Monday, 23 April 2012
Preparing for MSIE Overtaking Day
It might have been true in the mid-2000s to manipulate the famous phrase about IBM to "nobody ever got fired for supporting MSIE". But as a quick look at StatCounter's Global Stats will tell you, over the last couple of years Google Chrome has come from nowhere and is rapidly converging on MSIE's market share. Extrapolate the graph forward a few months, and it becomes obvious that sometime this summer, probably in June, Chrome will overtake MSIE as the world's most popular browser.
That's right, June 2012 will see MSIE Overtaking Day.
You might think it would be unwise to break out the champagne though. After all, the top spot is just passing from one big company to another, won't it just be a case of "Here's the new boss, same as the old boss"? In that we're fortunate: unlike MSIE with its proprietary approach to rendering HTML, Chrome is a Webkit browser, underpinned by open source and web standards. So if we code to those standards we can expect it to work without too many tweaks on all browsers that support them.
But the title of this piece is "Preparing for MSIE Overtaking Day". We're already there, as developers we're used to coding web standards, all our sites already work in Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. It is the non-technical people who need preparing, all those marketing people at the customer, the legal people and the developer project managers who are stuck in that 2000-era trope. I was shocked not too long ago to encounter a site whose contract specified individual browser versions. Not even "version X and above", so when a legitimate bug was reported in a recent browser the response came back that it wasn't supported because the browser wasn't several years old. That kind of thinking is simply not acceptable.
So we have to think away from the browser in the post-MSIE world of frequently released standards-compliant browsers. We have to sell web standards such as HTM5 rather than support for particular browsers to the non-technical people we encounter as web developers, and we have to hammer home that message using the clearly visible statistics.
Otherwise we'll still be coding for MSIE7 in 2017 just like some of us had to support MSIE6 in 2010 And that just ain't funny, not at all.