YouTube to Drop Support for IE6

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IE6 is binned by GoogleNow I hope I don’t upset anyone, but we need to face the inevitable. IE6 — a browser we’ve all learned to love — won’t be around forever. It’s survived longer than any of us could have expected and it still has a larger market share than Chrome, Safari, and Opera combined. Whilst some smaller web sites have dropped support for the 8 year-old browser, none of the bigger companies dared cut off a fifth of their users. Until now.

YouTube, the Google-owned video sharing web site, is phasing out IE6 support. YouTube is one of the largest and most popular web sites on the net, so this action could have a massive impact on user numbers.

IE5.5 and IE6 visitors to YouTube are now confronted with the following message and helpful IE8, Firefox and Chrome download links:

We will be phasing out support for your browser soonclick to view full size

Google have also added a Chrome download link in the sidebar when you visit with IE7, IE8, Firefox, Safari, Opera or any other browser. This idea was recently suggested on SitePoint to help increase Chrome’s popularity.

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There is some evidence that IE usage has dropped within the past month, although the new releases of Firefox and Safari are partially responsible for that shift. However, the YouTube announcement could certainly persuade many private IE6 users to upgrade their browser. xBox360

Unfortunately, YouTube is not heavily used within the corporate sector. The current economic climate and legacy IE6 applications have prevented many businesses upgrading their browsers. We can only hope that more businesses either update their applications or adopt Windows 7 so they can run IE6 in XP mode when necessary.

Finally, there are rumors that Digg are on the verge of dropping the browser. The hard-hitters have had enough — is this the beginning of the end for IE6?

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  • graphicmist

    Good… this will be the first step which will lead to death of IE6..

  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    I can’t wait. Every single time I design a page and have to fix IE6 specific issues, I go through my web stats and try to convince myself I can ignore IE6 without losing sales. And I still end up forcing myself to make the IE6 specific stylesheet, because the percentage is still too large.

  • dougoftheabaci

    God I hope so… I dropped IE6 support on my projects on my last few projects. At this point if clients want it they have to pay for it as a feature.

    Most of the time they don’t want to bother. (The current website I’m working on only has 0.5% of it’s users using IE6.)

  • dhl

    I’d never thought of making clients pay if they want IE6 support but it makes perfect sense. Thanks dougoftheabaci!

  • LFA

    The problem has always been the lack of competition on a larger scale. Now finaly, Google has enough muscle to make a real impact on the browser market, because 1. they are in controle of services that many people use (e.g. YouTube), and 2. because they can offer a good alternative to other browsers.
    Up until now the only good arguments for switching browser has been CSS-support, JavaScript engines and other similar things that the avrage user doesn’t give a rodents behind about, because we have always supplied them with solutions. But now, Google can supply users with a solution that isn’t a IE6-stylesheet, but a good browser.

  • Tommy Carlier

    When designing the website of one of our product suites, I didn’t drop support for IE6 entirely, but I did add a nice pastel yellow “suggestion box” between the header and the content that suggests IE6-users to upgrade to a modern browser.

  • fproof

    Two months ago we’ve launched a new version of one of our clients largest websites (7000 UV’s/day) and with clients permission we decided to drop IE6 support so we could build better UI’s. At that time still 12% of the users were browsing with IE6.
    Now two months later, the result is rather pleasing. While the content of the site didn’t change, the average number of visitors has gone up. The improved design and layout definitely take most credits for this, but the point is that we hardly notice any negative impact of no longer supporting IE6.

    I expect many sites to take the same decision in the next months, introducing the long awaited end of IE6. Man, feels good to see this finally happen.

  • http://www.cemerson.co.uk Stormrider

    The really good bit will be when IE7 fades away as well, IE8 is as good as the other browsers now.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @fproof
    That’s interesting. But would your visitor numbers have increased even more if you had implemented IE6 support? It’s impossible to tell.

    On digg, they have double-digit IE6 usage but only 1% of IE6 users actively participate in diggs and discussions.

    Dropping IE6 support is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Clients and users never blame the browser — they blame the site. Google have good marketing reasons to kill IE6 but, realistically, YouTube is likely to support IE6 for some time to come.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @Stormrider
    I agree. IE7 has many of IE6’s quirks and can even be more problematical because many hacks don’t work.

    Fortunately, IE8 growth is diminishing IE7’s market share. Looking at the trends, IE6, IE7 and IE8 will have similar usage figures (round 15% each) within a couple of months!

