With the launch of Windows 10, we saw the launch of Edge (version 12 to be specific), Microsoft’s newest browser iteration. To no one’s surprise, this was followed by a recent announcement of end of support for Internet Explorer any older than 11.
What does this mean for you? Well that depends.
I have a Mac
You’re unaffected by this, but while we’re talking about it, your OS updates are free. If you’re running anything between Snow Leopard and El Capitan, you can run El Capitan. Upgrade and get your new version of Safari with it.
I have Windows XP
Nothing has changed for you. Microsoft still doesn’t support your operating system or your browsers and you should really consider upgrading to Windows 10.
I have Windows Vista
The latest IE you can run is 9, which will no longer get support. That being said, your OS isn’t supported either, so you should also really consider upgrading your OS.
I have Windows 7
You can run IE11, which will still be receiving support. Running Windows Update should ensure you’re good to go. Your OS, however, stopped receiving support in January 2015 unless you’re some kind of enterprise hot shot, so you should consider upgrading. Going to Windows 10 is actually free for you.
I have Windows 8
If you’re running the 8.1 update, you have IE11, which will still be supported, so just keep installing updates. If you’re running vanilla 8, run Windows Update to get everything ship-shape. Of course, a Windows 1o update is also free for you, so consider doing that.
I have Windows 10
As you were.
Does this mean everything will be perfect now?
Nope! Browsers will always have subtle differences in support, but Microsoft tends to lag behind. For example, a recent trend is to take grayscale images and add color to them based on some browser event, like hovering. See below:
The best way to do this (rather than loading two separate images) is to use CSS filters. These filters are supported in the latest versions of most browsers, but even Edge 12 will only do this if you’re turned on experimental features in the settings (which your customers most likely haven’t). The good news is that support is coming in Edge 13, and on other browsers, it’ll just always be a color image.
This is just one example, and the differences are becoming smaller and smaller, but they’re still there. The recommendation from people in the industry will almost always be to start using a browser like Firefox or Chrome (even Opera, if you want something lightweight).
How Does This Affect Your Policies?
At Webspec, we want your site to be something you can show off, making use of the latest technologies and reflecting modern design. This is a moving target, but we try to strike a balance between modern and evergreen. This will always mean that browsers lacking the bells and whistles aren’t going to look quite the same as more modern browsers.
That being said, Microsoft’s policy will be reflected in our own. We’ll continue to include shivs, shims and polyfills for some of the most basic stuff in our sites, but if you find something amiss with your site in IE <11, we’ll have to get your okay on additional billing before we begin debugging it. As before, if for some reason you require support for an older version of IE (or Safari for that matter, the latest being 9), tell us up front and we can keep it in mind, but it’ll be reflected in your proposed budget.
Original Post from January 16, 2014
The Internet is evolving every day, from design trends to software capabilities, and here at Webspec Design, we pride ourselves on keeping up with the pack, if not leading it. The same cannot be guaranteed, however, for the software on your personal computer or those of your customers.
The current version of Google Chrome is 31, with 32 in beta and 33 in development. New builds are available nightly. Internet Explorer is currently at 11, Firefox is on 26 and Safari hit 7 in December. In a perfect world, everyone would use one browser with the latest updates, but that isn’t really where we live. Among personal computers, Chrome has the lion’s share of the market, but in the business world upgrading networks of computers is costly and they’re often behind the rest of the world.
This means that worst-case-scenario, your customer is trying to view your site on a desktop running Windows XP and Netscape. That’s a problem.
Fortunately, this is a fringe case, and the industry can take a good laugh at how far we’ve come. As a company, we officially support back to Internet Explorer 8, since it’s the latest Windows XP will run, and Windows XP still has a massive foothold in the business world. The latest Internet Explorer and all other major browsers automatically update, so we don’t have to set out guidelines for our support on those.
All this before we’ve even considered mobile devices and tablets!
IE8 and Windows XP: Not as secure as you think
It’s a tough spot. Many businesses are under the false pretense that IE8 and XP are somehow more secure than other browsers and operating systems, but security holes are perpetually being discovered and pretty soon no one will be fixing them. Regardless, they choose not to upgrade. So what are we to do?
Some online storefronts have charged customers more if they are shopping with an outdated browser due to the associated costs of developing for such things. Others simply ignore outdated browsers, wipe the screen, and display a message to the effect of “Sorry, the browser you are using is not currently supported.”
We don’t go quite that far, though there are several of us around here pushing for it. Instead, we do what we can to make your site functional in IE8. Maybe the background is a solid color, maybe the videos are straight embeds and maybe there are a few animations on your site that are…well…not animating. Your customer should still be able to find the information they need; it just might not be as fancy or modern as you originally thought it would be.
And that’s okay! You’re not the only one doing it. Every website is playing by these rules; I promise that even Amazon.com is behaving a little differently on older browsers. So don’t be alarmed if you bring up your preview page in Internet Explorer 8 and something looks a little funny or broken. Let us know if something seems glaring and is a non-negotiable, but we might not be able to do anything about it.
An IE8 target audience could cost you
Of course, building such things is time-consuming and, ultimately, costly for you, so there are times when something that could make your site hip and happening has been ditched from the design altogether because it simply couldn’t be created in Internet Explorer 8, at least not in a way that is cost-effective for our clients. As much as we want to be user-friendly across all platforms, sometimes older browsers just pose too much of a challenge for even the most talented programmers.
The advances in browser technology that outdated software lack make for slicker, faster sites, shorter development times and lower development costs, and your flashy, modern site will attract more customers. That’s the long and short of it. If you want to support IE8, that’s fine. Maybe your target audience is running Windows XP, and we can do that for you, but it’s going to directly impact the design and functionality of the site. As long as we have identified a target audience and come up with a functional design that will work on IE8 and everyone is on the same page, there is nothing that says we can’t create a successful finished product that you’ll be happy with.
On the other hand, if you want to tell us to target the latest browsers and let it fly, well, we can do that, too. You’ll end up with a site that looks modern, is user-friendly and accessible and one that you won’t have to update again in a couple of years when those browsers stopped being supported completely.