As a web designer, it’s quite a task to explain to a regular user the disadvantages of Internet Explorer 6.0. Mostly because there are so many reasons to hate the Microsoft browser, that anyone who has to deal with its annoyances will rush into yelling and swearing, and would never be able to make a rational argument. But generally speaking, this is why no one should even consider using IE6:
- It does not comply with web standards
That basically means that web designers and developers have to spend an extra 40% of the time of the project just to make the website look acceptable on it. In many cases, developers give up because you can never make it render the website properly. But unfortunately, that does not change the fact that there is still a significant number of users that continue to stick with it.
- It does not support .png with transparent backgrounds
This is just appalling. There are numerous designs that rely on images with a transparent backgrounds, while using alpha. This means that images that have a shadow, for example, or any sort of gradient, while being on a transparent background will not show up correctly in IE6. The .png format is the only common one that supports those features, and it cannot be rendered by the disgraceful browser. There are some hacks and work-arounds, but they don’t always work, and are inefficient.
- It is insecure
The number of security holes and vulnerabilities is yet another impressive achievement by Microsoft. When browsing the web, it is extremely vital to be safe from potential threats, and with IE6, you are far from that.
- Its performance is really sad
While there are unlimited browser tests out there that would prove this point, it doesn’t take much to realize how much slower IE6 is compared to any browser, on any operating system. It’s slow, it’s sluggish, and just ruins the experience that is normally enjoyable.
- Lacks many features
Who can browse without tabs? How can you surf the net without your favorite Firefox add-ons? After a while, we become used to certain features and certainly cannot live without them. Since IE6 is outdated, users are limited and cannot take advantage of the true beauty of the Internet.
With all of those problems, IE6 continues to be a popular browser. In fact, 14% of the browser market share belongs to IE6. If you haven’t heard, there are strong movements across all corners of the Internet to wipe IE6 off of the world map:
Despite the aggressive campaigns and awareness techniques, Internet Explorer continues to have a significant market share. Ironically, that is mainly Microsoft’s fault. Firstly, IE6 comes pre-installed with Windows XP. And since many users do not allow automatic updates, they remain using this primitive tool. To make it worse, Microsoft released Windows Vista, which was a complete failure, thus forcing users to downgrade to XP, and not not even upgrade their browser. So not only do they produce the worst web browser to date, they reassure it’s prolonged existence with an even worse operating system.
However, there is reason for optimism. The awareness campaigns are reaching more and more users and the Firefox add-ons are catching on by word of mouth. Much more importantly, the official release of Microsoft Windows 7 is just around the corner (ETA: October 2009), which will either ship with Internet Explorer 8, or with nothing at all. It’s simply a matter of time.
To all of the web designers and developers out there, I tell you: hang in there, this will all be over soon.