Monty Python said it best.
“I’m not dead yet”
“Yes you are” Conk.
If you are developing for, or God forbid you use Internet Explorer, you need to be aware that if it’s not dead yet it’s pretty darn close. The Microsoft Developers Network Blog recently publish a great blog post about the rapid life cycle of IE. It should make you think about something important.
Why You Need To Develop For Or Ditch Internet Explorer
Let’s look at browser market share.
So, you can see that even if we average out the numbers, Chrome is the dominant browser on the market for desktops. When you add in Firefox, you are looking at 60 – 70% of the market. With the mobile market, it’s a no brainer that it’s Safari and Chrome have a total lock on the mobile market thanks to iOs and Android.
Sure, IE only has a small niche of the market so why should I concern myself with it?
We recently had a client with a financial service company that needed a site. Clean and modern of course, and naturally it was responsive. However, he started getting reports from clients that it wasn’t working.
It turns out, that he had a fair number of clients that were still using IE down to IE6. They were primarily users that were using a really old, never updated Windows XP systems. So we ended up being able, with a fair amount of work, to keep the site responsive while being able to be fully workable on IE7. IE6 and responsive just wasn’t going to happen.
Developers, do you need to pay attention to totally unsupported OS’s and browsers?
If you build a site that is heavily with the elderly or educational markets, XP is still very much a presence. It’s dying quickly since Microsoft themselves pulled the support plug on XP. But what about the other parts of the market?
Right now, Microsoft is trying to do forced updates to make their still supported operating systems upgrade to the most recent upgrades available This means only IE9 and IE11.
You may note that IE 10 is quite literally nowhere to be found. Why? Every Windows computer since 2009 is getting the forced upgrade to IE 11. Vista only has 3% market share so IE 9 is a total throw away.
But what about XP? XP sadly still has around 23% of the market. Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot. Given that Microsoft has abandoned XP & IE support on it, most users have moved on to Chrome or Mozilla who ironically support the OS.
Why Do I Need To Even Bother With IE.
Ok, so IE 9 & 11 maybe account for 1 in 10 browsers. Could you reasonably ignore 10% of the market? There are companies that have made billions by ignoring giants swaths of the market place. But, for developers, you actually do need to pay very real attention to developing for IE 9 & 11.
It’s Where IE Is Being Used That Is Important
IE is the default browser on Windows machines and Windows is still dominant in the business world. Most IT departments are pretty strict about what you can install on a work pc. That’s usually nothing at all.
So, if you want to develop, you need to do it for IE. Otherwise, you are going to miss out on people that are at work. Sure, mobile sites and responsive design is important so you can catch them on their phones and tablets at work, you need to be able to catch them while they’re at their desk.
I’m Not A Developer, So Why Should I Care?
Another good question. If you are happy with IE11, then congratulations on finding something you like. There are some neat things that IE can do, but be aware that you are actually missing out on a LOT of really neat things.
Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are extensible. In plain English, you can get add-ons that allow you to enhance and improve your web browsing experience. There are extension that allow you to block ads, download video, and improve your productivity. That makes web browsing a whole lot more pleasurable, productive, and fun.
Summing It All Up
While Internet Explorer is a narrow part of the market, a smart developer won’t ignore it, no matter how much you may want to. Ignoring IE means you loose a lot of opportunities to reach eyeballs in the corporate market. For a site owner or developer, that is as Martha Stewart would say, not a good thing.