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Dear Web User: Please Upgrade Your Browser


Shopping. Social networking. Emailing. Reading. Finding directions. Banking. Researching. Those are some of the most common tasks people perform on the World Wide Web. You’ve probably done all of these things yourself at some point. So if you’re like many people, you probably do these things every single week (and many of them even every day).

This blog you’re reading now, Smashing Magazine, normally publishes content that’s intended for graphic designers, Web designers, and Web developers of varying skill levels. But today, this article is for the rest of you—the non-programmers, the everyday Web users.

We at Smashing Magazine, along with designers and developers worldwide, want you to have the absolute best possible experience on the Web. In fact, in the design and development community, we spend countless hours every week discussing and researching the standards and practices that we know will make your experience on the Web infinitely greater.

But the browser you’re using could be limiting that potential. So please read on, so you can learn how to drastically improve your experience on the Web.

Your Browser Is Too Old Link

Everyone that accesses Web pages on a desktop computer uses a Web browser. Without a Web browser you cannot view or interact with websites. How do you personally access websites like Facebook and YouTube? You might commonly use the program that opens when you click the big blue “e” icon on your desktop. Here’s what it looks like:

Internet Explorer Browser Logo
This is the logo for Internet Explorer, a Web browser.

This “e” icon is not a shortcut to a generic “internet” or “Web” program. It is a shortcut to a Web browser made by Microsoft, called “Internet Explorer” (also referred to as “IE”). Over the past 17 years, this browser has been the most popular Web browser. At one time, it was arguably the best browser you could use. But that is not true anymore.

Internet Explorer is currently at version 9, and version 10 is supposed to be officially released some time this year. But most people are not using IE9—most Web users that use Microsoft’s browser are still using a less stable, insecure, slow version of IE (either IE8 or something older).

The truth is, even IE9 (which is a huge improvement over previous versions of Internet Explorer) is not as up-to-date as other browsers. So if you’re still using some version of Internet Explorer, we strongly recommend that you upgrade to a different browser. To help you upgrade, we have some options for you to consider.

But before we introduce those other browsers to you, let’s quickly cover some reasons why older browsers like IE7 and IE8 aren’t as good.

What’s Wrong With Old Browsers? Link

Old browsers (especially Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, and 8) are less stable, and much more vulnerable to viruses, spyware, malware, and other security issues. Those are obviously big problems to be concerned about—especially for people who shop online. So security alone is a very good reason to upgrade. But there’s more to it than that.

Old Browsers Are Slow and More Likely to Crash Link

Firstly, old browsers are very slow. Every Web page that loads in a browser has to perform a number of different tasks. One of those tasks is the process of loading different files. These files include images, programming scripts, and other resources that help improve the look and functionality of the website you’re visiting. Old browsers do not perform these tasks with the same speed as new browsers. This makes your experience on the Web considerably slow, and can sometimes cause your browser to crash or freeze.

IE8 not responding message
Browsers like IE8 will freeze and crash more often than newer browsers.

Old Browsers Can’t Display Many New Websites Link

The other problem that old browsers have is that their display capabilities are very limited. For example, in an older browser, in order to show a simple animation, the person creating the website would have to use either an embedded video or Flash file (like those found on YouTube) or else a lot of extra programming code (called JavaScript). In either case, this means that the page will take much longer to load, thus harming your experience on that website.

New browsers support new Web technologies (like HTML5 and CSS3). These languages serve as a foundation for many websites today, and for virtually all new websites and Web apps. But unfortunately, many of these new websites will neither look nor function in the same way in old browsers like IE8.

To demonstrate this problem, take a look at the two images below. These images are screenshots taken from an infographic Web page that covers Rainforest Deforestation1. The first image shows the page as it appears in IE8:

A Web page displayed in IE8
A Web page displayed in IE8.

Now look at the same page in a new browser like Chrome, or Firefox:

The same Web page displayed in Google Chrome
The same Web page displayed in Google Chrome.

IE8 has many problems on this page: Many of the graphical elements are not appearing, all the animations are missing, and even some of the text looks misaligned. This is caused by the fact that the page is built with new Web design technologies that old browsers like IE8 don’t support.

New Browser Options Link

Now that you understand why it’s highly recommended to upgrade an old browser, let’s take a look at what options you have for a new browser, and what strengths these browsers have. Please notice that switching to one of these browsers is free and won’t take more than a couple of minutes.

Google Chrome2
In May 2012, according to at least one statistics website, Google Chrome (all versions combined) became the most popular browser in the world (compared to IE, all versions combined). Chrome was first released in 2008, and has a number of advantages over old browsers like IE8.

Google Chrome Logo3

Mozilla Firefox4
Firefox has been the main competitor to Internet Explorer since the mid-2000’s. Although Google’s Chrome has become more popular in recent years, Firefox is a great browser with many advantages over old browsers.

Mozilla Firefox Logo5

Compared to other browsers, Opera isn’t used as much, but it has been around since the mid-90’s. Opera has always been at the forefront of browser innovation and supports many of the latest technologies and features that make websites faster and more feature-rich.

Opera Logo7

Apple’s Safari8
This is the same browser that’s commonly used on iPhones and iPads. Safari’s features are very similar to Google’s Chrome, and has been around since 2003.

Safari Logo9

Why Are New Browsers Better? Link

The browsers listed above have a number of advantages over older browsers, including:

  • Far fewer instances of crashing or freezing.
  • Much more secure from virus, malware, and browser hijacking attacks.
  • Much faster page-loading.
  • Larger page-viewing area.
  • A large variety of useful optional plugins and add-ons that add extra features to improve Web browsing.
  • Unlike IE9 and the upcoming IE10, they can be installed on Windows XP.
  • New browsers will automatically update to the latest version, or will notify you to download an update.

