Originally posted on the Reckless New Media website.
Is it worth bothering to support older versions Internet Explorer?
A poll of just under 18,000 developers on quirksmode.org suggests that around 92% of web development projects are required to support IE8 and around 56% require IE7 support. Further down the scale there's IE6 on 10% and IE5.5 on a measly 1%. If StatCounter is to be believed for UK web usage statistics, IE8 accounts for around 9% of users, IE7 for around 0.85% and the much-hated IE6 for a little less than 0.2% of the market. There's no precise figure for IE5.5, but it is less than 0.01%.
The BBC, who are generally on the money when it comes to technology, have a handy web browser support flow chart for their own sites. From this, their current support for web browsers should look like this*:
|IE 5.5||Level 3 (unsupported)|
|IE 6.0||Level 3 (unsupported)|
|IE 7.0||Level 2 (partially supported)|
|IE 8.0||Level 1 (supported)|
Although it should be noted that IE7 is perilously close to becoming unsupported, and going off the usage trends for the past twelve months it would be something of a surprise for it still to be supported in a couple of months time. IE8 will probably linger around for a couple more years, being the newest version of Microsoft's browser available for Windows XP, but it is hard to argue that there is any justification in still supporting IE7, with some websites have even aggressively discouraged it's usage, unless the website is particularly targeting one user group.
The positive side to removing support is that it frees up a lot of time in dealing with the inconsistencies in little-used web browsers and allows more time and effort to be placed in developing new features and making sites look fresh and exciting for the overwhelming majority (over 98%) of web users out there.