With seemingly little fanfare, IE8 went "gold" last week. This got me thinking. Mainly about whether it means it's now time to upgrade from IE6 to IE7. For me personally that is, rather than for the whole web (I'm sure we all agree it's time for demise of IE6). Should I upgrade IE on my main development PC though, that is the question?
Here's my setup at the moment (click for full size):
I think I've got most browsers and versions covered and available for testing at any point. What's the problem then? Well, I just want to always have the lowest common denominators as the browsers I work with on my main PC (XP on the laptop and screen on the right). Design for the lowest browser and you're almost guaranteed it will work in the others. I echo Andrew Tetlaw's sentiments about supporting IE6.
Now, I know most of you don't like IE (nor do I as much as when IE 6 first came at) but, let's face facts, The Business likes Microsoft and IE is Microsoft, so they use it. As developers that means we're obliged to care.
The problem isn't so much that The Business likes IE it's that they're slow to adopt newer versions. Roughly speaking about 3 of my 5 big, repeat customers are still using IE6. That's why I have to continue to develop for it.
With some clients we've agreed that systems I develop will support A-Grade browsers, as defined by the Yahoo! Graded Browser Support, which now included IE 6, 7 and 8. IE being the only one with more that two versions on there are the same time. Surely it's time they dropped IE6.
What I might do is start trying to convince customers (some of who also have customers of their own which, in turn, use systems I've developed) to drop support for IE6.
In the mean time I need to decide whether to update my laptop to IE7 and shift IE6 to one of Win2000 virtual machines I use to run servers on the right-hand Mac mini. It's tempting but something is making me hold back.
Funny, I was just checking my logs. Still have 40% of the traffic coming from IE6, down from 60% back in Jan 2008. My problem is it's not coming down any more as a great part of this traffic is coming from devices with embedded XP versions that can not have IE upgraded. I'll have to support IE6 for a while.
Check out xenocode.com - They offer a free web plugin for browsers that allows you to run all the different browsers on your machine in a separate window. I think you'll like it
You do need to make a choice in what you support for your customers, but you do not have to make a choice in what you install on your development machine. You can run IE5,6,7,8 on a single machine without a virtual machine.
I'm pretty sure I have to keep supporting IE6 at least until IBM certifies iNotes to work with IE7. Then I'm just going to go ahead and upgrade to IE8, becuase of the IE7-compatibility mode that's present.
But Ferdy's right -- there's tools like IETester (http://www.my-debugbar.com/wiki/IETester/HomePage) that are supposed to work pretty good for testing multiple versions of IE on one computer.
Forgot to mention this. I've blogged about Microsoft making virtual images for VPC available for free for testing purposes with IE6, 7 and 8.
For dev purposes, you can "install" IE6 down to IE3 (if you're feeling sadistic) from here: http://tredosoft.com/Multiple_IE
A couple of gotcha's though - it'll run happily in an XP32 VM if all you've got is Vista or XP64 as it doesn't work on those platforms. It's also not being maintained so there won't be support for IE7 to be installed standalone when you're running IE8.
Forgot to mention that IE's conditional comments work across the different versions (IE5+) so WYSIWYWGIYWUACB (...would get if you were using a c****y browser)
Backwards compatibility is always an issue - and even worse - my customer is so large, the upgrade "cycle" to IE7 will take over 12 months (how the enterprise support gets away with this I will never know). I also have to expect that external users on their own personal machines will start to buy new Vista PCs and be forced to use IE8.
It almost makes the days of IE4 and NS4 seem simple...
Now, it could be me being nieve, but the only two 6 letter words I can think of starting with C and ending in Y is Cheeky, or maybe Clumsy but then why would use use stars for that... ?
Go-on Chris .. give us a clue