Until now, Web Designers have had to test all of their designs in IE 6 before launching a website, because so many Windows users still use it. Fortunately, those days are coming to an end. Microsoft is planning to force all Windows users to upgrade their Internet Explorer version to IE 7. This is extremely welcoming news to the Web Design community. What it means is that they will no longer have to test their designs in IE 6, especially now that it’s being discontinued. There was a similar feeling among Web Designers a few years ago when Microsoft decided to discontinue Internet Explorer for Mac – another disaster of a browser.
To get an idea of how frustrating it is to develop sites for IE 6, I’ll give you an example from a typical project. At Lift we initially code our HTML (XHTML and CSS) and test it in Firefox or Safari. It generally doesn’t matter which one we use for our initial testing, because both of those browsers are considered standards compliant, which means they should render correctly if the code was written well. We tend to use Firefox more often as there are a slew of indispensible tools for debugging sites like the Web Developer Toolbar and Firebug. After we finish the coding, we then test it in IE 7. IE 7 is a surprisingly good browser – not perfect, but good. It handles CSS very well and also supports transparent PNGs. The last step – usually the most painful – is making it work in IE 6. Since we often use a lot of AJAX, CSS and transparent PNGs in our designs, we end up having to spend hours creating hacks and workarounds to make everything render correctly in IE 6. It’s timely, expensive and it pisses us off to no end.
Forcing Windows users to finally update to IE 7 will shave off countless hours of needless hacking and additional coding, which is a welcomed sigh of relief. Although Microsoft’s reasons for forcing the update on Windows users is because of security, the only reason for Web Designers is because it will take IE out of the dark ages.