Many a year ago, to ‘surf’ the Internet, we all clicked that ever-present ‘blue e’ icon, Internet Explorer. This of course, was only natural—it was all we knew.
At the height of it’s dominance in 2002 and 2003, Microsoft commanded 95% of the web browser market-share with Internet Explorer 6. Because of it’s then-unchallenged position, the browser was allowed to stagnate, holding back innovation and potential on the web.
IE6 was released in 2001 alongside Windows XP. There were legal issues regarding the bundling of Internet Explorer with the Operating System, due to the huge PC Operating System market share that Microsoft had. Aside from the legalities, IE6 has also caused many headaches for web designers over the years, so it’s a subject myself and Wayne hold close to heart.
However, as with any industry or market, competition is a good thing, for both companies and customers (even in the banner printing industry!). Even more so with something now so fundamentally important to our way of life and conducting business as the Internet.
In November 2004, Mozilla (a non-profit organisation) released a new web browser: Firefox. Web designers like myself rejoiced and quickly adopted this far superior browser. We’ve also spent years recommending it to family members and friends. It caught Microsoft sleeping and has steadily grown in popularity. At time of writing, it has somewhere around 27% share of the world’s browser market.
Though Firefox has been the biggest competitor to IE so far, other companies have also stepped up over the years with their own web browsers.
Opera has been around for many years, but struggled to gain much adoption. Apple has Safari, which is creeping up the charts with the help of it’s mobile version supplied on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. And, of course, we have Google, which released Chrome in 2008; a browser which has shot up to around 15%-20% market share already.
Our Browser Stats
Compared to the scene five years ago, where one web browser dominated the market, we now have a very different situation. These are the stats for our website over the last couple of months:
- Internet Explorer: 43.98%
- (of which Version 9: 21.46%)
- (of which Version 8: 62.85%)
- (of which Version 7: 13.33%)
- (of which Version 6: 2.36%)
- Firefox: 22.84%
- Safari: 18.22%
- Chrome: 13.73%
- Opera and Others: 0.42%
With the exception of a higher Safari share, our stats seem to be relatively similar to the global average.
Where Are We Now?
In a world where people are increasingly accessing the web from a multitude of devices, browsers and locations, it’s the job of web developers to bring them the best experience possible.
This is why we have decided to cease support for outdated browsers such as Internet Explorer 6 & 7. Catering for the lowest common denominator limits what we as web designers and developers can achieve, holds back the potential of what we can build, and adds a painful amount of extra time to any website project. For our small in-house development team to continue supporting five year-old software just isn’t practical. Don’t forget that ‘internet years’ aren’t far off ‘dog years’: these browsers are actually much older than they seem!
Future versions of our websites will be built with (very cool) modern technologies and techniques, which these old browsers are unable to cope with. For example, you wouldn’t be rocking a five year-old mobile phone (or smartphone) and expect to get the features and advantages that more recent models bring. Web browsers are no different—things move on, especially when the Internet is involved.
Not Supporting… Wait, What?
Put simply, it means that we won’t be testing our websites in these older browsers. They may look ‘broken’ or otherwise ‘wrong’, though our websites could still be usable from a functionality point-of-view, though we don’t recommend you try to find out. If you visit the Venture Banners website in an old version of IE today, you will most likely notice a lovely bright warning box. This might seem a tad blunt, but hey, at least we’re upfront about why the site might look a bit borked, and we make sure to point you towards some much better options.
2001 Called. It Wants It’s Browser Back.
IE 6 was released before the September 11th attacks. Before the U.S. entered Afghanistan. Before Enron went bankrupt. Before the South Korea & Japan World Cup. Before I left school! In short, it’s pretty darn old.
Just recently, Microsoft themselves announced Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, a campaign to encourage people to stop using the outdated browser and upgrade to a newer version. We couldn’t agree with them more.
And it’s not just Microsoft urging people to upgrade. During 2010 and 2011, large internet companies like Google, YouTube and Facebook announced that they are stopping support for IE6. Governments too, have realised the very real security dangers of using old software. Both Germany and France strongly advised their citizens to upgrade to newer browsers.
But even if you’re still using one of these older browsers, don’t worry; we won’t let you go away empty-handed!
These days, the web browser market is looking much healthier—we’re spoilt for choice. In early March, Chrome 10 was released. Less than a week later, we had the release of Internet Explorer 9. Then a week after that, we saw the release of Firefox 4 (and more recently, Chrome 12 and Firefox 5).
Although we don’t have the time or space to go into the details and advantages of each browser here, we would like to take this opportunity to recommend any of the following:
Here in the Venture Banners offices, we use a combination of both Firefox and Chrome.
One caveat to note is that IE9 is only available to users running Windows Vista or 7. Users of Windows XP would be wise to upgrade to one of the other browsers listed. Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari will all run on Windows and Mac OS X.
These are the best and most popular web browsers that are made for the modern web of today. All of them are free to download, easy to install, and will bring you noticeable improvements to your browsing experience if you’re currently on an older browser.
Get a shiny new web browser and make the Internet smile.