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The Smashing Book #5

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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

Footnotes Link

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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

    I’d like about 120 minutes of my life back.

  2. 23

    This is great! Finally I have a way to explain IE6 to non-techies. I will just forward this link.
    @ Brad I used to follow your strip. Good to see you are back, I really like your work. You should, if you haven’t already, publish a book. I would buy one!

  3. 24

    Nice comic strip. I wish IE6 will be history for webdesigners in about a year. Even MS stops support for ie6 in their new server products like e.g. Sharepoint 2010.

  4. 25

    I like this site a lot and come here everyday during work to get some inspiration…but that was plain boring. Sorry!

    • 26

      Are you kidding me, Chorts? :) I found it funny and clever – nice work, Brad, nice to see the comic here, at Smashing Magazine!

  5. 27

    Basically the coolest comic strip ever.

  6. 28

    I hate when my Internet Explorer 6 sits at home all day and watches TV and gets hairy. He doesn’t even like to be taken out for a walk anymore if it is around newer websites because he is too old to keep up. My Firefox goes so much faster due to the flames coming out of his rear end.

  7. 29

    Love it!

    It was a great comic to read.

  8. 30

    Brilliant comic, Brad!

  9. 31

    nice work brad!

  10. 32

    Excellent comic Brad! Thanks for explaining to us the history of IE6. I didn’t know most of that and it was a fun and interesting read.

  11. 33

    Beautiful comic strip! And it is time for IE6 to stay home and never come out again :-)

    • 34

      If I had it my way I wouldn’t develop for IE6 at all, Unfortunately the market share is too large to deny. The result? We spend far too much time catering to IE6 when we could spend that time productively.

  12. 35

    IE6, scourge for mankind… or… web developers at least.

  13. 36

    I think it’s time for Mr IE6 to retire. He’s had a good and long life, but he’s getting very old now. But because I am nice, I will still lend him a hand in rendering my webpages, so long as he doesn’t mind a little bit of graceful degradation.

  14. 37

    Brad delivers as usual. Awesome cartoon once again, Brad.

  15. 38

    Really? Bush jokes over a year after he’s been out of office? Even Olberman and John Stewart have moved on. It’s just tired.

    • 39

      I was enjoying the comic until the unnecessary Bush joke. Can’t I read anything without politics creeping into it? Give me a break, dude. The Bush-bashing is getting old.

      • 40

        Especially since the chart fits Obama better.

        • 41

          You’re a bunch of crybabies. Go shoot some elks with Sarah. I though it was funny.

          • 42

            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!

      • 43

        Come on people, the point is all about how old IE 6 is, it is of the Bush and even earlier era. You guys not following what’s being said or something?

        • 44

          yeah to everyone that whines about the politics can suck my D. its a comic get a fkn life.

          and to all designers/devs it’s your responsibility to stop using ie6 and educate your users if you are going to require them to upgrade. I refuse to support it and have a laundry list of reasons why and I use some JS to alert those on ie6 that they need to upgrade. to all the large companies that can’t see a site in ie6, you need to update your IT policy and get with the fkn program.

          Great comic, thanks!

          • 45

            Ditto. I too put in JS alert that sends folks to upgrade to a nice selection of better browsers. I remember when people didn’t want to upgrade from a DOS interface in the late ’80s!
            Change is good.

            Death to IE6!

    • 46

      Exactly. It was a nice comic until the Bush bashing. There was no need to bring politics into this.

      • 47

        Whether or not you dislike Bush or his administration, it’s a fact of the matter that his popularity declined. Isn’t it always that way, especially in second terms? The president burns himself out from too much campaigning and a ridiculously high-profile, hectic life. Poor guys! Don’t you think we should just fire our presidents as an act of mercy? :o Then they’d have a high-satisfaction but very short term. :D Now everybody’s happy: the people get the high point of the administrations, and the president doesn’t burn himself out completely and leave office in disgrace! I think I’m the best politician on the planet to have come up with that idea!

      • 48

        It was such a nice touch to it that it’s indescribable.

  16. 49

    i love the coach-potato-ie6

  17. 50

    A note: it was not IE6 fighting the browser war with Netscape, but its previous versions 4 and 5.

  18. 51

    Another solid comic/article Brad. Great job!

