Internet Explorer continues to slip

29 September 2008

Last week, I was chatting to a friend who'd posted in his journal that IE6 -- yes, 6 -- had 32% of the browser market. To me that figure seemed way too high (a third of all surfers are using IE6? We're in deep trouble, guys) and I asked him where he'd got it. It turns out that he'd quoted the IE6 share for 2007 from this wikipedia page (look for the sub-heading "Market share by year and version" about half way down). Both he and I then checked our own stats to find out that IE6 over the past month or so had roughly 15% browser share. To me that still seems high, but then again it takes all sorts; I'm a Firefox user through and through.

The interesting point we both noticed was that IE, as a whole, had less than 50% browser share, with Firefox being at roughly the same spot. I could even report that nearly 5% of the visitors to my site were using Chrome.

The point here is that, if you are targeting the Internet with your web application rather than just a closed environment like a company intranet, you can no longer assume that the majority of your visitors will be using Internet Explorer. In fact, I would go even further: you should be actively monitoring your web stats to see what people are using, both in terms of OS and browser, and making sure that the vast majority of your visitors get a good experience no matter what combination they're using. Losing potential customers because they happen to be using Firefox rather than IE is a short-sighted tactic indeed.

Tim Anderson reports today that the jQuery site looks scrambled to him in IE7 (it doesn't for me), but this goes to show that the main game in the browser town these days is not only HTML/CSS rendering but also JavaScript compatibility. If you've only just logged on and are wondering what's so special about jQuery, both Nokia and Microsoft announced Friday that it would become part and parcel of their web application platform. Yes, you'll be getting the open source jQuery library with your Visual Studio, the first time Microsoft will ship an open source library with its offerings (I remember the arguments way back when about including NUnit with Visual Studio, so this is a momentous occasion).

Of course, we at DevExpress have been making sure for a very long time that our JavaScript doesn't just work in IE. We recognized early on that we had to support more than the one browser with our controls and libraries and we continue to make sure that we support IE, Firefox, Safari and now Chrome. You can rely on us and our controls to make your website as compatible as it can be.

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