Microsoft recently announced that they were dropping support for Windows XP, after 12 years. In turn, they were leaving behind Internet Explorer 8. Web developers rejoice!
For those who may not be familiar, Internet Explorer is now up to version 11. The last significant update to IE8 was in 2010, so we’re really looking at a 4 year disparity in features and support for current web technologies. With the advent of HTML5 and CSS3, we’re able to make our websites more fun, more interactive and more accessible. IE8 restricted how many of these features we could implement into our sites, as we didn’t want to leave behind (what were essentially) legacy users due to lack of support. So we found ourselves in limbo, between modern progressive technologies, and support for an outdated, inefficient, insecure browser.
However, that has all changed now. Microsoft are telling their Windows users that it’s time to move on. They no longer recognise XP and it’s components as a current technology and as such, you should upgrade your machines and software. Microsoft want you to have a more modern, exciting experience but in turn, they have helped the web development community by essentially forcing people to move on to systems that will support our new technologies.
As a side note, you can visit html5test.com to see where your current browser stands in terms of support for new web.
Security is another issue regarding older versions of Internet Explorer, now that support has been abandoned. IE was subject to regular security patches up until last month and since this has stopped, a major vulnerability has appeared. This has been patched for IE9 & up, but XP is still sitting vulnerable and will do forevermore…another reason to move away.
In terms of market share, Internet Explorer is pretty low in the list, with Google Chrome having a mammoth chunk of the world wide web’s traffic flowing through it’s browser. In particular, IE8 and below now account for less than 2.5% of overall users. Roughly speaking, you’re looking at over 90% of the web are now using devices and software capable of HTML5 support in some capacity. It simply doesn’t make sense to sacrifice features for the majority, in compensation for support of a tiny minority. This is something i’ve advocated for a considerable period of time and I feel even stronger about it now that Microsoft have abandoned ship.
This is not to say that any sites we build won’t be optimised as much as possible for older browsers, but the reality is an increasing number of features will not work on legacy systems. It’s time to embrace the new technologies and update your systems to see websites as the designers and developers intended.