About Automatic Updating Link

The last point in the list above mentions the fact that new browsers will automatically notify you of an update—this is a good thing. When you have a browser that’s kept up-to-date automatically, you get a number of important benefits in addition to those already mentioned. These include:

  • You’ll rarely, if ever, come across a website that says “your browser cannot view this website”.
  • If any known security vulnerabilities are present, they will be fixed automatically.
  • Every time your browser is upgraded, your browser becomes faster, meaning that the time you spend waiting for pages to load will be minimal.

Old browsers like IE7 and IE8 will not automatically notify you to update, so if you continue to use an old browser, your experience on the Web will become less secure (and less enjoyable as the months go by).

Extensions and Add-Ons Link

As mentioned in the bullet list above, one of the features of new browsers is the ability to add extensions, plugins, and add-ons. The Chrome Web Store10 features hundreds of useful extensions, including:

Chrome Web Store14
Extensions in the Chrome Web Store

What about add-ons for Firefox15? Well, in addition to extensions similar to those mentioned above for Chrome, some popular and useful choices include:

  • Video DownloadHelper16, which lets you easily download and convert video, audio, and photos from YouTube and similar websites.
  • WOT—Safe Surfing17, which shows you which websites you can trust, based on millions of users’ experiences.
  • FastestFox18, which helps you save time and increase productivity by speeding up repetitive tasks inside the browser.

However, Chrome and Firefox are not the only new browsers that offer these types of extensions and add-ons. You can browse the extensions for Safari19 and for Opera20, if you choose one of those browsers instead.

“All My Bookmarks Are In Internet Explorer!” Link

Everyone has bookmarks (or “Favorites”, as they’re called in IE) in the browser they use regularly, and it’s a valid concern if you don’t want to switch because all of your bookmarks are in your old browser. But moving your bookmarks from the old browser to the new one is not difficult at all.

For instructions on how to transfer your bookmarks to your new browser, check out the Browsing Better21 website. When you visit the page, click on the icon for the browser you’re currently using, and follow the instructions from the images that appear.

Exporting Favourites in IE8
You can easily move your bookmarks from IE to your new browser.

“I Won’t Upgrade—I’m Happy With Internet Explorer!” Link

Even after everything you’ve read above, you might still have reservations about upgrading to a different browser. Well, there’s one final option you may consider. You can keep using Internet Explorer while getting a similar speed and viewing experience as found in Google Chrome by installing an add-on to Internet Explorer called Chrome Frame22.

Chrome Frame23
Chrome Frame makes Internet Explorer act like a modern browser.

Chrome Frame is an add-on that enables new Web technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 in Internet Explorer versions 6, 7, 8, and 9. As long as the Web page you’re viewing has a specific piece of code in it, you’ll get an experience very similar to Google Chrome—even when using an older version of Internet Explorer.

Installing Chrome Frame is fast, easy, and free. Chrome Frame is completely invisible and will not change anything about the way you access Web pages in Internet Explorer. But it will provide the same speed and viewing experience that Google’s Chrome browser has, without needing to switch browsers. (However, if you’re in a business environment, you might want to contact your system administrator before installing it because some legacy sites might not be displayed properly. — thanks for the note, Jochem Bokkers!)

What About Locked-Down Systems? Link

If you’re on a system at your place of employment where you’re not able to upgrade or download a new browser, Chrome Frame is a viable option. You don’t need any special administrator privileges to install Chrome Frame24, so you can keep using the same version of Internet Explorer, and almost instantly have a far superior browsing experience that’s identical to using the latest version of Google Chrome.

Conclusion Link

There are countless reasons to upgrade your old browser and start using something new and up-to-date. So trust us when we say that your experience on the Web will be infinitely better if you choose to do this.

Whatever you’re doing on the Web—reading email, shopping, banking, or anything else—a new browser will allow your experience to be safer, faster, and much more beautiful.


Footnotes Link

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Louis Lazaris is a freelance web developer and author based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs about front-end code on Impressive Webs and curates Web Tools Weekly, a weekly newsletter for front-end developers.

  1. 1

    Maxthon is worth mentioning:

    It’s currently top of the HTML5 charts:

  2. 5

    Pascale Vanbutsele

    July 10, 2012 3:32 pm

    As you asked in yesterday’s post, I’m going to tweet, yammer and email this article to all my work colleagues.
    When I talked to them about this issue, I was amazed to find how many didn’t know how to do an update or where to find an other browser. With your article I don’t have to explain it to every single person ! Thank you.

  3. 6

    I completely agree that if you are using old versions of IE, the time is nigh! Upgrade!

    But where I object to this article is that it comes across as a Jeremiad of sorts against Internet Explorer:

    “The truth is, even IE9 (which is a huge improvement over previous versions of Internet Explorer) is not as up-to-date as other browsers. So if you’re still using *some* version of Internet Explorer, we strongly recommend that you upgrade to a different browser. To help you upgrade, we have some options for you to consider.”

    I think it is fair to lament the still omnipresent use of IE versions that are 1, 2, and even 3 versions out of date, but I feel that the added comments condemning users of IE 9 (and IE in general) is on somewhat shakier intellectual and professional ground.

    Finally, an added note. I hope that users of Firefox 3 also take heed of the advice in this article. I know from my web stats that they are a non-negligible web demographic that (although waning) seems destined to never quite go away, but should for all of the exact same reasons you implore the IE7 using masses to upgrade!

    • 7

      Good point about FF 3.x.

      However, IE9 is still behind in tech and I can’t think of any good reason to choose IE9 over any of the other browsers mentioned in this article. It’s not a bad browser, but there is nothing great about it either. IE also gets upgraded only like every few years (aside from security patches), which means it is miles behind the faster moving competition at all times.

