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These days is it required to test a desktop website for IE6 and IE7? Or is IE8 and IE9 enough?

I heard that IE8 has replaced IE7.

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Voted to migrate to Programmers, for that is very much a programming business decision: "we'll support IE7, all right, but it will cost you $foo extra, and another $bar to support the Crawling Chaos". Depends on the site's target audience, too: SO can gat away with "no IE6, limited IE7", as its users know what those are and why they shouldn't use them. But anyway, at the very least, you should try for graceful degradation (if gradual enhancement is not feasible). –  Piskvor Jun 1 '11 at 8:57
    
(as for the requirements, my anecdotal evidence: I don't recall when we last had a client insisting on IE6; some still require IE7) –  Piskvor Jun 1 '11 at 9:05
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jun 3 '11 at 6:46

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9 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

You need to consider your where your target audience is from.

For example, looking at the United Kingdom:

http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-GB-monthly-201005-201105

Results: 1.72% IE6, and 6.66% IE7.

So for websites designed for UK businesses targeting UK clients, I feel safe dropping IE6. I try to make it work in IE7 where possible, but it's fine if it's not perfect. It's much the same story for America.

On the other hand, if you're looking at India:

http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-IN-monthly-201005-201105

Results: 11.81% IE6, and 5.33% IE7.

IE6 actually has higher usage than IE7. I can't comment on India, but those statistics don't look good.

China makes me cry:

http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-CN-monthly-201005-201105

Results: 40.54% IE6, and 5.64% IE7.

Worldwide:

http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-ww-monthly-201005-201105

Results: 3.84% IE6, and 6.39% IE7.

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So we should ask to client about in which country his website will be visited mostly. –  Jitendra Vyas Jun 1 '11 at 9:23
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Even in the UK, the numbers can vary wildly. The user base for our intranet application is almost entirely using either IE6 or IE7. :-( –  Alohci Jun 1 '11 at 16:03
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@Alohci: You have my condolences :) –  thirtydot Jun 1 '11 at 16:45
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Sadly there are large sectors of the UK public sector (especially intranets) that are stuck with IE6 due to need to support legacy apps and inertia. For these clients, you do need to support them. –  Dan Diplo Jun 3 '11 at 8:32
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Look at your own web analytics stats (You do have analytics, right?). That'll tell you how many IE6 users you have. Then make a business decision.

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True: it does not matter what is the global trend, what matters is the browser your visitors / customers uses. –  OnesimusUnbound Jun 3 '11 at 6:49
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If your site doesn't support IE6, it's likely that your analytics will tell you that very few visitors use IE6, regardless of how many of your potential visitors would. If you do support IE6, your analytics will do a good job of telling you whether to continue support or not. –  David Thornley Sep 27 '11 at 14:36
    
Depends, even if your site doesn't support IE6 and 20% of new visitors to your site are IE6, that'll show up on your stats. You will still see IE6 numbers there. You should make a business decision then. –  Rory Sep 27 '11 at 15:53
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See Internet Explorer Browser Statistics. Personally, I think you should not care anymore of IE6: those users háve to upgrade, and this is one way to reach that. I would care for the 5% IE7 is still scoring though.

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They don't have to upgrade - they'll just get stuck with crappier- and crappier-looking pages. It would seem that the people who were capable of migrating from IE6 already did - what we're seeing are 1) corporate desktops (which will only go away with a HW upgrade) and 2) computers without WinUpdate (hosts to much bloat and malware, most likely). Neither are likely to upgrade, or get an "alternative" browser. –  Piskvor Jun 1 '11 at 9:12
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According to our Firestats (web statistic tool) and various statistics on the internet, there is a significant number of ie6 users out there. so if you want to satisfy every single user, you should test for ie6 too. microsoft itself discourages the use of ie6. they also have a website with the sole purpose to reduce the number of ie6 users (link)

dont know about ie7 though, but in terms of website development there are only small differences between ie6 and ie7

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some personal experience: the (commercial) web application we offer explicitly doesnt support IE6. we too had the problem that many (corporate) clients had IE6 only and no privileges to upgrade, but until now we were able to convince their IT departments to upgrade or switch to another browser. –  MarioP Jun 1 '11 at 9:20
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If your web site is a public facing site, then you could use whatever web stats (e.g. Google Analytics) you have in place to determine what proportion of your users are still using IE6, 7.

Alternatively, this Wikipedia page lists the market share of different versions of IE over the years. For April 2011, the figures are 2.41% for IE9, 33.06% for IE8, 7.35% for IE7 and 10.85% for IE6.

Note that these figures are not representative of overall market share, but within the share that IE has in general alongside other browsers (60% in 2010).

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My brief take on this is:

  1. Should it be functional in IE6? Yes, if at all possible.
  2. Should it look the same, or be as pretty, as that seen in newer browsers? No.

In other words, try and make it usable in IE6 but don't care about rendering problems or bugs in layout. You could always use something like http://ie6update.com/ to give users a gentle warning.

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I was about to upvote this answer when I saw the last sentence. Most users don't use IE6 by choice. Most of them are in companies where the policy is to use IE6 (either for a good reason or just because management is stupid), or they just don't know what is a browser and what are versions. In both cases, such alert message will just annoy them, nothing more. –  MainMa Sep 27 '11 at 11:33
    
@MainMa I think it depends on the audience. Certainly for public sector then you are right - but for sites that actually require the functionality of a modern browser (think some of Google's latest services) then the cost of trying to maintain backward compatibility is too onerous and a gentle hint to nudge users to upgrade is a good thing. –  Dan Diplo Sep 30 '11 at 7:32
    
The problem is, it will not be perceived as a "gentle hint" by too many visitors. Some will perceive it just like another popup or a trick to download malicious software or whatsoever; others will perceive it as "you guys suck to use old and crappy software, or to work in such company which forces you to do so". –  MainMa Sep 30 '11 at 13:40
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I am not sure how right the following statistics is, but according to it IE6 has 10% and IE7 - 7% of browser marketshare.

http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?spider=1&qprid=2

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Oh IE6 has 10% and IE7 - 7%, Intresting –  Jitendra Vyas Jun 1 '11 at 9:03
    
@Jitendra: IE6 could indeed be more prevalent than IE7. It could be that these numbers are dominated by the number of people who are stuck with them, and IE6 got a lot more entrenched than IE7. –  David Thornley Sep 27 '11 at 15:38
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It depends on numerous factors, but IE6 and IE7 totally didn't go away overnight. I'm doing a job for a big corporation at the moment, and while there's a lot of money there, the upgrade to Windows 7 (and away from IE6) is only planned to be finished in 2012.

The best way to decide if there is a current website, you can just look at the visitor stats for browser versions. Otherwise try to find a website with similar audience and with published stats to gauge how much you need to worry about legacy browsers.

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I think it depends a lot on the audience the site is aimed at. If it's aimed at a developer crowd (like a vast majority of people who come to places like Stack Overflow, I would assume) then IE8 and IE9 will be fine. A lot of our clients are businesses with offices all over the place so we still have to optimise for IE6 (grrr)

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