Infrequently Noted

Alex Russell on browsers, standards, and the process of progress.

IE 8 is the new IE 6

Again: IE 8 is the new IE 6, following in the grand tradition of boat-anchor browsers. Who remembers NN 4.x's endless death dirge? This isn't about one browser or one version of one browser; it's about rate of progress.

I keep talking about the structural, economic causes that keep the web the way it is, and folks keep misunderestimating me -- some seemingly willfully.

Why, for a decade of experience, can we not seem to see the IE 8 zombie coming? It's not like it's going to be some big surprise that unless we do something different, we'll still be supporting it in 2015. That's right: in 2015, you'll still be thinking about a browser that doesn't support <canvas> or <video> and doesn't even have a JITing JS engine.

Yes, things will get marginally better when we can drop IE 6 & 7 support, but think about the new features that will be in Chrome, Safari, Firefox and IE 9+ for the years that it takes to retire Windows XP. Remember, IE 9+ won't be available on XP. Those features -- more importantly, the rate they're being introduced at -- are going to continue to make IE 8 look as plodding as IE 6 does to modern eyes. So why don't we see it coming? Why isn't this the topic of ALA and Ajaxian articles? Why isn't this the burning question at web conferences? Every MSFT rep and booth person should be asked the question: what are they doing about IE 8?

More to the point, as a web developer, what are you doing about IE 8?

Me, I'm developing for the future exclusively and asking users of legacy browsers to adopt a modern browser or install Chrome Frame. It's an uphill battle from here, but nobody is going to bend this curve but us.