  19. 52

    Its time is over we should stop designing for it as we had seen in past what developers did with the Win98 after the arrival of WinXP. They stopped developing software with support for Win98.

    I’m not designing anymore for IE6. Its my personal stance and I’m standing on it, already started working on it.

    NO MORE IE6 !!!

  20. 53

    I NEVER comment in Smashing Mag.
    I dont agree smashingmag dropping the support for IE6, cause in my work station this is the only stupid browser i can use.
    But i understand why.
    This is the most AWESOME post in SM history, the only post i can count that bring something to think about.
    I still cant reply to that question, if i should drop or not the support…And thinking about this is a nightmare i cant stand =/
    Wish microsoft did things right just one time..

    Things change…I think everyone should embrance the change and slowly drop the support. Hybrid layouts are still the better choice.

  21. 54

    Christian Schlensker

    February 11, 2010 2:34 pm

    Is Opera playing the part of “The Eye of Sauron” on panel 7? : P

  22. 57

    I tried to explain this to someone in police administration in my city. Their question was: “And what is a browser?” I don’t think even this comic would work for people like them. :(

    But perhaps it’ll work with a friend whom I’ve begging to upgrade since early 2007. Great bedtime comic, thank you. :)

  23. 58

    That was great haha! Brad always makes the best comics and for some reason it felt like I was watching a movie.

    I abandon ie6 a long time ago and am not supporting it any longer. If my websites look messed up for ie6 then o well because you should of moved on by now :)

  24. 61

    The world needs more opinion on IE6 at this point in time. Its cute… but make a statement. The end is weak.

  25. 62

    This is brilliant! I agree with Tai, I’ll be linking this one whenever I come across it as an issue. Thanks Brad!

  26. 63

    May I please have a full-sized wallpaper of the epic IE vs Netscape LOTR panel? Pretty please? :-D

  27. 64

    @ #1. You belong with IE6

  28. 65

    A political joke in a web comic? Really? Because Obama is doing so well? Otherwise it was mildly amusing.

    • 66

      I think it was because the release and decline of IE6 happened almost simultaneously with the release and decline of the Bush administration (2001-2008), so I thought it was quite fitting.

      • 67

        yes steve,

        brandon = the entire american public.

        spot on mate. let’s have a geography trivia session over tea, innit? safe bruv.

    • 68

      8 years of that embarrassing moron Bush in the Whitehouse and you won’t even give Obama a couple of years to make an impact? How fickle the American public is. Perhaps Obama should start a few more wars, it seems like you yanks aren’t happy unless you’re invading somewhere none of you can place on a map.

  29. 69

    great comic!! ;)

  30. 70

    I loved that.

    It was refreshing to read something that was well informed and addressed the history correctly instead of crying “OMG IE6 is sh*t!!”

    It’s rather interesting to see why people still use it, to be honest I’ve never had problems supporting it, I usually just simplify my designs for the browser and everything still looks great (and chances are if they’re using an older browser, then they have a slower connection and will thank you for the lighter load times).

    I know a lot of people pin their hopes on the death of ie6, but I find that those people are usually the lazy designers/developers. Rather than seeing it as a chore, use it as a challenge. Learn about why those quirks are appearing, you’ll eventually find that catering for ie6 only adds about half an hour on your development time.

    • 71

      That’s not true. I used to support it as well (and it was quite easy for me too), but since many major companies have stopped supporting IE6 (even Microsoft itself doesn’t support its browser) I saw no point to continuing to code for it. It’s probably at the same point 10 years ago when people had to decide whether to continuing supporting IE5…I’m sure there were a few people still using it, but eventually they upgraded. The same needs to happen as well. Has nothing to do with being “lazy”.

      • 72

        I’m going to disagree with you on this. I do see it as lazy, or perhaps sloppy. But it is important to do as the comic mentions and look at your audience. Just because Microsoft no longer support IIE6, doesn’t mean your audience will stop using it. At least have the decency to serve up a viewable website for your users (design blogs need not apply)

    • 73

      …agree with you in almost everything except the half and hour, you must be some kind of devgod…

      • 74

        Haha, not a devgod, I just have a few tricks and expected quirk solutions I can quickly refer to (or even the odd css reset sheet if I’m feeling dangerous – haha!)


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