  • fproof

    @Craig

    You’re right, we can’t tell if UV’s would have increased more when IE6 would have been supported. The thing is that you need to consider many aspects before you make the decision. Our client and us had a very neat layout and interface in mind that would definitely improve user experience a lot. The extra time/cost to make it compatible with IE6 was estimated at 15%, meaning deadline and budget could not be respected. So we either had to build a light version of the UI, or drop IE6 support. We chose the latter.

    In the end all our client wanted to see was rising numbers, which is already the fact, and which should even be more noticable when IE6 fades out even more. ;-)

  • nachenko

    Where others see a problem, i see an opportunity.

    I see an opportunity to charge extra for IE6 support.

  • Stevie D

    It depends what you mean by “dropping support”. If they are saying that new features and modifications will not take IE6 into consideration, and so some aspects of the site may or may not work properly, that’s fair enough – and if the basics of watching a video clip still work, I don’t think it will make a lot of difference.

    If they are going to make an active change that destroys existing IE6 compatibility, that seems like a pointlessly spiteful and retrograde step, and I can’t see the point of it.

    But how much difference will it really make? In the thread “Designing for IE” (http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=626505) there is a breakdown of why people still use IE6 – 70% of them are using a work computer, so the chances are that they won’t be watching YouTube all that much.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    Yes, this could all be marketing spin. There’s no reason why YouTube cannot continue to work in IE6 now and well into the future. It’s possible they’re developing radical new features that will not work in IE6, but I can’t see why basic video playing would be stopped.

  • http://www.j9consultants.com jef2904

    Good now tell me when they drop ie7…….

  • SiberianHuskey

    This is the beginning of the end for IE6. As YouTube phases is out, you’ll start to see others phasing it out, and I believe the reason for this is the dawn of IE8 which there can only be room for two Microsoft browsers and one has to go bubbye :)

    Within the next second part of the year you’ll really see a drop in IE6 support and more pages giving the same notification as YouTube. 2010 will see a drastic drop in support for IE6 IMO.

  • http://www.optimalworks.net/ Craig Buckler

    @SiberianHuskey
    I hope you’re right, but I’m not so sure.

    IE7 usage will certainly drop because people have no reason not to upgrade to IE8. But big corporations and public authorities still have legacy applications that need IE6. Why should they upgrade those apps and perhaps thousands of user desktops? It’s especially unlikely in the current economic climate?

  • badg0003

    When I think of the client-base where I work, a large percentage of them are still using IE6. Are they going to stop because of YouTube no longer supporting them? Probably not. Why? Most, if not all of these clients, are using IE6 because that is the supported browser for their corporation’s intranet, so until their intranet is upgraded, chances of them using a newer browser are pretty slim. It will eventually happen, but I don’t expect to be completely rid of IE6, at least from my standpoint, until early 2011.

  • SpacePhoenix

    There are probably enough rival sites to Youtube that if they stopped it from working with ie6 altogether then people who use ie6 for whatever reason will just move to them rival sites.

  • Alan Hogan

    For a one-pop solution to help old browser users upgreade, consider pushuptheweb.com.

  • AJ

    Friggin’ finally. The most non-compliant browser aside from IE 5 shall finally die….

  • http://www.fastliondesign.com FastLionDesign

    IE6 should go extinct the same way analog TV has in the United States.

    The government and TV industry told Americans, in so many ways,”Upgrade to digital TV or lose your ability to watch TV. Tough luck.”

    This was accompanied by the most amazing advertising campaign I’ve ever seen. Every time I turned around there was an ad somewhere telling us to upgrade our TV (if we don’t have cable TV). It was a “tough love” campaign all the way (though the government coupons for $40 helped).

    The same kind of tough love campaign should be done for IE6: “Upgrade or lose it. Tough luck.” I’m not a fan of big government, but I would be okay with the government assisting small businesses who would struggle with this change.

  • SiberianHuskey

    I like Push up: Pushing up the web, I think I may add it.

    The government and TV industry told Americans, in so many ways,”Upgrade to digital TV or lose your ability to watch TV. Tough luck.”

    I believe there was more to the this then they are letting on, for example blocking out those who can’t upgrade by financial means leaving them in the dark and making them more acceptable to whatever comes there way because they can’t educate them-self. That is not to say that Television is a way to educate yourself, it has got more pathetic over the past decade then when I was younger and I’m not considered old, yet. I can’t imagine how people sit in front of there Television and watch reality shows or American Idol, it’s brainless crap, they don’t even make good sitcoms anymore it’s all reality. Well I’ve gone a little off topic but I’m made my point.

