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According to this article from the BBC and this post on Microsoft's Exploring IE Blog, Microsoft has planned to automatically upgrade Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7's IE to the latest version.

Microsoft has stated that they will also allow people to opt-out of this update through the use of the The Internet Explorer 8 and Internet Explorer 9 Automatic Update Blocker toolkits and will respect any previous declined automatic updates. I assume managed corporate IE managers can also block whatever they want.

Microsoft's blog post states that the release will begin in Australia and Brazil to be "scaled up as time goes on."

I'm wondering, from the perspective of a web designer, how rapidly these upgrades are likely to be propagated to average end users, but also especially those in tightly-regulated corporate IT infrastructures. Given best (or common ;) practices in the corporate world, as well as average end-user behaviour, how soon can I stop investing a significant amount of time in backwards-compatibility with IE6 and 7?

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You can stop investing a significant amount of time in backwards-compatibility for IE6 and IE7 today by using progressive enhancement and not caring about pixel perfect CSS. As for end-users, I would expect IE6/7 to drop significantly enough by june to not care about them. In corporate environments you have no luck. –  Raynos Jan 6 '12 at 15:56
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While the @Raynos comment it's true , also is the corporate environents will begin to change in the same way that the deprecated browser version stop working for dialy internet browsing , its true that IE6 is almost tatooed in some corporate enviroments but i think this will change over time. –  Rafael Jan 6 '12 at 21:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Insofar as the ancient question "what browsers should I support" the only good answer is "look at your traffic stats; combine with understanding of expense of what to support and make a rational decision." Anything else is ineffective.

My take on the recent Microsoft action is it is more fluff and PR than anything real. The folks who are still on IE6 are there either out of total ignorance -- which this might help, inability to upgrade (pirated XP / low bandwidth) or, in the corporate case, compatibility angles. I can't think of a corporate IT manager who wants to support IE6 given the security nightmares; oftentimes they have to because some custom line of business app written in 2001 is now cruical and impossible to rewrite to work with modern systems.

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I hear ya! Those legacy apps that don't run requiring people to stay on IE6 is why I brought "managed corporate IT infrastructure" into the question. I also assumed that most end-users on IE6 are there because they don't know how to update, and those in corporate IT are there out of a legacy requirement. Naturally, we analyze traffic. I'm just trying to get a bit of an educated idea on what the future is likely to hold for planning purposes. –  msanford Jan 6 '12 at 16:04
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It's not fluff. This will boost IE9 scores and drop IE8 scores. There are still a lot of end-users on vista/7 that don't use IE9. This will also solve the IE9/IE10 problem because once IE10 get's realeased the majority if IE9 users will auto upgrade. –  Raynos Jan 6 '12 at 16:26
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Note that traffic stats can be biased: if your sites work better on IE than Firefox/Chrome/Safari, your stats are likely to understate the benefit you'd get by making them more general. –  David Thornley Jan 6 '12 at 17:04

This announcement really doesn't change how you should approach browser support. It will merely make upgrades from IE8 on move much faster. Anybody else who is on IE7 or below is there deliberately and this update will force few, if any, upgrades.

That said...

Just stop supporting IE6. In my experience, base on web stats and my work even in coporate is that IE6 is effectively a non-factor at this point. So many MAJOR websites (Amazon, Facebook, etc...) have stopped supporting it, there is no reason for you to support it either.

Analyze traffic for your users, see what they are currently using. Make a determination if you can stop supporting an older version of IE. Chances are you will still need to support IE7, though, I suspect not for long as I believe Facebook is dropping support...others will start following soon. However, you alone can make that determination, based on your traffic stats and your average expected clients.

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Don't underestimate the users on IE6/7 that simply don't know "how" to upgrade their browsers. I'd estimate the percentage drops noticably by removing that user group from IE6/7 –  Raynos Jan 7 '12 at 3:25

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