.

IE7 will probably be released as a “recommended patch/upgrade”. The only thing that will maintina significant IE6 usage is win2k users.

#4 On July 26th, 2006 2:40 pm Small Paul replied:

Yup, fingers crossed. Great news about getting it in as a critical update, but unfortunately I think we’ve got at least the following users likely to lag behind:

1. Corporate users still on Windows 2000. From what I understand (which is, admittedly, very little), 2000 was where Windows got respectably solid, meaning lots of companies just stuck with it.

2. Consumer users not on XP.

3. Consumer users on XP who don’t use Windows Update.

Hopefully once IE 7′s out, it might encourage people in the above groups to move to XP, or update their software. But I reckon we’ve got a bit of a struggle left yet. Best keep a close eye on our access logs over the next year.

#5 On July 26th, 2006 2:41 pm WaSP Member ccasciano replied:

What’s the install base of non-XP machines (like win2k) looking like out there these days? Those boxes can’t move to IE7 (unless I missed the change of plans here).

I know I’m running still running a win2k box here, and when it comes down to it I really see no reason to move to XP for any of the things I use it for.. the only reason I have another box running XP is because it was a new-er purchase not because I saw a compelling reason to upgrade OS. I’d imagine that’s the case out there in many small offices out there as well.

News of the update schedule is good, but I don’t think it translates into an immediate, or even mid term ability to relieve developers of the need to address issues that come with IE5.0, 5.5 or 6.0 for windows.

#6 On July 26th, 2006 3:03 pm Trails replied:

Windows 2000 makes up 8% of the OS market share according to

#7 On July 26th, 2006 3:22 pm Gérard Talbot replied:

“greatly improved support for standards (…) in IE7″

I want to speak up to say that I disagree/differ opinion on this (“greatly improved support for standards”). In IE 7, Microsoft admittedly fixed many CSS bugs, that’s true, but there are still *_a lot_* of CSS implementation bugs (known ones, with testcases) to fix, a lot of CSS 2.1 properties not supported or incorrectly implemented and there are many compliance and support issues with HTML 4.01. IE 7 in its upcoming release is still *_very far_* from Firefox 1.5 and Opera 9 when it comes to DOM 2 interfaces (just think of DOM 2 Events), javascript support and correctness of its HTML 4.01 and CSS 2.1 support.

Microsoft may have fixed a lot of bugs in IE 7 but IE 6 had a *_very large_* number of bugs to begin with and there are still many left to fix.

IMO, it is exaggerated to speak of “greatly improved” support for standards in IE 7.

And, IMO, the most important problem on the web is not buggy/non-compliant web browsers nor web users using old or non-compliant browsers but rather the so-called webmasters still using [nested] tables for layout, spacer.gif techniques, <br> instead of CSS margin, &nbsp; instead of CSS padding, “javascript:” pseudo-links, non-compliant or deprecated attributes like marginheight, bgcolor, etc…

My conclusion:
1- Microsoft did a slightly above average job (considering the long time it had and the huge amount of support from people to report bugs) and
2- the webmasters overall won’t upgrade their webpages and coding techniques

The whole discussion about IE 7 adoption versus I6 slow disappearance on the web is a relative issue.

Gérard Talbot

#8 On July 26th, 2006 3:50 pm Nick Webb replied:

In my opinion, the fact that IE 7 is a security fix first and a browser upgrade second may make the corporate uptake quicker than with previous releases of IE. At least that’s what I’m hoping!


#9 On July 26th, 2006 6:56 pm Damien replied:

I think everything thats going on with IE7 is positive though given the number of people still using old browsers like IE5 and Netscape 4, I’m ot holding my breath on when we’ll be free of the scurge – could take another 5 years.

#10 On July 26th, 2006 11:17 pm Joshua Delsman replied:

Ding dong the witch is dead!

#11 On July 27th, 2006 2:53 am Jake Archibald replied:

I really like IE7. It doesn’t replace Firefox for personal use, but in terms of corporate use (where a lot of our internal sites are IE only) it’s a dream to use compared to IE6.

The quicker this replaces IE6, the better. Hopefully, further updates will be rolled out via Automatic Update to fix further bugs, rather than a long wait for IE8.


#12 On July 27th, 2006 6:42 am Confessions of an Undercover Geek » IE 7 Will Come Via Auto Update replied:

[...] I just read on the Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) blog that it will be loaded on to people’s computers via Windows Auto Update. This is GREAT news. IE 6 will be soon gone. [...]

