Google has announced that it will no longer support Microsoft Internet Explorer version 6 in it's online applications. For web designers, this is great news. It has been the bane of our existence since it was released in 2001.
You see, the problem is that when you design a website, it can look different on different browsers. So you need to test it on all the browsers that you know of so that you can be sure that it will look the same (or similar) regardless of what software your visitors are using. To make this easier, the W3C organisation developed a set of standards to use when designing websites. The idea is that if you follow these standards, your website should look identical in every browser.
However, Microsoft decided to completely ignore all of these standards when creating IE6, even though they were a member of the W3C and had a major part in designing the standards.
Since version 6, Microsoft have released versions 7 and 8, which are much better, although even the latest version makes Internet Explorer STILL the least compliant browser available. Despite these later releases, many people are still using Internet Explorer version 6, which means that as web designers, we still have to test all of our websites for this browser too.
There has been a worldwide campaign to stop people using this browser so that we can write better websites easier. Some web designers have unilaterally stopped supporting IE6 and do not test with it. So, if a visitor to their websites is using it, they are likely to see a very broken website.
That just isn't good enough in our opinion. 6-7% of web users still use IE6. Can you afford to lose 6-7% of your customers because you can't be bothered to make your website work for their software? We don't think so. So we still test all of our websites in IE6.
However, Google have now dropped support for IE6. For such a major company to do this means that people still using this software are likely to see a major part of the web experience, stop working. Or at least, stop working as well as it did before. This is a significant encouragement for people to upgrade their browser to the latest version if they are using the outdated and horrid software.
If you are still using Internet Explorer 6, I would encourage you to upgrade. Firstly, because the internet is about to get a lot worse for you, and secondly, the less testing us web designers need to do, the better value our services can be. I know of at least one web design company who charges double if a client wants their website tested to work in IE6.
And once we have IE6 resigned to history, we can work on eliminating versions 7 and 8 too :-)