Is Internet Explorer 6 finally on it’s way out?

The internet has constantly bounded forward at an alarming rate. I remember when we early web designers gushed at being able to make text blink on and off. Wow.

Now you can drag elements around screens, interact with sites even build your own at the click of a button, stream video, download audio. If you can think it, chances are somewhere in the world someone is working out how to do it.

One of the greatest challenges web browsers have to face is being ‘forward compatible’ to ensure they are not out of date the second they are released.

Which brings me to one of the biggest mysteries on the internet.

Why is a browser that had it’s last update in 2001 (that’s right dear reader, nine years ago) still specified as a requirement for government projects and many larger corporations?

The answer I suspect is simple. The security for IE6 can be controlled on the server rather than at each individual access point (computer). This makes life very easy for IT departments as it’s one configuration rather than many.

But what are we missing out on as a result of this?

Many new technologies on the internet don’t fair too well in IE6. What is now considered to be ‘best practice’ for online design an development always has to include a ‘work around’ for IE6.

In short, it’s become very out dated.

News today however might make governments and organisations re-think their IT strategy regarding browsers. Google is about to phase out support for IE6 from March 1st 2010.

Initially it will only be for what it describes as ‘lesser’ areas such as Google Docs and it’s Blogger Sites (personally I think the Bloggers sites are more than just a ‘lesser’ service). But soon it also plans to stop supporting other services such as Gmail and Google Apps.

Once this support goes, I suspect that most developers will also stop holding back on progress simply to support and ageing relic.

If you want to see a beautifully presented diagram showing how IE6 usage is beginning to decline, click on the following link (please note this may not work with IE6).