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I can no longer use Stack Overflow from my company (I work for a major bank) as IE6 is the standard browser and there are no plans to upgrade.

Why have the designers chosen to discontinue IE6 support?

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Because Microsoft decided to discontinue IE6? –  Diago Dec 14 '10 at 11:26
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I'm not sure I'd want to have an account with a bank that forces (even allows!) their developers to access the internet with a browser that doesn't get updated anymore. –  balpha Dec 14 '10 at 11:28
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See here and here - thats just for starters... –  Barry Dec 14 '10 at 11:29
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IE6 is the bane of the internet. Your 'major bank' needs to move into the 21st century - else it won't be 'major' for long. (I don't mean to be too mean - I have the same problem at my work. Luckily, they let Linux users do their own thing.) –  sje397 Dec 14 '10 at 11:53
    
I'm suggesting duplicate with/of Barrys first link. –  Time Traveling Bobby Dec 14 '10 at 11:56
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+1 for asking "why?" instead of saying "fix it!" –  Piskvor Dec 14 '10 at 15:11
    
@Psikvor: You mean like this? ;) –  gnostradamus Dec 14 '10 at 15:23
    
@gnsotramudas: Indeed :D That's actually a pretty accurate portrayal of one SO character class, the Non-Googler ;) –  Piskvor Dec 14 '10 at 15:42
    
If your major bank insists on running outdated software, then they should at least set it up for Google Chrome Frame. –  mario Dec 14 '10 at 15:46
    
@mario: Getting GCF is - for maintenance purposes - even more work than "get Chrome" - if the bank won't even upgrade IE, I don't foresee them installing another browser. The businesses keeping at IE6 are sometimes keeping back because rolling out new SW at thousands of machines is no simple feat. –  Piskvor Dec 14 '10 at 15:50
    
Because IE6 is dumb! Chrome, and Safari are MUCH better. –  Linuxmint Dec 15 '10 at 17:18
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5 Answers

up vote 25 down vote accepted

To expand on @Kop's answer: Internet Explorer 6 was released on August 27, 2001 according to Wikipedia. It is now almost a decade later - how many 9-year-old browsers are the website developers supposed to support? Netscape 4.6? Opera 6? Firefox 0.9? (does anyone still remember those, much less use them? Check this timeline to see what were the state-of-the-art browsers then.)

IE6 is old and very broken. It was created and rolled out to a very different Internet than we see now - it was expected that people will write sites for IE6, as it was a pretty modern browser then, with all kinds of cool features. Since that time, both the Internet and Internet Explorer have moved on - complaining that IE6 has problems on modern sites is like grumbling that the Ford Model T is not well suited for today's superhighways.

Although a lot of sites today still work in IE6 (but see this anecdotal article), what you probably don't see is this: a large chunk of resources goes into the hacks required to keep the sites usable in IE6; resources that could get a better use somewhere else.

The longer we delude ourselves that it's a normal, modern, usable browser, the longer we'll need to bend over backwards to accomodate for it - and the longer the users will say "but everyone else supports this, why can't you?". That last exclamation is not even true anymore - amongst others, even the giants have resigned from creating specific hacks for IE6 - even its maker, Microsoft; why should anyone else?

It's unfortunate that some institutions are clinging to this very old browser; but as long as the web still kind of works in IE6, we'll still see IE6 ("why should we upgrade it? It works for us, we don't care what you had to do to achieve that").

Incidentally, I've just fired up a VM with IE6 (which I keep for the clients who insist that IE6 is the One True Way and won't have it any other way), and SO seems fairly usable from there. It looks a bit ugly, there are obvious rendering bugs, but I don't see anything that would rate as "cannot use SO in IE6". What problems exactly do you see? (Note that these may be the artifacts of your specific IE configuration - certain plugins etc can mess up IE6 pretty badly)


Update: It seems that Microsoft is now trying to get some good PR by jumping on the IE6 Hate Bandwagon, and is actively pushing for its eradication. If that is not a convincing enough reason that IE6 is truly obsolete, then nothing will ever be.