      • 8

        I would imagine that the decision to use IE9 is rarely based on any of the points mentioned in this article. Rather, it’s because it’s attached to the big “e” on the desktop!

  4. 9

    Great write up, Louis! This is an elegant and informative resource. I will be sharing this article and continuing to encourage others to upgrade their browsers.

  5. 10

    Much love for writing this article…. shared! :-)

    • 11

      Ok, I agree that IE7 is older and actually, my daughter has told me to stop using it and I use Firefox for normal web use. HOWEVER, being disabled, unfortunately, I have ALOT of time on my hands and have discovered different games on FB. Since Adobe upgraded it’s flash plug-in, certain games are pretty much unplayable on firefox! It’s just one crash after another. Jewel Journey, it is next to impossible it is so choppy along with several other games. On Castleville it just crashes upon crashes. I have discovered if before going to FB I switch over to IE7 and play on it. Yes, I do still have a crash but not nearly as much. I have gone to adobe’s and Microsofts stop the crashes pages but, i just don’t understand it. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated, just e-mail me!

      • 12

        Just do yourself a favor and try chrome (;
        You won’t be disappointed.

        Very nice article, nobody could have said it better.
        shared :)

  6. 13

    actual problem is awareness about term “browser”. layman generally don’t understand this term and they just see ‘e’ icon either on their desktop or on toolbar and they assume that that’s only way to access internet.
    more over internet explorer isn’t guiding their users for upgrading their browsers so that will be less hurdle for programmers to write code to force users to upgrade their browsers. problem can only end when IE explorer follows path of other browsers and use same technology stack.

  7. 14

    While I use Chrome in my personal time (and also at work if possible), I have to expose that in some cases using IE is a must… Some web-services are made to work good only in IE. For example some of e-banking systems in our country, or MS Sharepoint portals… those work best with IE or in some cases they don’t even work with other browsers.

    • 15

      Then the onus is on the designers/developers of those systems to stop designing/developing solely for IE, isn’t it?

      • 16

        a developer designing solely for IE is clueless, pay attention to the standards and stop blaming the old web for making your job more difficult.

  8. 17

    It beats me why Safari is in the list of alternatives? It lags behind Chrome, it’s damn slow on Windows (a lot slower than IE9) and it just tries to mimic what other browser vendors are doing. Upgrading from IE to Safari is the worst advise you could give anyone who’s hooked to his IE.

    Apart from that, graceful degradation is not something that will go away soon, not even with silent auto-updates, so many of the arguments given here feel as if they are actually due to poor web design rather than defective old browsers (the IE8 example). Sure enough people should abandon IE6 and 7, but anything above that is quite alright, with IE9 being a pretty decent browser and IE10 looking very promising indeed.

    Also, don’t forget that the “potential” of newer browsers is often not standardized yet and could make for a lot trouble in the near future.

    • 18

      Just to say that having recently acquired a Mac, Safari runs rings round both IE8 (which was on my old machine as standard, and Chrome (which was installed later). I’m not an Apple freak (there are things about the Mac which are infuriating), but I really think that Safari is a magnificent browser.

      • 19

        But this article isn’t about Mac users, unless they are still using IE5.5. Safari on Mac is a decent browser, Safari on Windows is a pile of unruly and slow-paced crap. And unless you’re asking IE users to buy a Mac rather than upgrade a piece of software, this is exactly the situation we are discussing here ;).

    • 20

      Also, look at this comparison:,safari+4

      That’s IE9’s features compared to Safari 4. Safari 4 was released in 2008/2009, and IE9 was released in 2011.

      The feature comparison is about the same, even though that version of Safari is now essentially obsolete and hardly anybody is using it. Yes, IE9 is probably faster, maybe more stable and secure, but CSS/HTML/DOM features are basically the same as in Safari 4, which is why I think Safari 5+ is a much better option than IE9.

      • 21

        No offense but how can you say that “I would rather everybody use Chrome and Firefox”. I mean this is exactly what started the problem with IE in the first place (only one viable choice at the time). In 10 years Chrome might be obsolete because some start-up created their own better browser but legacy websites do not support it. That is not progress.

        Also, upgrades for the browser will not fix the problem for websites that use -webkit,-moz or whatever. There is a reason they are not standardised yet and they can cause problems in the future. Some of them don’t even work the same way! Check border-radius for instance.

        Yes, let’s experiment, let’s make beautiful demos but do not ask users to use your choice of browser cause it’s ‘hip’. Let them use IE if they want, notify to upgrade when necessary but do not enforce a centralised browsing experience. It’s just wrong.


    • 22

      Personally, I didn’t want to include Safari (or Opera). I would rather everybody use Chrome and Firefox. But I wanted to be fair. Also, Safari will notify you of upgrades, whereas IE9 does not. That’s a big difference in my mind.

      When IE10 comes out, maybe IE9 users will be notified via Windows Update, but from the history of those types of updates, it rarely makes much of a difference.

  9. 23

    Thank you so much for publishing this.

  10. 24

    Thanks so much for writing this.

  11. 25

    I totally agree with you. It’s high time to let old browsers die peacefully. BUT why put the blame on Internet Users ? Most of the time they just don’t have the choice. I prefer graceful degradation.
    What’s your opinion about that ?

    • 26

      @Julien, blame is irrelevant in this conversation. The bottom line is a lot of people are still using old browsers and the way to collectively move forward is to convince them to upgrade.

      • 27

        @toby : You’re right but “I Won’t Upgrade—I’m Happy With Internet Explorer!” << Do you really hear this everyday?
        The fact that a lot of people have chrome and firefox at home but old IE versions at work.
        That's a point.

        • 28

          Have you ever worked IT? I know of a few users at my workplace that freak out at the slightest change. Most of them hated it when they tried to use Chrome because it was too “unfamiliar” and went back to IE.

