The Life, Times (and Death?) of Internet Explorer 6 (Comic Strip)


In recent years Internet Explorer 6 has become the browser web designers love to hate. Security issues, JavaScript errors and inexplicable CSS rendering quirks have made it the brunt of many jokes. With IE6 in its twilight and big companies like Google dropping support1, it seems like a good time to take a fond look back at our old foe. In this post we’re looking at what Internet Explorer 6 used to be and why its image changed over the years. You can also see the comic in a larger version2.

Do we need to review our projects in Internet Explorer 6? Can we stop supporting IE6? If not, how do we handle those users who are still using IE6? And if yes, how can we prompt IE6 users to upgrade? Or how do we convince those who don’t allow their employees to get rid of the legacy browser to upgrade? What do you think? We are looking forward to your opinions in the comments to this post!

Part 13

Part 24

Part 35

Part 46


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Brad Colbow is a web designer living and working in Cleveland Ohio (USA). He is also the creator of the weekly web comic "The Brads" about two web designers trying to start a small company. You can follow him on twitter here.

  1. 1

    There are so many blogs publishing visceral articles about “it”, this insightful and rational comic is pretty refreshing. I also like how it doesn’t bring down the holy hammer of Judgment on the poor IE6 users. (writing that using Opera 10.10)

  2. 102

    Did I miss something? “Release in 2001 IE6…”, then in the next pane “Throughout the 90’s Netscape and IE6 fought for market share.” Otherwise great, but I can’t seem to get past that; have a feeling I’m just missing something though.

  3. 304

    It’s a shame when politics leak into such a great blog. I may have been in hibernation, but I was under the impression that jokes about our President were so played out that anyone with any class or couth would keep their opinions to themselves at this point unless they were engaged in a relevant conversation and asked for their take on such a topic. I think sticking to design would be a better choice in the future. Politics are messy and nobody wants to see that crap when they come to a site that’s a fun to read as this. If I wanted to read Bush-bashing I’d go to Sure, it’s cartoon, but let’s grow up a little guys. Thanks for letting me put in my 2 cents ;) Have a good one!

  4. 405

    Good work on IE6’s comic strip, Brad, U r good illustration artist, Thanks for this affort

  5. 506

    I dont know what the big deal about IE6 is. I use it all the time and everything always looks fine to me.

    • 607

      Mostly because most of us develop a 2nd css file for all the websites especially for IE6. However, have fun living in the past. CSS3 will not be available for you.

    • 708

      Just don’t let Raf fool you …

      But he has a good point: Most of the people using IE6 will think “Hey, everything looks fine. Why should I upgrade to another browser?” Well, many of these people won`t even know what IE6 or a browser is … So everything has two sides. One one side it`s the achievement of us webdesigners, that so many sites are still usable in older browsers – which is a good thing. But on the other side, like I said before, why should people upgrade when everything looks fine? And that’s a very bad thing. It’s a damn vicious circle!

  6. 809

    I dont know but I just find IE to be easy to design for. I do it in tables an avoid styles sheet because it can cause ie 6 to look pretty bad… so im fine with ie6 is what i mean.

    • 910

      What are you planning to do when the next version of HTML comes out? Tables will be entirely removed.

  7. 1011

    ie6 really has to die.

    Come on, lets not preserve its already expired life any longer.

  8. 1112

    Nice way to explain to non-techy people about IE6, many thanks

  9. 1213

    What TEH? I like the old fafebook better. How do I login to my farmville? !!!!!111

  10. 1314

    Yeah, gee golly, it sure is nice to have Bush out of office huh! Obama has done us a solid by replacing that chart with a new, multi-purpose one with exactly the opposite curve and a new name: The Inflation–National-Debt–Broken-Promises Chart!

    Yesss! I love stagflation and interest on a national debt that is soon going to exceed our entire yearly GDP! You Demz sure iz smartz!

  11. 1415

    Nice comic and very well explained the history of facts :)

  12. 1516

    16% of my company’s website visitors so far this year use IE6 so I’ve got no choice other than to support it. I don’t like it, it makes things trickier, but if you design with it in mind from the very beginning it’s not hard to deal with. You’ve just got to know how to code and let the site degrade nicely for lesser browsers if you choose to add any kind of advanced design or functionality.

    I read a comment from Adam S above who said that if you don’t agree that it’s a web designers’ nightmare then you’re not a very good designer. I take exception to that as I disagree and would like to think that I’m at least a little bit better than ‘not a very good designer’. As I said, you have to design with it in mind. If you go all out adding loads of CSS2 and CSS3 to everything then you’re not considering your users – that’s what makes you ‘not a very good’ designer. Usability and content are more important than design every time, I’m afraid to say.