  • The Peregrine

    It’s good that IE6 is being marginalized, in part because IE7 and IE8 implemented pretty significant improvements. Microsoft has done is best to force IE7 and IE8 on its own users, too, through Windows Updates. The people holding onto IE6 most vigorously are corporate and government IT folks, from what I can tell, and that’s likely because Microsoft certification was one of their hiring criteria so they developed Microsoft-specific apps. Now they’re afraid they’ll go the way of COBOL programmers …

    Within reason, I think we should be tolerant of whatever browser users choose. I don’t want to “push up the web” by annoying people with a pop-up when they visit, but I strongly favor the Web Standards Project and its efforts to let people know how important it is for browsers to render according to the standards. Standards compliance, graceful degradation and progressive enhancement make the Web better for everyone, and Microsoft’s foot-dragging has held us back for too long.

    I do also think it’s a good idea to charge extra to build in IE6 compatibility, since it’s more work — unless you only build for IE6, which was probably Microsoft’s expectation at one time. The browser wars are over. Let the standards wars begin!

  • The Peregrine

    It’s good that IE6 is being marginalized, in part because IE7 and IE8 implemented pretty significant improvements. Microsoft has done its best to force IE7 and IE8 on its own users, too, through Windows Updates. The people holding onto IE6 most vigorously are corporate and government IT folks, from what I can tell, and that’s likely because Microsoft certification was one of their hiring criteria so they developed Microsoft-specific apps. Now they’re afraid they’ll go the way of COBOL programmers …

    Within reason, I think we should be tolerant of whatever browser users choose. I don’t want to “push up the web” by annoying people with a pop-up when they visit, but I strongly favor the Web Standards Project and its efforts to let people know how important it is for browsers to render according to the standards. Standards compliance, graceful degradation and progressive enhancement make the Web better for everyone, and Microsoft’s foot-dragging has held us back for too long.

    I do also think it’s a good idea to charge extra to build in IE6 compatibility, since it’s more work — unless you only build for IE6, which was probably Microsoft’s expectation at one time. The browser wars are over. Let the standards wars begin!

  • SiberianHuskey

    It’s good that IE6 is being marginalized, in part because IE7 and IE8 implemented pretty significant improvements. Microsoft has done its best to force IE7 and IE8 on its own users, too, through Windows Updates. The people holding onto IE6 most vigorously are corporate and government IT folks, from what I can tell, and that’s likely because Microsoft certification was one of their hiring criteria so they developed Microsoft-specific apps. Now they’re afraid they’ll go the way of COBOL programmers …

    Good statement, I agree.

    Within reason, I think we should be tolerant of whatever browser users choose. I don’t want to “push up the web” by annoying people with a pop-up when they visit, but I strongly favor the Web Standards Project and its efforts to let people know how important it is for browsers to render according to the standards. Standards compliance, graceful degradation and progressive enhancement make the Web better for everyone, and Microsoft’s foot-dragging has held us back for too long.

    You made me rethink using “push up the web”. I think if a page renders close to identical to that in browsers like FF except in IE6, they must know some knowledge of web dev and have taken the time to get there page to work in IE6 should be acknowledged.

  • http://www.cemerson.co.uk Stormrider

    I don’t really think it’s fair to say Microsoft are ‘foot-dragging’. As you say, they are doing their best to push people onto IE7 and IE8 via Windows Update, campaigns etc. Don’t forget that all 3 of these browsers had the best standards support of any browser at the time of their release (Well, at least IE6 and IE8 did, but IE7 was an important step nonetheless).

  • Anonymousia de Bergerac-Fleur

    @Stormrider: No it didn’t – it did not have (and still does not have) support for all the W3C recommended MIME types.

    It does not have proper support for XHTML for example.

    As for IE6 – it was NOT the best at the time – even Netscape Communicator 4.61 adhered to better standards compliance then that!

    The rendering in IE6 is crappy and never able to render simple HTML correctly without some serious IE6-specific hacks.

    I’m so glad Youtube decided to eventually end support for IE6

  • Anonymous

    I own a AS3 web tutorial website, and I still get 5% IE6 visitors. I want to know who in the heck is programming in AS3, and is still sticking to IE6. I wouldn’t mind kicking a few teeth out. You might as well be browsing the website on your iPhone, at least it would be more secure.

    Anyways, they have been blocked from using the website for almost a month now. They have to go else where for their web tutorials or use a different browser.

    If we still have developers using IE6, then we really need to push people to drop IE6 hard. I am no longer supporting IE6 for any website I program for now on, and it will cost equal to PHP and MySQL programming hours to work on IE6.

    Drop IE6, if it means less features and a warning on every page, or completely blocking them from the site, we need to push this hard.

  • http://www.thecreativesheep.ca SiberianHuskey

    It will take another 1.5 years before IE6 goes down the drain.