IE 8 Sadly – Dead in the Water


various trumpets

Well Internet Explorer 8 is out of Beta and has finally been released.   It didn’t meet the IE8 in 2008 proclamation that some where betting on.  But no matter at least it is here, better late than never, eh.

Yes it’s faster meaner, clean and generally  a better browser than IE7.   There is lots of fancy stuff I can’t use from a design view as other browsers don’t support it, but innovation is still good.  As a User Experience designer, it’s a nicer browser to work with.  It lines up and supports most of the standards, mind you I do suspect it was written to pass Acid 2 specifically and not o be complaint with all of the upcoming W3C guidelines.

You would suppose now we have IE8, all will be forgiven, the pain of IE6 will be swept away,  everything is going to be sweet and rosy.  Not more design pain, not more impossible CSS  with IE6, no more hacks, just a perfect world of browsers, IE8, Safari, FireFox and Opera.  I can here the bird singing now, as I lazy in this field of cool grass.

IE6  will slowly die off as the corporates move to the new browser leaving IE6 behind, Microsoft is even helping with a conversion guide.   We can even have pages in IE8 look like we are using IE7, with the IE8 compatibility mode. Perfect.  So all is right as Ben Buchanan says we can make 2009  the end of IE6.

It’s Not the Browser

But no this is not to be. We need to look at the big picture folks.  Sadly IE 8 wants to be the IE6 killer, but like its version 7 brother, but it’s still born.  No trumpets or fanfares for IE8.   The problem goes a  lot deeper than the browser.

It’s an operating system issue.

Now let me explain, medium to small business usually upgrade  their systems via a somewhat adhoc process.  With a little testing to ensure the upgrade is going to work,  they then roll it out across the organisation. This means that these smaller organisations can have the lastest browser etc without any hassle.

However larger corporates, where most of the IE6 remaining install base is, will take their time. These guys are very regimented, they work with Standard Operating Environments (SOE), Everything is tested, and tested again to reduce having a support disaster.  In some cases up to one year of testing can occur,with selective users, using the latest operating systems and common use desktop and intranet software.

As we know on the 6th day (IE6) Microsoft rested, and rested and rested.   Well they also rested with Windows 2000.  This resulted with a large corporate uptake of Windows 2000.  Sadly  the most recent browser that operates with Windows 2000 is IE6.  A lot of corporates are using Windows 2000 still, hence they are locked into IE6 , like it or not.   They just don’t have an alternative Microsoft browser that is going to allow them to move forward without changing the operating system.

What Next?

So if we want to help kill off IE6 we really need corporates to consider moving to Windows 7, skipping XP and Vista and as expected with a new SOE there will be the new browser.   Now given the time frame and the conservative nature of these organisations, I can’t see them conducting a mass roll out until early 2010.  Now support for Windows 2000 is due to die in 2010.   So this is a win win for the corporates.

Depending on the Microsoft production cycle that browser in the corporate SOE  may be Internet Explorer 9.

It’s all a numbers game, personally I would like to see IE6 disappear below 2% on my clients browser statistics tomorrow.   That would make me very happy, but as a realist I just know I’m going to be cursing IE6 for a while to come.  Not that the old girl is getting any special treatment these days.

Still I hope that I’m wrong.  What do you think is IE6 now doomed because of IE8?

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