          • 29

            For every one person afraid to move forward, there are 20 who appreciate understanding more about their choice. It’s worth educating people, and this article is a fine start.

          • 30

            There are a lot of people who just want their computers to work. They don’t want to have to retrain themselves every few weeks just to be able to do the same things they were doing just fine before.

            People like you and I like to use computers and learn new software, etc. We are in the minority. For most people, it is just a pointless chore.

            One of the most important software usability issues is making user interfaces stable so people can just get their tasks done.

          • 31

            Fringe of memory

            July 16, 2012 3:36 pm

            If they prefer IE6, then they have to blame themselves for the bad experience: to run an obsolete browser is not supposed to be a human right.

            The point here is: we, as web developers, must try to spread a new mindset. Browser manufacturer’s duty is to build standards-compliant browsers and developer’s duty is to code following standards. As web user it is my duty to upgrade if I want to have a decent experience. I cannot pretend to hold back the rest of the world, wasting people’s time and money, for my laziness. And if I am the system admin in a company it’s even more my duty to upgrade, ecc. This is the only reasonable distribution of duties. We cannot charge all of them on the developer, letting the rest of the crowd as responsibility-free stakeholders.

            We should support this action I’ve just discovered googling:

      • 32

        I designed only 5 websites so far in my new career. The biggest problem with outdated browsers is my customers blaming me when they are running IE 7, have never cleaned their cache, or have never even done a disc cleanup on their 2001 computer, somehow it’s all my fault in their eyes when they cannot see their “Flash” Web site from home.. Educate when you have the opportunity…thanks for a great read, I shared it with my network!

        • 33

          Without sounding harsh, it is your fault. You are building a website for the customers, not yourself or your peers. If your customers have IE7 then you should be building your websites with IE7 compatibility in mind.

          • 34

            Yes she is building site for her customer and not her self, but at the same time customer wants site that is responsive and good looking with lot of effects and latest HTML5 effects. You can’t have it all, main thing is to have good conversation at the start and clear defined expectations.

          • 35

            I don’t think it is her fault (entirely)… The website should not be built to taste/preferences of just the client.

            Every website should have a specific goal and be able to speak to the visitors of the site, not cater to the whims and archaic likes of the person paying for it.

            When I am faced with this same situation of a client using IE (6, 7, 8 or 9) I simply find the latest browser trends (all of which usually show IE falling behind) and combine that with hard data from Google Analytics to show my client why we design/code the way we do.

            I also will show them what they are “missing” as far as not seeing new CSS3 and other web goodies.

            That usually converts them to Firefox or Chrome users!

            All in all, we MUST still make sure that each site we design/code looks good and preforms well in ALL browsers!

          • 36

            To clarify. By “customer”, I was referring to the actual users of the website rather than the individual client.

            However, if Penny’s use of “customer” was referring to the client rather than the user base then my point still has some weight; It is highly unlikely that the customer base of a website built for a client who uses IE7 him/herself is going to follow the same trends that we see in the W3Schools browser statistics. These users are likely to be of the same demographic as Penny’s client. By the sounds of things very tech un-savvy and using older technology. In this case, in the consultation, if the client requests features that are only possible with HTML5 and CSS3 (which in my experience, there aren’t many things that can’t be achieved via non CSS3/HTML5 methods if you are prepared to put the work in) then they need to be informed that it is unwise because it will result in a lesser experience for the majority of the users and alternative solutions should be presented.

          • 37

            Thank you!! Some of us ‘older people’ think we are up-to-date and suddenly get told by our webmaster than they are really far behind! I have no idea how to keep up-to-date with the changes that seem to occur every hour!!!!

          • 38

            Thank you!! Some of us ‘older people’ think we are up-to-date and suddenly get told by our webmaster than they are really far behind! I have no idea how to keep up-to-date with the changes that seem to occur every hour!!!!

        • 39

          You should always set out minimum requirements with your clients and then personally check your work in the minimum required browsers to make sure they work. If the client then comes back and says it doesn’t look right in a browser that is lower than the minimum (Lets say IE6 when the minimum was IE7) you can point to the contract and let them know you met your end of the bargain and if they want it to look pixel perfect in IE6 it will cost more money.

          Where I work, we do this often and use tools like BrowserStack ( or virtual machines with older browsers.

    • 40

      This article is not for web designers/developers, it is for “normal” people :P

      • 41

        True… but it’s on a webdesigner/development blog.

        If this was on the national news or People magazine… we’d see some real change!

    • 42

      I use IE8 on windows 7. I looked at Chrome once. Not as ugly as firefox, but still ugly. The excuse of ‘simplicity’ doesn’t stand up; removing the ‘file’, ‘edit’, ‘view’ menus when most windows programs have them is not acceptable. IE8 has a download dialog box that I like; I can move it around and have some control over it. IE9 was another attempt at a minimalist mess. IE10 was better; IE11 breaks windows gadgets. But ever since IE9, microsoft introduced the ‘notification bar’, something I detest. Thats the main reason why I haven’t upgraded my browser. Now, if any programmer can make IE10 behave more like IE8, particularly in terms of the dialog box vs notification bar, I’ll upgrade. Until then I’m not changing. In that same way that I still use Word 2003, because they substiuted the menus and toolbars with a ribbon that leaves me unable to find anything I want. I used Word from version 2, I may be able to change, but I don’t want to, and I am not going to without compelling reasons! If one website doesn’t work, I’ll find another. My bank, ebay and Amazon know that by alienating IE8 users they will lose business. Other companies and websites should consider that.

      • 43

        This is the mentality we developers have to deal with. Pack rats and users that refuse to change and hold on to old, outdated software “because it still works”.

