Internet Explorer 6, all over again

Chrexplorer 6In the period 2001-2005, Internet Explorer 6 was the most popular web browser around. Even the colourful plastic Apple Macs had their own Internet Explorer version as the default web browser.

Internet Explorer 6 was introduced with the new Microsoft Windows XP (which most of us had installed as the Devils 0wn “sneak preview”.)

The first web responsive* web applications were made around this time. And many applications were specifically written for IE6. This was mostly because the support of XMLHttpRequest (see AJAX). Since version 5, XMLHttpRequest had been a part of Internet Explorer and with version 6 the support had grown up to be fairly reliable. Other browsers had their different implementations of this technology too, but most people used and developed with Internet Explorer, so yes, the developers were lazy.

So as I see it, this one huge reason why Internet Explorer became so big. At the time, there were not really any competition. Netscape Communicator that was closest but it had just been up bought by AOL and been transformed to an ad possessed monster, with massive memory consumption issues. The success of IE6 was of course also helped that Microsoft shipped it as the default browser in Windows XP.

But happiness if brief

In the end of the last decade, Internet Explorer had been swiftly overtaken by new generations of web browsers like: Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and Safari to name a few. Internet Explorer had made many enemies mostly among developers and web designers. And for it’s users; Internet Explorer had become a personal ad-toolbar repository.

So how did this happen?
When developing web applications and web pages, Internet Explorer had to be treated as the “special-kid”. With it’s own exception code and CSS-hacks in order to work around its handicaps. While the other web browsers worked (most of the time) with the same CSS/Javascript and HTML.

The web designers struggled with Internet Explorer since it didn’t have support for transparent PNG-files until version 8 (2009)  and even that support was pretty bad. (Try change the opacity on a PNG image and you will see what I mean.)

For personal web project it was easy to disregard the support for the ancient Internet Explorer 6. But for web applications that met a larger audience,  you still had to support IE6. Most larger business and institutions were still jailed to Internet Explorer 6, since their old Intranet applications didn’t work with anything else.

Many web developing companies used  to add a separate clause in their contracts. That if the project required Internet Explorer 6 support, it would also cost 20% extra in development costs. (Tears and frustration included).


Thankfully most of the web applications that were made in early 2000 has been upgraded. And the support for he older versions of Internet Explorer is not needed any more, even the newer versions of Internet Explorer plays along fine today.

There absolutely a myriad of things that is happening in the field of web development today. Especially on the front-end side.But the implementations in the different web browsers are starting to stray away from each other.

For instance there are many HTML5 and WebGL apps that only runs on Google Chrome. Since I’m using Linux most of my days I’m a bit pissed off that Adobe stopped supporting their Flash player for Linux. What we’re left with is a bug filled memory hogging plug-in, that most people would be wise to un-install. How ever Adobe has been working together with Chrome to implement Flash support in Linux, but only Chrome’s “Google version”, not the open sourced Chromium.

The latest news I read about Google and Adobe is that they’re planning to stream a Photoshop app via Chrome.

This is of course exciting, but in my eyes, Chrome starts to become a lot what Internet Explorer 6 was. “The preferred” browser and Exclusive functionality. I hope that every web developer and designer won’t repeat the same mistakes that was made 15 years ago and continue to support the majority of modern web browsers. The web is and should be a multi platform, accessible for as many as possible.

Personally I wish people would grow more aware about Google. It’s not the creative, innovative, loving start-up company we used to know.

  • It’s a billion dollar business.
  • Its business is you and what you do on-line.
  • And Google Chrome is just one of its tools.
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