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Kimberly Blessing Hi, my name is Kimberly Blessing. I'm a computer scientist, Web developer, standards evangelist, feminist, and geek. This is where I write about life, the Web, technology, women's issues, and whatever else comes to mind.

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Is IE6 the new NN4?

There’s a interesting and fun post and comment thread about IE7 adoption over at WaSP, and it has me wondering… will IE6 linger like Netscape Navigator 4.x did?

Surely, no browser could take as long as NN4 to be purged from the systems of its dedicated users. Many WinXP SP2 users will be presented head-on with the option to upgrade via Windows Update very soon — and my guess is that most people will accept the upgrade, simply because they don’t know or care enough to learn about what they’re getting. I can already see members of my family just clicking “Yes” or “Accept” on whatever dialog box is displayed… they won’t even bother to call and ask me what they should do.

But if companies and ISPs are really suggesting to employees, clients, and users that they not upgrade to IE7, as one commenter suggests, will people listen? If companies and ISPs are making this recommendation, do they have any reason better than “we didn’t test our site in any of the IE7 release candidates and either we’re too stubborn to accommodate Microsoft or our developers don’t know how to fix the display problems in IE7″?

I only slightly jest in suggesting such an excuse — I’m sure there’s some company out there for which that is their reason. But how ridiculous! Ignorance on your part will only serve to frustrate and alienate users, not Microsoft. Not to mention how bad you, Company X, look for making such a statement.

No, I don’t really think IE6 will hang around as long as NN4. After the Windows Update, and then after the holidays, when many folks get new computers, we’ll see a big drop in its percentage. After that it will slowly decline, until Vista comes out. And by that point its share will probably be less than 20%, I would guess. I could be totally off — I haven’t worked tech support in a long time, but my gut has been right before, and this is what my gut tells me. Regardless, I don’t see IE6 CSS hacks going away, just as IE5 hacks haven’t totally disappeared. CSS is the new proprietary DOM, in that sense… and for a while longer we’ll have to keep forking code to handle specific browsers. IE7 doesn’t solve that problem…

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