As of February 2009, I am discontinuing mainline support for new or updated sites for IE 6 and older IE versions. There are enough known and documented issues in how IE 6 treats CSS that make it cost prohibitive to keep IE 6 as part of the mainstream browsers for customers while also supporting newer browsers and their features.
For the most part, I find that 90% or more of design elements display acceptably in IE 6 (albeit differently than other browsers) and that spending the extra effort for known / documented IE 6 browser issues and trying to create hacks for an older and dying browser to get an exact replica of the page is not a good investment. Customers that desire specific IE 6 support and testing of designs on I E6 will be based on an open ended time and material basis. At the end of the day, if a customer wants to pay the significant costs to support IE 6, I will do so, but the cost of resolving IE 6 specific issues will need to be covered entirely by the customer.
Yahoo, Google, 37 Signals, and other companies have announced similar decisions regarding either limited or discontinued IE6 support. Scott Hanselman of Microsoft even talks about coaxing users to get off IE 6 onto a newer browser.
Who Does This Affect?
As of February 2009, IE6 users range from 11% to 25% of sites I maintain. For the most part, indicators are that the bulk of IE6 users are corporate users that don't have the ability to upgrade because of internal incompatibilities for web sites that don't look well on IE 7.
What Does It Affect?
IE6 has several documented CSS Compatibility differences from other browsers. The areas I see that most commonly affect designs are listed below.
- box model - IE6 calculates a size of a box differently than other browsers. This is the largest portion of the issue for sites as layouts in IE6 will look different than other browsers. There are of course workarounds, but these come at a price of additional effort and incompatibility with other browsers.
- display - Multi-column layouts using float where widths in IE6 are more narrow than other browsers. This causes columns to appear at the bottom of pages instead of on the right side.
- :hover, :active is not available on certain elements in IE6
- :before, :after are not supported in IE6
- min-width, max-width: height
This may change as browser market share change, but for now the following browsers and versions will be supported for 2009.
Other Browsers Not Supported
Chrome (3%) and Opera (1%) do not have enough browser traffic to warrant support at this time.