#13 On July 27th, 2006 10:50 am Diane replied:

I work for a fairly large corporation and we have a number of in-house applications. The corporate roll-out of WinXP has ONLY JUST happened in the last 6 months ! Updates are tightly controlled and pushed out thru some management process, most users have absolutely no control over what they get and don’t get. Most of us now have XP – SP 1. Corporate IT has not thoroughly tested SP2 so it’s not rolled out. Everything has to be verfied to work with our in-house applications.

Sooo.. I don’t see myself being able to use, let alone test, IE7 any time soon, even though I build web sites for our contract clients. I’m sure that my company is not alone in the corporate world for slowly update our OS.

I RARELY use IE at home, or at the office for that matter (I’m probably the only 1 in my office using FF) and IE 7 will never induce me to switch away from FF. I use IE only when I’m forced to and for testing my sites.. and I’m afraid it’s going to be that way for a long, long, time to come.

#14 On July 28th, 2006 7:42 am J.C. replied:

Well… wanna hear my opinion?

Here in Germany “crossing fingers” won’t help. We’re undoubtly sick of Microsofts ingenious inventions.

Fix of the rendering engine? Realization of W3C techniques in that new (already 7th) generation? Breaking through by something noone else has ever seen before?

- No.

MS has got the same old strategy in mind – show the users something graphically the might like, and promote it. Later fix it (as often as possible) as long as no better version is available.

But though 20% of us Germans are using Firefox (there’s a conspiracy of some pro MS companys officially disclaiming the number) I don’t think this browserwar will end with a Microsoft 4% usage rate. :-(

We will see…

#15 On July 28th, 2006 8:33 am » Blog Archive » How fast will IE7 be adopted? replied:

[...] From The Web Standards Project – IE6: the end is (hopefully) near: Given the greatly improved support for standards in addition to the security fixes in IE7, I think going the Automatic Update route was a wise decision for Microsoft and will certain hasten the adoption of the new browser, but it doesn’t mean we’re rid of IE6 yet. [...]

#16 On July 28th, 2006 11:48 am Rick replied:

As a newbie web page maker (developer/designer???), I’d like to see IE6, IE5.5, and IE5 sink slowly into a swamp and drag the Evil Empire down with them. But, alas, that is unlikely. The best hope is that everyone upgrades to Windows XP and gets the IE7 update.

To repeat: The best hope is that everyone upgrades to Windows XP and gets the IE7 update.

Those of us who still struggle with Windows 9x, Windows NT or Windows 2000 and can’t afford to upgrade will be out of luck. We won’t get IE7 and never will. Microsoft is leaving us on the garbage heap of their out-of-date and out-of-support sofware. Oh, well. Life happens.

So, My opinon is that IE6 will gradually disappear over the next three years. It will become the new NN4 of the web design world. Web designers will be cussing out Microsoft for at least that much longer.

#17 On July 28th, 2006 6:44 pm Ben replied:

IE7 is an update on the cheap to stop further migration to Firefox. I’m running Windows 2000 and SUSE on a dual boot system and that means no upgrade for me. But even if I had the chance why would I want to?

Tab Browsing: er…already done well in Opera and FF
Search Box: er…already done well in Opera and FF
Print Preview: er…starting to see a pattern here
RSS: yup
Security: Haha

That’s 0% innovation from Microsoft. I’m sure nobody on this site will disagree when I say that IE7 is simply a patch required due to years of neglect. The only good news is that the competition should have a positive impact on the development of all the browsers.

#18 On July 31st, 2006 7:46 pm Sean Nicholls - Blog Archive » Mozilla makes use of IE7 replied:

[...] It would appear that Mozilla did not purchase the domain, though I am double checking that, so apologies for the innacuracy. I cite the innacuracy to boagworld where I originally got the story: Also on the IE front, the Web Standards Project seems to be saying a somewhat premature goodbye to IE 6 while Firefox have pulled off a bit of a PR coup by registering [...]

#19 On August 2nd, 2006 9:14 am stephen replied:

very amusing about, wonder how long it will stay that way? very good news about the auto update as well.