  12. 44

    Great idea, but I stopped reading when you started pimping your web design book to “non-programmers and everyday Web users” at the end of the first section, before you started to explain how they might actually address the problem. Remove the “side note” and it’s really useful. With it there the whole page looks cynical.

    • 45

      that’s just an innocent ad. if you stop reading because of ads, you might lose a lot of cool info, bro :)

    • 46

      Just an idea: Put a checkbox / remove button for the ad for those who have already bought the book or are not interested. Shouldn’t be that hard to do :)

    • 47

      So you or your clients don’t use any advertising on your/their websites? SMH.

  13. 48

    Believe me, I’m all for people upgrading their browsers. But I’ve worked in enough large corporate/government environments to know that’s not always a possibility. Many such organizations have very strict controls on what users can access and install on their systems, including sites that allow downloading of software.

    Analyses of usage stats that are compiled on an hour-by-hour basis consistently show that the peak period of old IE usage directly correlates with standard working hours in North America (10 AM ET – 4PM PT). On evenings and weekends in North America, third party browser and latest-flavor IE usage outperforms legacy IE usage.

    So instead of chanting the same “upgrade, upgrade, upgrade” mantra to Joe Webuser (who probably has already upgraded the browser on his computer at home), we need to get the enterprise and government establishments on board with upgrading their systems, or at least offering their personnel more browser choice.

    Additionally, we as web developers will need to keep developing for the old cruft out there. Yes, that really, really sucks, but no one ever said this job was easy. Also, by convincing our clients to accept techniques such as progressive enhancement, maybe we can at least free ourselves from the shackles of “this website has to look the same in every browser.” (See:

    I’m sorry, I’m just so tired of seeing articles like this that over-simplify the legacy browser issue and believe that by just telling people to upgrade their browsers, the problem will magically go away. It won’t.

    • 49

      There is still a good percentage of people out there who do use IE as their go-to browser, perhaps because they’re so accustomed to it at work. Yes we have to continue coding for these legacy browsers, but it’s a pain. ;)

    • 50

      @Tracy it’s about a shift in perception. If we can convince average users that old IE needs to go at home then it has a domino effect where people in decision making positions get asked the question “why are we still using an outdated browser here at work?” on a regular basis. How fast did Flash lose mindshare when Steve Jobs wrote his infamous letter? It’s astounding how fast things change when the right people say the right things.

    • 51

      Kevinjohn Gallagher

      July 10, 2012 9:58 pm

      “I’m just so tired of seeing articles like this that over-simplify the legacy browser issue and believe that by just telling people to upgrade their browsers, the problem will magically go away. It won’t.”

      THIS !

      (well said tracy)

    • 52

      Good point. I’d like to add that the typical enterprise excuse for not upgrading is kind of weak. “Our systems still depend on IE6”. So we’ll do nothing. Not upgrade browsers. Year after year of inaction.

      What’s the strategy here? The enterprise is going to have to face the upgrade anyway, clearly inaction will not solve it. I can understand that an enterprise is slow in this aspect, but it seems many are expecting the problem to dissapear automatically. It won’t. You need to make sure your enterprise systems are capable of being used in anything other than IE6. That requires action. Not inaction.

      • 53

        Answer honestly, do you work in enterprise?

        The fact that you really can’t understand the needs of enterprise, and the reason they move slowly on issues like this, makes me think you may not have any experience.

        • 54

          First of all, making insulting comments without knowing a thing about me or my context shows your inexperience, in having a basic conversation that is.

          And actually yes, I do work in enterprise. Always have, in Fortune 500 companies only. Where I work now we don’t have the IE6 problem, we have the IE8 problem. And I will stand by my words: it is silly to wait. The problem does not solve itself over time. If you’re stuck with systems that only work on IEx, you need to start upgrading/replacing those systems.

          Meanwhile, you can apply creative solutions: install a secondary browser, use ChromeTab, or use a VM. Bottom line: you don’t have to hold the entire enterprise back on a decent browsing experience because of a handful of legacy systems.

          Given your vast experience, I look forward to your superior solutions.

          • 55

            Something to consider is the proliferation of smartphones. People are doing more personal browsing with personal devices.

            Make a good mobile experience and you can sidestep the enterprise issue. IT is finding the silver lining in byod (bring your own device) culture where they no longer need to support employees personal browsing on company hardware. A mixed blessing but one filled with opportunity.

  14. 56

    i want to make stand for a small browser called Maxthon. I used it for the past 3 years and it’s really great. It has a great workflow and the customizatin is just great. Take a look.

    • 57

      I’ve used Maxthon in the past (long, long ago) and can understand why you like it, but sadly it’s IE-based. This alone is a good case to switch to something else.

      • 58

        I stand corrected — having looked into the new version, it turns out Maxthon uses Webkit by default. See

      • 59

        Oh good lord. IE alone is not a reason to quit. Old versions of IE – sure I get where you are coming from, but there has to be more basis to your argument than “sadly it’s IE based”. The new versions of IE are fantastic. Wish folks would stop bashing MS and just move on already.

        • 60

          Actually, IE alone is very much a reason to quit. Every version of IE (even 9) is outdated compared to Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera. It doesn’t mean they are unusable browsers, it just means there’s a wealth of better browsers out there, so why settle for the worst?

          None of this has anything to do with MS bashing. It’s IE bashing. I don’t hate MS, I hate IE.

          • 61

            Oh please, IE 9 and soon to be 10 is doing just fine and have plenty of advanced features. You’re judging it by your own standards. Oh it doesn’t support your fancy webkit-*** or moz-*** property. Well what a surprise!
            What about the lack of hardware accelerated animation? No? Nobody mentions that? You can only play your webkit demos on a fast computer to run smoothly?