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"To expand on @kop's answer" - Haha. –  jjnguy Dec 14 '10 at 15:06
    
December 2010 minus August 2001: that's not 8 but 9 year old milk! (Does that Microsoft ad make it official that even Microsoft wonders how this could have lasted longer than, say, a week?) –  Arjan Dec 14 '10 at 15:33
    
@Arjan: Oh, it's nine years already. Good catch, updated. (IE6 was a marked improvement over IE 5.5 at the time; alas, that's not enough momentum to last forever.) –  Piskvor Dec 14 '10 at 15:39
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If SOIS isn't going to support Lynx 2.8.4 I don't even know why Stack Exchange exists. Shut it down. –  user149432 Dec 14 '10 at 15:47
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@Arjan SOIS stands for Stack Overflow Internet Services, Inc.: the company that runs Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange (see copyright notice at the bottom of every page). –  user149432 Dec 14 '10 at 15:53
    
@Mark Trapp: there used to be a third-party text reformatter of SO pages for 80-column text-only browsers, can't seem to find it now... –  Piskvor Dec 14 '10 at 15:58
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@balpha: Ah, thar she blows! Thank you. –  Piskvor Dec 14 '10 at 16:43
    
This does look like a premature April Fools Day prank, but is apparently genuine: in anticipation of IE9, Microsoft is now actively promoting a migration off IE6: ie6countdown.com –  Piskvor Mar 5 '11 at 11:52
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+1, hooray for #ie6countdown –  davidsleeps Mar 5 '11 at 13:24
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Because it sucks.

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Are you able to ask and answer questions? Then there is nothing keeping you from using ie6 on stackoverflow.

There may be problems with some of the JavaScript and rendering, but unless those prevent you from asking and answering questions then stack overflow internet services is unlikely to spend developer time supporting such an old browser. It's over 70 Internet-years old, and the comparison with the model t and today's cars is apt. You can still, btw, use the model t on modern roads, although not all of them, and you will find that you may have to adjust how you drive in order to use the roads, but you can still use them with this old car, just as you can still use stack overflow with ie6.

If you find that you cannot ask and answer questions (not including the markdown editor- that might not work) then post a specific bug report here, and if others agree that it prevents users from participating in the most basic site functionality, they may consider fixing it.

Up until a year ago I worked at a company that only used and supported ie6 and I found the site to be perfectly usable. Perhaps they've change the site significantly since then, and broken that support, but I honestly don't remember having problems asking, answering, voting, commenting, etc.

Regardless, a general rant like this is pointless. Post specific bug reports that are reproducible.

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The problems are serious enough to make using SO difficult. For example, blocks of code all show up on one line. Since it used to work, there's no reason it can't work. –  Gabe Mar 6 '11 at 5:54
    
@Gabe: "no reason": Dev time is limited, even for regressions. "Just take a quick look at this one tiny thing, it won't take you long, really" is probably the most common thing I hear. Also, I don't really see this complaint voiced in a Meta question (my search-fu must be weakening); and coming up with a reasonable, working patch would greatly increase the odds of your suggestion being implemented. –  Piskvor Mar 6 '11 at 10:35
    
@Gabe Have you posted that as a bug? –  Adam Davis Mar 6 '11 at 19:17
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10 years ago a browser was born.

Its name was Internet Explorer 6. Now that we’re in 2011, in an era of modern web standards, it’s time to say goodbye.

This website is dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than 1% worldwide, so more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers

http://ie6countdown.com/

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Well, MSFT has finally acknowledged that IE6 is Old and Broken; yaaaay. Pity I can't recoup the man-months I've spent hacking special rules for it. To quote Moz 11:9 : "Mammon awoke, and lo! it was naught but a follower." –  Piskvor Mar 6 '11 at 10:30
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I hope you have a system at home that lets you access http://careers.stackoverflow.com/ as it seems you need it!

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