Facebook doesn’t really support IE6

Blimey. I didn’t realise that Facebook are trending down support for IE6. The “new look” is disabled, and if you use the old look you get a big message complaining about your browser choice:

You may want to upgrade your browser [from IE6]

Two interesting things here: first, they recommend that you try another browser, and give a list of Firefox, Safari, and Flock as well as “upgrade to Internet Explorer 7”. Flock? I bet the Opera people are a bit hacked off about that. Second: there have been a few cases so far of people dropping support for IE6 (MobileMe, not that that really counts because all its users are Mac people, and 37 Signals, ditto), but nothing remotely as high-profile as Facebook. This is the boot starting to descend, I think. IE6 is already the bugbear of the industry (and has been for some time: I said “Internet Explorer is the new Netscape 4” in 2005 and I was hardly the first!); how long before we see support for it drop to Netscape 4 levels of “you get the unenhanced non-JavaScript version”? I’d like to see more people publish browser stats for their websites. Yes, they’re unreliable, yes people change their user agent, blah blah blah. They’ll give us an indication, though; how many people out there are using IE6? Google Analytics tells me that 36% of my visitors are using IE, and 37% of those are using IE6, which means that IE6 visitors to my site are down to under 15%. (If you’re not using Analytics, analog -G -A +a +B <apache logfile> will give you a browser list, as will many other things.) Other people will doubtless differ, and I’d be thoroughly interested in seeing more of these percentages from sites with a different user-base to mine. If you’re a company, tell us what percentage of your users are using IE6! We’re not going to get stats out of Google or Yahoo or the BBC, but non-behemoths will do fine here. Everyone else, start thinking: where’s the cut-off point? How low does IE6’s market share need to go before it’s reasonable to not devote extra development time to it? “Extra” is the keyword there — people thinking “hey, Opera/Safari/Firefox 3/IE8 has less than 15% market share in my statistics, let’s cut them off, Mr. Microsoft Hater” need to consider that modern browsers don’t (or at least shouldn’t) take any extra development time to work around their idiosyncrasies. (In practice, Safari does require more extra development time than I’d like, I find, but its market share is high enough (or the idiosyncracies are infrequent enough) that supporting it is broadly worth the effort.) So: if you have IE6 stats, publish them. If you’re a web hacker: when should we cut off the ailing IE6’s life support? Speak now…

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