#20 On August 5th, 2006 6:52 pm Egor Kloos replied:

This doesn’t mean the demise of IE6 but the demise of IE5. If my customers want that browser supported then they’re going to have to pay extra for it.
Some say that those that dabble in web standards should support all current browsers, well at least anything above 0.5%. This is of course complete gobble-a-duke.
A client pays me for a site of certain quality and compliance. I have a base rate for a basic level of work. Want more? Than that will cost an X amount extra, thank you very much.

IE6 will be marginalised quicker than many think and that will mean that web standards can be pushed to a higher level. Automatic updates are good. If MS keeps going at this rate than Mozilla will be playing catch up with IE and not only with Opera and Safari.

The user wins.

#21 On August 5th, 2006 9:52 pm Matthew replied:

It sure would save a lot of hard work and research if we only had to write HTML/CSS for one standard.

I hover around XHTML 1.0 Transitional support which works well enough in IE, FF and Safari. If I have to lean in any direction its going to be with the company that has 85% market share. On some of my sites I see closer to 95%.

I use tables for layout if I have to because I can do it quicker than trying to float divs within divs within divs. I have seen some pure CSS “tricks” to emulate layout and its not very maintainable.

I think the W3C would like everyone to create web pages that look like a paragraphs of text with the occasional bit of bold text to add flare.

Yawn. The whole evil empire argument is getting a bit, don’t you think.

Yep standards are good. Yep, Mic has written some crap software in their day, but would you really want mozilla to own 85% market share? Or how about thousands of companies each with their own browser.

Sorry. I hope IE7 and IE8 develop into the perfect web browser and become the “only” web browser. That means less work for me.

Cheers (Don’t take me too seriously)

#22 On August 8th, 2006 10:15 am keepcop replied:

Although I’m not a professional web designer, I always tend to use only valid XHTML Strict and CSS in my sites. Despite this IE browsers show very rarely the expected result especially when it’s about positioning divs.
I hardly have troubles with Gecko browsers – they are quite accurate and follow the standards very well. Divs within divs within divs work fine with Firefox and make designing easier and more flexible.

Therefore I really want Mozilla to own 99% market share – though unfortunately it’s very unlikely. In my opinion the biggest obstacles of spreading Firefox are that 1. most of the users don’t even know about it and 2. a good deal of users is unable to install softwares on their computer because of security restrictions (I mean schools, offices, net cafes, etc). Personally I have a small rar archive on my ftp site containing Firefox executables and alway simply download and unrar it into a temp directory if I want to use it somewhere. I guess it would be a good idea to release such a pack officially so that more users could use the program.

#23 On August 11th, 2006 12:29 pm Paul R. Redmond replied:

Has there been any word on a version of IE that will let you view a site in IE 6 & IE 7? I know MS was working on the issue or at least discussing it. I would really like to avoid separate installs, and have an official version that allows this for developers.

#24 On August 26th, 2006 4:01 am Phil replied:

I have to say I’m rather doubtful about the corporate adoption of IE7. Other companies may not be so bad, but my company’s intranet is seemingly dependent on IE6′s ‘bodges’ (such as its use of padding) to get pages to view properly. In fact, trying to view intranet pages in a decent browser like Firefox is often just wasting your time. Short of a complete overhaul of the entire corporate network (I work for a very popular insurance group, so it’s quite big) I can’t see the switch taking place.

I find it amusing that the company’s IT department have numerous guidelines on how to make external web pages ‘forward-compatible’ but didn’t think to apply the same logic to their intranet.

#25 On August 28th, 2006 8:02 am La domo de karotoj » Esplorilo 7 RC1 replied:

[...] Ĉi tiu blogo estas plejparte neuzebla en Esplorilo 6 pro la “nerulumebla enhavo” cimo. Tio estas unu el la riparataj cimoj en Esplorilo 7. Espereble la fina eldono de Esplorilo 7 baldaŭ haveblos kaj la plejparto da uzuloj perforte aktualiĝos. Komentoj (0) | Reenaĵoj (0) [...]

#26 On October 4th, 2006 11:36 pm Adam McClure replied:

I would like to see Microsoft throw in the towell for Internet Explorer and liscense Firefox or Opera for Vista. That would make things nice and easy. Yeah…

#27 On October 31st, 2006 11:51 pm Matt Froese replied:

Finally, an IE related article I agree with.

While, agreeably, it is nowhere near Opera (lets be honest Firefox is still lacking in the standards department) it is better than IE6 and for that I am excited.

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