will ie6 ever die?

I have been keeping track of the visits to my clients’ websites that use Internet Explorer 6 (IE6), with the idea that some day the share of IE6 to total browsers will fall to less than 5%. At that point, I can justify not developing websites that support IE6. It’s frustrating to have to develop two versions of every website (for clients that expect to pay for only one): one for browsers that take advantage of current standards and one specifically for IE6, which is non-standard. Even 2nd generation browsers (Firefox 3, Safari 3) don’t entirely gag on HTML5 and CSS3. IE6, on the other hand, is so far behind in interpretation of W3C standards that it is necessary to develop a mirror site to accommodate the IE6-specific code.

I assumed that IE6 would finally drop out of the mix sometime in 2009 but it is holding pretty steady between 5 and 10% for a couple of years. What gives? Its use is not specific to developing countries. It seems like people would upgrade just to move away from a browser that not only is non-standard but a notorious opening for all sorts of malware.

So why don’t we just develop sites for IE7 and later (not that IE7 is exactly “standard”, either)? It seems that corporate use of IE6 as a platform for browser-specific applications is keeping the overall market share of IE6 at about 16%. This means that corporations and large organizations who have invested heavily in development of IE6-specific applications will be slow to adopt more current browsers, requiring them to rewrite these applications. It seems that IE6 will not go away anytime soon. This is a sobering piece of news.


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