Support for Internet Explorer 6 (IE6)

Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) is a web browser developed by Microsoft. IE6 was released in 2001 and is known to be a problematic web browser. It does not comply with web standards and lacks the support for new web technology. It is also plagued with computer security issues. However, it is still used by many web users across the world. Google has recently announced that it would phase out support for IE6. Web developers should also consider if they want to drop support for IE6 as well.

According to the Net Market Share statistics, IE6 is still used by 20% of web users in January 2010. This represents a large number of web users and it is difficult to ignore them. Web developers need to write additional codes so that the websites would work well in IE6.

There are a number of techniques a web developer can use to support IE6.

A web developer can write a separate CSS stylesheet for IE6. By using special HTML comments in the <head> section of a web page, IE6 would recognize that it needs to use the code while the other browsers would safely ignore it. For example, the following code would force Internet Explorer lower than IE7 to use the ie6.css stylesheet:

<!–[if lt IE 7]>
<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”ie6.css” mce_href=”ie6.css” />

There are other problems with IE6 e.g. unable to display transparent PNG files. A web developer may use the IE8.js JavaScript codes, found on Google Code, to patch the website for IE6. Link to the JavaScript codes can be added in the HTML IE comments as well.

For IE6 problems which cannot be solved by separate CSS stylesheet and IE8.js, a web developer should use a web programming language e.g. PHP to build special code when IE6 browser is detected. It is an effective way to provide IE6 support for small websites.

But for large websites, writing special codes for IE6 can become hard to manage. It can be even more difficult for large websites which offer modern web applications to continue support for IE6. Therefore, it is sensible for Google and other large websites e.g. YouTube, Facebook to discontinue support for IE6. This allows them to focus on developing modern websites with great features.

In conclusion, we recommend web users to stop using IE6 and switch to the latest web browsers. For computer security reasons, web users should use Firefox or Google Chrome and install the latest patch and update on their computer. Web developers should decide if they want to continue support for IE6 based on the purpose of the websites.


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