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IE8 roll-out will finally kill IE6

Microsoft has announced that from next week, it will begin deploying its Internet Explorer 8 browser to the majority of users via Automatic Update — and there was much rejoicing and a feeling of relief.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor on

Microsoft has announced that from next week, it will begin deploying its Internet Explorer 8 browser to the majority of users via Automatic Update — and there was much rejoicing and a feeling of relief.

The installation of IE8 will be opt-in, with Microsoft releasing a Blocker Toolkit for enterprise administrators wishing to prevent this installation of the new browser. IE8 will hit Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) in July. Users running beta or release candidate version of IE8 should already see the browser in Automatic Updates.

Hallelujah!
In the blog post making the announcement, it was said that the focus for updating IE would initially be narrow and expand out, eventually getting to WSUS in July.

ie6.png

IE6: it's not dead yet, in fact it wants to go for a walk.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

Over the next three months, expect to see the steady decline of IE6 accelerate to near total extinction. And as a web developer, I've looked forward to this day for a long, long time.

With IE6 now consigned to history, suddenly HTML, CSS and JavaScript development will get a heck of a lot easier. There will be enclaves of IE6 installations within enterprises, but they can look after themselves.

The rest of us can now drop one level of browser targeting and use our work hours on activities other than making a new site work in an eight-year-old browser that is the bane of our existence.

The long tail of IE
This is the part where I inject real statistics to undermine the joyous glee of the death of IE6.

Unfortunately, Internet Explorer versions have a bad habit of hanging around for far too long than they ought to. Take the graph below which shows the percentage of IE class browsers on ZDNet.comm.au since February 2006:

ieclass.png

IE browsers: a very long tail indeed.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

So far it appears that whenever Microsoft releases a new browser, all it does is dilute the pool of Internet Explorers by another version. For an example of how updating a browser should appear like, here is the graph over much the same time period for the Firefox class of browsers:

firefoxclass.png

Firefox browsers: out with the old and in with the new.
(Credit: Chris Duckett/ZDNet.com.au)

Straight away it's clear to see Firefox versions 2 and 3 replacing their predecessors over a comparatively better period of time than Internet Explorer does.

I sincerely wish that this time around, Microsoft would properly remove one of the thorns that has been in the web's and web developers' side for years. History is not on my side, but there is no better time to make IE6 a part of it.

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