            Look, multiple browsers are just fine, some are better than others in some areas, but you should support everything that your visitors are using. If you think you should notify them for an upgrade, great! But do not become so closed minded as to offer alternatives simply because you as a developer think it’s better.

            Further reading:

          • 62

            @Will. I can’t reply to you directly, the comment system does not allow for it.

            I didn’t say IE9 or IE10 is a bad browser. I’m saying two things:

            – Even if they’re good, the others are better
            – Even if they’re good, they don’t auto update, which means they won’t be any good soon

            And buzz of with calling every new web feature “gimmicks”, or “fancy”. These are very real improvement that help the web forward, both developers and users.

  15. 63

    I love this article but…

    Safari Last? Safari and Chrome are pretty much the same thing, the same engine powers them and they are both the best at supporting new features. Safari also has a larger market share than Opera even when you exclude iOS.

    If we just focus on rendering engines, (and I know why you left them out- this is for none techie’s) surely Webkit is the best, sorry Gecko and Presto – but I get less issues from Webkit and they support newer features faster.

    If you don’t but safari second, it should really be the third choice at least. Opera is nice enough but they have a lot of work to do especially with fonts and CSS3 – I personally wouldn’t recommend it at all.

    • 64

      Have you tried Safari on a Windows computer? Sure, on a Mac PC it’s great, but for Windows, it is slow, cumbersome, and just all around a bad idea. Chrome uses the same rendering engine and is much better, so I’m not even sure why Safari is even on the list….

  16. 65

    Upgrading your browser means to upgrade it to the latest version, you seem to be preaching to change to a different browser.

    • 66

      For a very good reason that’s already been highlighted in the previous post. Are you simply arguing over semantics or do you genuinely feel advising people to upgrade to a newer version of IE is the best course of action when trying to avoid browsers holding back the web?

  17. 67

    I believe changing your browser to a better one falls under the category of upgrading. Upgrade by definition means switching to a better one.

    Everyone seems to be so overprotective of Chrome, it’s uncanny. I use Chrome as well, but come on people, it’s not like it doesn’t have it’s flaws. In fact, I believe if Firefox could’ve kept up it would smash Chrome, hands down. But the speed Chrome has to offer is just unmatchable, but every other aspect? Not so much. If you guys are interested, check out this site, too, it’s right up your alley: without seeming to sound like a spammer, this is in fact useful :D

  18. 68

    Patrick Iverson

    July 10, 2012 5:06 pm

    Grateful for articulate articles like this. Will be sharing it often!

  19. 69

    If nobody used old version of IE, it would be too easy for web designers …

  20. 70

    This is my first message in Smash since i don’t remember how many years i have reading this website but i need to say something I’m a web developer and frontend developer and this article is part true and false as the past article because i have seen many people are googled.
    What i want to say is that people Say Install Google Chrome, IE doesn’t do this and that and doesn’t follow standard but let me say if you check i think from IE 5 (don’t remember exactly) you do what now is “Standard”, shadow, gradients, and many more than actual WEBBROWSER can’t still do. But as I say before people doesn’t now because when is compered to other browser the people doesn’t know how to code it and say doesn’t support.
    I think when someone write an article first need to check out what exactly a IE browser really can do and how can a webdeveloper code it.

    I use Mozilla and then sometimes IE because i need to check how it seen.

  21. 71

    This post is an exemplary example of why I support your site and service. Thank you for spreading the word to get users to upgrade. Hopefully once we get over this “IE7 IE8” period, auto upgrading browsers will push it into the future faster without having to support older browsers.

  22. 72

    I love that you took a steadfast approach in this article. Still, I find that your average “user” gets bogged down by choice. When faced with the decision between Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and more they can get easily overwhelmed and just avoid making a decision altogether. That’s why I usually give people just one choice, (typically Chrome). It makes it much easier for them to switch.

  23. 73

    moving from explorer to chrome, safari or firefox was like moving from dial-up to cable. I owe a lot to the people that built (and continue to perfect) the new browsers. I look forward to the day when explorer sits on the cultural shelf beside brick phones and analog television.

    maybe thats how we should visualize explorer users who call with issues…calling from a brick phone while watching analog television. :)

    • 74

      Kevinjohn Gallagher

      July 10, 2012 9:52 pm

      See that right there is the problem.
      We’ve condescendingly decided that anyone not using our browser of choice is some form of idiot thats stuck in the timewarp.

      We could say the same about people who dont’ like iPhones, or who use XP, or who drive cars that aren’t Ferrari’s…

      Some people like IE, and they are entitled to even if you don’t. But lets not talk negatively because they like something different to you – its incredibly childish.

      • 75

        It’s not OUR browser of choice. It’s ANY modern browser. It doesn’t matter if that is Chrome, Firefox or even IE9. The choice remains for the end-user. The problem is old browsers, not which brand of browser. And yes, everyone is entitled to using anything they want, but that doesn’t mean the whole web (both users and developers) would not be better of when ancient browsers leave the scene. It’s a goal worth aiming for. It will make websites better, faster and more responsive when executed properly. How is that a bad thing?

      • 76

        whoops! to all those who choose to use dial-up, the brick phone or watch analog tv, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you. It is your right to choose that gear if you wish. I’m sorry for even posting.

  24. 77

    While I agree, mostly with this article, I do have to say that calling browsers above IE9 as more “up to date” than IE9 is really false. At this point, HTML5, CSS 3 and related technologies are NOT standards yet. As such, they are able to change (look at CSS 3 gradients for instance), and by holding off to wait and get what at least looks to be the final version, MS is doing us all a favor. MS is in line with current standards and is up to date on such. By playing a waiting game they are avoiding the issues that many of us hated IE 6 for.

    Oh, and I agree with a few others, Safari would be a downgrade on a PC. If you are going to switch, go to Chrome, Firefox or Opera.

