Internet Explorer continues to slip

ctodx
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.

14 comment(s)
Robert Beaubien
Robert Beaubien

Thats good advice, but I think DevExpress is being short sighted by not supporting PDA browsers.  Something as simple as the ASPxButton doesn't work in IE on Windows Mobile 6.  

I am seeing a big uptick in people requesting mobile device compatible pages and I have to use the standard controls provided by Microsoft to provide ANY sort of compatiblity.

I have just upgraded to the new HTC Touch Diamond with Opera and will test DevEx controls with that, but I don't hold out much hope for that to work very well either.

Hopefully DevEx will fix this oversight in their ASPx controls.

29 September, 2008
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Robert: Good point. I'll check to see what our position is on that. I will note though that I much prefer to use Opera Mini on my AT&T Tilt, mobile IE is simply awful.

Cheers, Julian

29 September, 2008
Robert Teague_1
Robert Teague_1

Actually, I believe you are incorrect. Microsoft has shipped an open source library with Visual Studio for years - the Standard Template Library.

29 September, 2008
Robert Beaubien
Robert Beaubien

I just tested and Opera Mini on my HTC/ATT 8525 does not work with any DevEx ASPx controls.  They seem to display correctly in Opera, but they are just dead pictures, nothing I can click on.

29 September, 2008
Mike Katchourine
Mike Katchourine

I'm afraid these browser usage stats are terribly skewed to make some kind of a point.

Here's a much more objective look at things:

marketshare.hitslink.com/report.aspx

This is based on hosted network analysis with about 160 million users monthly, not one site stats. One site stats are bound to be affected by how well that particular site works with a certain browser, not true user preferences.

Overall based on all the stats I've seen IE is unfortunately still a clear market leader (70% of market and more).

The problem with that to me as far as DevExpress is concerned is lack of optimization for IE. IE 6/7 suffers from a weak and sluggish JavaScript engine, so when starting to use grid components heavily, especially with callbacks, IE based rendering suffers more than 50% penalty compared to Firefox and  Chrome.

Hopefully IE8 javascript engine is tuned enough that performance difference is not so glaring...

29 September, 2008
Robert Beaubien
Robert Beaubien

Amen Brother Mike!

29 September, 2008
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Mike: The problem is that *any* browser stats are skewed and are subjective. The stats from the link you gave are not the stats we see. The *only* stats that are objective are those for the web site you are developing or maintaining.

I'll take the point that the IE6/7 JavaScript engine is weak and slow. We do make some efforts to optimize for IE, but at what cost to the rest of ASP.NET development?

Cheers, Julian

29 September, 2008
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Robert: I've just spent 15 minutes using IE Mobile on my Tilt, giving myself eyestrain Wink and carpal tunnel syndrome and visiting as many ASP.NET sites as I could find. Let's say the ASP.NET story as a whole is not that great on a mobile device; it's not particularly just a DevExpress issue. I'll have to investigate what we can do to improve matters (I'm going to guess it's a JavaScript issue, though).

Cheers, Julian

29 September, 2008
IOANNIS MPOURKELIS
IOANNIS MPOURKELIS

Thanks for this nice article Julian.

Maybe we can put here some browser statistics so that we can get a good image of the percentages of each browser.

Based on our site statistics we have around:

63.5% Internet Explorer

27%    Firefox

In more detail from our site in Greece we have:

JAN 1 2008 - SEP 29 2008

32.8% Internet Explorer 6.0

30.4% Internet Explorer 7.0

5.9% FireFox 2.0.0.14

5.7% FireFox 3.0.1

4.8% FireFox 2.0.0.12

3% FireFox 2.0.0.16

3% FireFox 2.0.0.11

2% FireFox 2.0.0.13

1.5% FireFox 3.0

1% FireFox 2.0.0.15

0.8% Opera 9.25

0.6% Opera 9.50

0.5% Safari 525.17

0.4% Safari 525.13

0.3% FireFox 3.0.2

0.3% Internet Explorer 5.01

0.3% avant browser

......

0.2% FireFox 3.0.3

0.2% Safari 525.20.1

......

0.1% Internet Explorer 8.0

......

29 September, 2008
IOANNIS MPOURKELIS
IOANNIS MPOURKELIS

I would also like to add this about Vista vs XP from our site statistics

79.5% Windows XP

12.3% Windows Vista

29 September, 2008
Kevin McFarlane
Kevin McFarlane

I would guess that any techie-oriented site, such as Dev Express, is going to show greater alternative browser usage than, say, a consumer-oriented site, such as Amazon.

30 September, 2008
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)
Julian Bucknall (DevExpress)

Kevin: Which goes to my point -- general browser stats are interesting but ultimately worthless. You should monitor your own stats to see what your visitors are using and gear your site to them. Ioannis brings up another wrinkle as well: which OS are your visitors using? The greater the propensity for Windows, the less you have to worry about things like publishing Silverlight apps for example.

Cheers, Julian

30 September, 2008
Anonymous
lami...

It'll be nice if you guyz showed a lil more luv for Opera...

5 October, 2008
Robert Johnson
Robert Johnson

Does DevExpress work well with jQuery? Because so far I have not had much luck.

9 October, 2008

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