    People use IE6. People will continue to use IE6. I don’t and I don’t know why people with a choice do, but they do and we have to work with it. As many other people have said (though mainly about the political aspect of the comic) “get over it”, and consider your users, not yourselves.

  13. 1617

    Thanks Brad for a very classy way to express the growing dissonance between designers and IE6. Another well-done comic. Bravo!

  14. 1718

    Bush joke. Super topical.

  15. 1819

    @Ed… i like your way to spend time on internet, answering every comment that you like or not… i mean… it’s a comic… i can’t see the anti-ie argument and other crap you say. Please don’t answer. I really dont’ care.

  16. 1920

    I’m currently using the ie6update javascript on some of my websites. I hope this will help getting rid of this oldie !

  17. 2021

    You lost me and all my respect when you took your little political turn about.

    Score One for “Smashing Magazine” Brand Damage.

    Editors — You should be very careful with your management of the Smashing brand. Until today we had a great perception of Smashing in our studio.

    Now the brand just feels ‘dirty.’

    Clicking on the Smashing Daily Bookmark will never be the same experience.

  18. 2122

    I’m all for developing across all browsers, but IE6 is like dragging a dead horse around. It’s time not only for developers, but Microsoft, to actively engage users to upgrade to the current version. One of my favorite dev-side approaches at this is from If you’re in IE6, they have a great javascript pop-up that explains why IE6 is bad and how to upgrade.

  19. 2223

    see ya ie6!!! that browser has casued me many painful discussions with clients

  20. 2324

    First off, very entertaining!

    Secondly, why can’t all history books be written like this? It’d make history much more fun, and would probably benefit me a lot. Haha

    I personally thought the Bush joke added some individuality to the post and found it humorous just because it was a clever way to add some “bigger picture” to the timeline of when all this IE6 IE7 stuff was happening.

  21. 2526

    Screw Internet Explorer in general. Fin.

  22. 2627

    so is the stubble on the little “e” supposed to be his beard or his pubes?

  23. 2728

    Brad, nice way to educate people. Love it.

  24. 2829

    Why does the guy telling the story have a tag-nut at the bottom of his head?

  25. 2930

    Burn IE6 burn!

  26. 3031

    IE6 and Bush jokes. Yawn. Don’t we have anything better to do? If anyone who’s reading SM is using IE6, it’s because they can’t upgrade, not because they want to use IE6 or don’t know any better.

  27. 3132

    One “comic” strip drawing related question,
    is IE’s hair a beard or his pubic hair? :p

  28. 3233

    IE6 is already dead. We all must forget about it and let it go… to hell!!! Otherwise, it will stay here in earth… like a poltergeist …. forever…..

  29. 3334

    wow its andy clarke lol ..this comic amazing…
    dont know what other saying but this is good man…..
    im not designing for IE6 , I force them to upgrade their browsers

  30. 3435

    Gr8 comic mate. This question has been a major issue with all web designers, from should you have hacks to disclaimers on best viewed on claims.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t give the non-techie reasons to upgrade to firefox or opera. @Tai, i wouldn’t send this to my clients because you’ll probably have to spend more time explaining the comic than why IE6 sucks!

    Maybe we can look forward to MS providing Firefox and Chrome options with the newer releases of Windows.

  31. 3536

    Tomorrow we’re launching a new business, selling jewelry online. We’ve had to drastically change our initial design based on the results of our tests on IE6.

    Why bother? Because we’re in Japan, where IE utterly dominates the market, and where IE6 still “enjoys” a more than 50% market share. The first two users in your diagrams are the reason for the apparent popularity of IE6: Japanese corporations can’t be bothered to upgrade, and many Japanese home users don’t care about the software they use.

    You can’t design away from IE6 in Japan, end of story.

  32. 3637

    Wow, excellent work mate, thanks very much.

    @Smashing Mag: you are not saying “Die IE6, die”? Well, I’ll say it on your behalf looool

  33. 3738

    It’s funny. I see so many people here bashing ie6. The comic does a good job but i mean really, Without ie would any of you designers even have a job today. Ie pretty much opened up the internet. Mostly all your users were once on some version of ie and windows.

    Interestingly, on a recent site i designed, there were the standard workarounds for ie7, 6 and 5 and one for opera 9 and firefox 2

    My point is all browsers suck in some way. All of them. Whining and complaining about 1 particular browser… you’re just lazy, over paid. How can you call yourself a designer/developer.

    You’re getting paid to DO A JOB.

    The nerve of some of you guys. If I was a one of your clients i would sue.

