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Interesting article: Developing for old browsers is (almost) a thing of the past

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Community saint

Found this article interesting, especially in light of Chris considering dropping support for older versions of IE: Developing for old browsers is (almost) a thing of the past - (37signals)

I doubt many of our sites has such a favorable modern browser mix as 37 signals/Basecamp but it appears a shift is in process with people adopting newer browsers.

Bob
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BobS said

but it appears a shift is in process with people adopting newer browsers.
One site's stats does not a trend make. You just have to read some of the comments of that article to see that there are plenty with very different user mixes.

One of reason given was because of auto updating. I personally will never enable auto-updating for a browser I use, or use a browser that forces auto-updating. That is just far too big a security risk for me to take.

The only auto-updating I allow is to anti-virus and firewall software, and even they have caused a few problems in the past, but they always get fixed quickly.

Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S / Galaxy S II ? If so, why not check out my ScreenFree FM Radio .
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Community saint

I did read the comments but you kind of glossed over the first part of that quote where I said "I doubt many of our sites has such a favorable modern browser mix as 37 signals/Basecamp". But this is also not the first article I've read along these lines, just the most forcefully worded.

The holdouts are largely systems in enterprise running IE6. This number is falling as a by-product of the age of these systems and increased BYOD policies where IE6 may not be the only browser on the device. Many sites are willing to gamble that they will not loose much traffic because the people who frequent those sites will be consumer customers running browsers other than IE6. In fact, I believe that Basecamp has a higher-than-average SMB userbase due to the service they provide yet even they are saying "Let's move on."

Bob
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BobS said

I did read the comments but you kind of glossed over the first part of that quote where I said "I doubt many of our sites has such a favorable modern browser mix as 37 signals/Basecamp".
I didn't gloss over it, I just didn't comment on it. I actually agree with your comment, but was only responding to the generalised comments.
But this is also not the first article I've read along these lines
I'm sure its not. I've also come across other such articles, and as with this one, the there were similar dissenting comments.
The holdouts are largely systems in enterprise running IE6.
Enterprises are the most obvious ones, but arguable the non tech savy general public is a much larger user base. Many of them are not going to be chasing browsers upgrades and will only upgrade when they update their system, or when they have a problem and get their machines fixed.

I suspect that these are also the ones that have auto updates enabled only because it may be a default state, and not because they have necessarily made a conscious decision about it.
This number is falling as a by-product of the age of these systems and increased BYOD policies where IE6 may not be the only browser on the device.
And by the same token these are the ones that will always be behind. They will always be playing catch-up, even after they dump IE6, but the gap will be less significant/detrimental over time.
Many sites are willing to gamble that they will not loose much traffic because the people who frequent those sites will be consumer customers running browsers other than IE6.
True, but who knows what percentage of users those 'many' will cater to.
In fact, I believe that Basecamp has a higher-than-average SMB userbase due to the service they provide yet even they are saying "Let's move on."
And they have balanced the cost of supporting IE6 to the loss of revenue for not supporting it and have concluded that it is a positive for them.

But can you imaging if Facebook was to come out and say to their 800+ million users that they will only support browser x version y. I'm sure it would hurt them significantly.

Do you have a Samsung Galaxy S / Galaxy S II ? If so, why not check out my ScreenFree FM Radio .
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Facebook, Amazon, eBay and others will always provide support for older browsers but even here I sense a change is coming.

I think many OSes and devices will be moving to more aggressive updating tactics. I don't agree with it because, like you, nothing gets updated on my system without my explicit approval.

I think there are many variables here. For instance, I think that this may be less an issue in industrialized countries but that developing countries may well be behind the curve. It then comes down to the site owner to determine the net negative of dropping support for these older browsers. With all the major browsers now supporting CSS3, I think that many sites are willing to make this move because it lowers their development costs as a trade-off to losing some visitors.

I'm not saying, nor does the article suggest (they placed "almost" in parentheses), that there will be a rush to dropping support for older browsers, just that this choice is picking up momentum.

Bob
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