  25. 78

    Releasing html5 and css3 was like opening Pandoras Box, so many web pages didn’t work anymore, just look at this one in IE8 – terrible; and there is no reason for it, no new technoligy, just a blog. With html5 and css3 and responsive layouts you have to put in more than double work, With IE6 they called it hacks, now it is translated into Progressive Enhancements. And the coders have given up, the new Foundation 3 don’t support IE8. Now everyone is telling people – it is not us, it is you, you are using a wrong browser. Give it up. Most people are using IE, live with it, do your codeing better. There are some websites for showing what will come and a warning is in place. Every page showing new stuff should have Browser Support Icons at the top of the page, also if it is yet unknown.

    • 79

      “Most people are using IE, live with it, do your codeing better”

      Except most people AREN’T using IE (old versions) any more. Chrome, Firefox and Safari (not to mention mobile browsers) make up the vast majority of users.

      When you then look further and realise mobile/device browsers (AKA HTML5/CSS capable browsers) are such a huge percentage it now MORE important to support those technologies than those in ie8.

      As with all things context is massively inportant so if you are making a site which will cater to an intranet with mostly ie8 users then well.. sucks to be you!

  26. 80

    Safari over IE9? This article is far below the usual high standards here and is nothing more than proselytism and does not belong on this site.

    We can get “fanboi” ramblings anywhere, some of us come here for the “adult” level of conversation.

    • 81

      Safari notifies users of upgrades through iTunes. IE9 does not give any notifications of upgrades. That’s reason enough to put Safari ahead of IE9, since that means IE9 will essentially be obsolete without notification. The only hope is that IE9 users will get notified through Windows Update, but as we’ve seen in the past with IE6-8, those upgrades rarely make any difference.

  27. 82

    I don’t always sync, but when I do I use Xmarks allows IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari to sync bookmarks. It’s really helpful to jump back and forth between browsers.

    Great post btw.

  28. 83

    While I do agree with this article, let’s not forgot that a large part of the internet users are browsing from a work environnement and that they usually have poor or no control at all on their web browser.

    In my opinion this discussion really depends on your targeted audience.

    In a perfect world, everyone would be running the latest version of the latest and best browser, but that is not the case. Henceforth graceful degradation is primordial.

  29. 84

    Please. Don’t recommend Safari to Windows users. It’s buggy and slow as hell on Windows. It takes away from the credibility of this article.

  30. 85

    Dear Louis & Smashing Magazine

    While I totally agree awareness should be raised about browser upgrades and their importance, I find it disappointing to read the article quoting “We at Smashing Magazine, along with designers and developers worldwide, want you to have the absolute best possible experience on the Web” and then resulting to opinionated information and one-sided reasoning as to why it is important. Or better said, it feels a bit like Microsoft bashing.

    As a technical PM with a passion for clientside-coding and a background in server-side development I know the ropes and have all the major browsers installed and use them in a varied way. As pointed out on Twitter, while upgrades are important, lets give novice users an honest and unbiased choice.

    First of all, Internet Explorer 10 will hit RTM in August and will be generally available in October this year – not next year.

    IE9 is perfectly up-to-date in terms of HTML5 & CSS3 support. There are some vendor specific not standardized features it doesn’t support that other browsers do, but that in no terms means its less stable, insecure or slow (although not specifically written, it is implied). And those shiny new features which are lacking are almost all vendor-prefixed still. (vendor prefixes or polyfills are both hacks and extra work as in yesterdays plentyful comments)

    Who cares what’s the most popular browser in the world ? But if you’re sporting Chrome, please make sure the math’s correct (
    Chrome combined: 29,12% vs IE combined: 32,89%.

    Firefox, more specifically v3.x is sporting the same upgrade problem as IE7 & IE8 and counts for a bigger market share than IE7. Yet while browser upgrades are advocated in terms of speed and stability, current releases of Firefox are totally the opposite. It’s by far the slowest loading browser and the least stable of them all. Novice users leave browser windows open for hours and I dare you to do the same on a window machine and watch what happens.

    Since we’re taking an opinionated stand, outside of the laboratory and just every day heavy usage of browsers, although Chrome is my personal favorite – I tend to say Internet Explorer 9 renders faster on average.

    Although constant updates are looked upon as just a bliss, they also cause instability. What works today, might not work tomorrow. And while experienced users can deal with certain glitches, for novice users stability is a key factor.

    Security fixes are addressed, also in IE8, IE9 and IE10 although they go through Windows Update and not Internet Explorer updates. And while that may dismiss the ‘automatic update’ definition, Firefox, Safari and Opera are all permission based updates which also can be easily ignored.

    As for Google Chrome Frame and I quote

    “Does Google Chrome Frame handle the display of all websites when I install it?
    No, only sites that explicitly opt-in to using it will take advantage of its capabilities.”

    If I install Google Chrome Frame will it break any websites I use?
    No, Google Chrome Frame only kicks in when a website explicitly requests it. When visiting websites that aren’t Google Chrome Frame enabled, your browsing experience remains completely unchanged.

    So before we encourage everyone to jump onto the Google Frame bandwagon, lets please keep in mind that many legacy browsers are in an enterprise environment and require legacy functionality.

    Chrome frame either kicks in on only a few ‘enabled’ sites, or will be active by default breaking the legacy required sites. With that in mind can we please add a “If you’re in a business environment, please contact your system administrator before installing google frame disclaimer”

    • 86

      Thanks for writing down everything I was thinking while reading this article!

    • 87

      Hi Jochem. Thanks for your thoughts. Here are my responses:

      1) When I said IE10 would be released “in the next year”, that doesn’t mean “next year (2013)”, that means “within the next 12 months”, because I was only estimating since there didn’t seem to be any definite timeline stated anywhere by Microsoft. Do you have a reference showing the date of release? I’ll see about changing the wording of that as I suppose more people may be confused by it.