  34. 3839

    Great post, but your jab at Pres. Bush is as comical as this little IE6 tale of yours. Checked Obamski’s approval lately? Greatest first year drop in the history of the US, chachi. Tact is knowing when to keep your personal politics to yourself…

  35. 3940

    I thought this was a really relaxed way of explaining the whole fiasco that was IE6. Bring on more articles like this. It’s informative, funny in the right parts and lots of room for further topics.

  36. 4041

    I don’t develop for IE 6 anymore. In tech dog years, it was my great grand parents browser. I do (however) look at my clients analytics to see how prevalent IE6 users are on their sites. So far, it has been around 12% or less. IE8 has quickly become the top choice lately in the IE category. A line has to be drawn in the sand. I applaud 37 signals for targeting the majority of their users, versus watering their experience down for the minority.

    • 4142


      you are definitely right on how you go about it. in the end, regardless of argument, it all comes down to your audience. if your demographic doesn’t use IE, then dont worry about designing for it. checking the analytics is a great case by case strategy!

  37. 4243

    In my company we’ve pretty much stopped supporting IE6 as standard now. Only for special requests (usually public sector clients in the UK) and we’re starting to charge for it. This has obviously ruffled a few feathers, but it has also made clients consider the implications of operating such old technology. We’ve also had some successes in helping smaller clients upgrade or start using Firefox or Chrome.

  38. 4344

    Nice work. Really I enjoyed reading. :)

  39. 4445

    I really enjoyed reading that! I’ve currently got a javascript feature on my site that tells the user that they have to upgrade if they are using IE6 – I really don’t know why a lot of companies don’t upgrade – it’s very annoying!!!!!!!

  40. 4546

    We took the cue from 37Signals (at my ‘corporate’ workplace where I manage all the Web sites) and I laid out the cost-benefit/ROI analysis for what would be required to support IE6 for another year or two vs. abandoning support for it specifically, focusing on the benefits of forward-compatible design and implementation. If we behaved like an eight-year old company, we would be viewed as one. I got no push-back.

    Companies are wasting staff time and precious resources supporting technology that is more than EIGHT YEARS OLD. In Internet time, that’s outrageous. Although many of our Web visitors (large government organizations, educational institutions) still use IE6 (about 25%), I made a strong case for letting them just deal with it. We’re moving FORWARD, with or without them. We’re lucky, however, in that we don’t rely on these particular users for revenue, and the real reason they haven’t upgraded is that they’re organizationally lazy. Not a good enough justification for us to spend extra money now (and later) to give them a perfect Web site experience when the majority of our users–and revenue base–have a faster adaptation rate to new technology. We must be out in FRONT of change rather than lagging behind.

  41. 4647

    I add about $30% to the project if a client wants a web page optimized for IE6. Most now don’t. In fact in the last year the Silicon Valley start-ups that I worked for said don’t bother coding for IE6 – so at least for those kinds of clients things are moving in the right direction.

  42. 4748

    good-bye IE6, we will miss you…

  43. 4849

    This comic was unduly kind to IE6. It should have had had a panel with IE6 eating babies, or kicking a puppy. IE6 provides so much comedic material and I feel it was under utilized.

  44. 4950

    From the times of Mosaic to the actual “Browser Wars”… the story of IE6 is just one of many. I liked it, back then … in the ancient times of table-layouts ;) It was pretty fast, though.
    Still, it’s pain in the a** for designers. I need more time for making a site looking good in IE6 and my customers have to pay for my time. And if these are companies, as they usually are, they have to get their money from their customers. Maybe a clever economy-student figures out one day, how much national economic damage IE6 causes today.

    By the way, I like the comic. Thank you very much, Brad!

  45. 5051

    IE6 is a default browser of Windows-XP operating system. Till many users are using windows-xp OS. So IE6 will dead while dead win-xp os as my point of view

  46. 5152

    We will say the same things about IE7 and IE8 in two years. Microsoft has to be release an updateable browser like FF. IE6 is biggest fail of the software history!

  47. 5253


    Not funny at all, what’s the point of making a comic of it is it has no emotional relief?

  48. 5354

    I work in a b2b industry serving over 100 corporate e-commerce sites. There is a huge percentage of clients that still use IE6. While we will make sure that IE6 users can still use the site functionally, we no longer guarantee a consistent layout/design for them. It just doesn’t make sense to support an outdated and vulnerable browser. I’ve convinces a few companies to make the switch. If you’re in the industry and in a position to convince someone about updating their browsers, do it.

  49. 5455

    Excellent comic ;)

    I do not optimize sites for IE6 anymore…
    Instead I have script that warn users to upgrade their browser, or to use some other browser.

    So… die ie6, die ;)

  50. 5556

    I still need IE because for some reason the wma files only play right with IE and not in Firefox even with plugins.

    but..i love Opera.


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