Friday, July 17, 2009

Must IE6 die?

One of the top Trending Topics in Twitter is "IE6 Must Die". Superficially, the arguments in favor of retiring this old browser are quite reasonable, but in a deeper sense the arguments are really a pile of crap.

I believe in natural evolution. IE6 will eventually die off of its own accord as users abandon it over time. The very idea that developers and vendors seek to force IE 6 users to upgrade merely to primarily benefit developers and venders is simply morally indefensible.

The very first and most important principal that everyone should keep in mind is that users want simpler applications and web sites, not more complicated applications and web sites. Developers and vendors may certainly have a vested interest in producing ever-more sophisticated and complicated applications and web sites, but that is not an indicator of the interests or needs of usersAny IE6 user can easily and freely use Windows Update to upgrade to IE 7 or even IE 8, if they really want to gain access to more sophisticated features. The very fact that many users are choosing not to update is a good indicator that they are not interested in more complicated applications and web sites.

Developers and vendors may think (fantasize) that users really need all of this extra sophistication and complication, but a neutral observer will likely find that they are mistaken. Users want simplicity!

I'm not opposed to innovation, but if developers and vendors really feel that they can produce a dramatically superior user experience with more modern browsers, then they should go for it, provided that they also continue to provide a decent experience for more average and normal users. If developers and vendors find that the extra expense of maintaining two distinct user experiences is too high, then guess what... a neutral observer is likely to find that the "perceived" benefits in the minds of the developers and vendors are probably not there in the real world of real users.

There will come a time, maybe two or three years down the road, especially after the economic recovery becomes much stronger and users choose to upgrade to Windows 7 and IE 8 (or beyond) when IE6 will effectively have died off. Until then, developers should behave themselves and treat users with a lot more respect than they are doing today with this irresponsible "IE6 Must Die" campaign.

Even simple-minded Twitter has a web site that is already way too complicated for its nominally simple purpose. Message to all developers and vendors: Keep it simple!!!

To be clear, users are not the property of developers and vendors to abuse as they see fit. Even "evil" Microsoft knows that! It is certainly in Microsoft's interests to upgrade users to IE 7 or 8, but even Microsoft knows that they have to have at least some sensitivity to the needs of their markets.

There is a simple way to characterize the mentaility behind this whole "IE6 Must Die" "movement": unbridled arrogance.

Let me assure everyone that IE6 Will Die (eventually), but that day is still a distance off into the future. Let's wait for Windows 7 general deployment and for IE 8 to become the common version of IE, and maybe then IE6 will be a lot closer to falling (naturally, of its own accord) off the radar screens of developers and vendors.

-- Jack Krupansky


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