      2) I never said IE9 was slower, etc. If you felt it was implied, then you’re reading more into it than is necessary. The main reason I don’t like IE9 is because, although it is a fast and safe browser, it’s going to be obsolete in a year, and then we’re back to square one because it doesn’t auto-update. Also, it doesn’t install on Windows XP, which is a huge factor.

      3) Vendor prefixes are not even close to being the same as polyfills or hacks. If you use a CSS preprocessor, most of the vendor prefix problems are essentially non-issues.

      4) My math on the May browser stats is correct. You’re looking at the wrong chart. Here’s the correct one, that combines all versions:

      5) Firefox 3.6 is at 1.55% (as of June 2012) and dropping. That’s very little. Of course, some people may notice higher numbers for their own stats, but generally speaking, FF 3.6 is basically at the same level as IE7. NetApplications has it lower than StatCounter, and StatOwl has all FF versions in the 3x series at a combined under 4%. That’s pretty low, and they’re all decreasing with each month. Meanwhile, StatOwl has IE7 at 7%.

      6) Permission-based updates are not ideal; but they’re miles ahead of what Microsoft has done with IE6-9.

      7) Your last two statements about Chrome Frame are contradictory. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying. You said “When visiting websites that aren’t Google Chrome Frame enabled, your browsing experience remains completely unchanged.” But then you said “Chrome frame either kicks in on only a few ‘enabled’ sites, or will be active by default breaking the legacy required sites.” Obviously one of those statements is wrong, and I believe it’s the 2nd one. Legacy apps will not have the required meta tag to enable Chrome Frame, so Chrome Frame should not break anything. Maybe you can clarify if I’ve missed something here.

      Thanks again.

      • 88

        Hey Louis,

        Thanks for the reply.
        Microsoft recently confirmed that Windows 8 RTM will be first week of August and general availability will be October. With IE10 being part of Windows 8, we should see it also be available in October

        The choice of words (perhaps because I’m Dutch, so a non English native speaker) combined with the previous wording of ‘in the next year’ instead of in 3 months implies (to me at least) that its not a valid option.

        Of course vendor-prefixes are not the same as poly-fills, but the both fall under the category ‘deviating from the standard’. And that’s where the average novice user falls under, they don’t care about a shiny drop-shadow or a css gradient background. In a year we won’t have the same problem with IE9 as we currently have with IE6 or IE7, because IE9 supports the standardized HTML5 and CSS3 standard. It’s not build on a legacy standard, it’s built on the current standard.

        As to the math in the stats: yes, Chrome has a bigger browser share when compared to the top 5 browsers. Thank god IE6 & IE7 are not in the top 5 anymore. Just grabbing the top 5 and avoiding the browsers the whole argument is about just fuels to the impression that this call-to-action is opinionated and not factual and unbiased.

        Like I said, just because something is popular isn’t a reason why the late majority should upgrade, and this is certainly not an argument to drag into the boardroom.

        Again an opinion doesn’t make a valid argument. Internet Explorer gets updated when security holes get discovered. Novice users like simplicity and when your operating system allows you a functionality to auto-update all security fixes for their OS and their browser at the same time, that’s a pretty neat experience.

        It certainly beats Firefox help>>about and then spot a hotfix or Safari constantly trying to install more than just the latest update. When the novice user opens a browser, they want to use it instantly, most don’t have the patience to click ‘yes’ to install the update and then having to wait a few minutes to have it installed.

        With regards to Chrome Frame, the quotes came from the FAQ. Basically stating there are two options, either have it always render with Chrome Frame, or only use Chrome Frame when the proper meta tag is invoked.

        So when everything is rendered with Chrome’s engine, the legacy apps will break. If policy is set to only be activated when the meta tag is present on a site, this still won’t solve the initial ‘everyone must upgrade’ call because there are millions of html5 sites which don’t use the tag (hint your deforestation website sample).

        Like I said before, while I truly appreciate the effort and call-to-action for people to upgrade, I feel the document is lacking the facts and motivation to truly encourage people to upgrade. That’s why I’m nitpicking. First you’re scaring them away from Internet Explorer and end up just listing the A-grades, leaving them with no clue as to where to go next, nor warn them about the ‘danger’ of switching.


        • 89

          – Vendor prefixes don’t deviate from the standard, nor are they hacks. They are a standardized way to implement experimental features. You can argue that they’re ugly, to which I agree, but that problem becomes manageable with a preprocessor. Are they useful? I’d say yes. I’ve been using them and relying on them for a few years already.

          – You suggest users don’t care about fancy gradients, rounded corners, shadows and all that. Perhaps you’re right. Strange though that before CSS3 almost every web page in the world tried to mimic that look using images or tons of divs. I guess somebody does care.

          – Regarding IE10’s release date: it’s besides the point when it will be released. The problem is older browsers and browsers not auto-updating. IE10 solves none of those problems.

          – Regarding the FF3.x issue: two wrongs don’t make a right. If FF3.x has users stuck on them, it’s the same problem. That does not make the IE problem smaller. It’s not a contest.

        • 90

          Hi Jochem,

          I’m an engineer on the Chrome Frame team.

          What you note about the two default modes, while true, is misleading. The default is NOT to render all content, and it required special registry configuration to change it. Administrators who do this are usually using the “opt out” list in conjunction with changing the default when making a policy decision that allows them to *keep their legacy sites running* while opting *all other* sites into GCF.

          As far as we know, this is both uncommon and only something savvy administrators do. Chrome Frame is designed to never break content, but we do give administrators the power to determine what that means in the context of their organizations.

          Hope that clears up your confusion.



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