<!--[if lte IE 11]>Upgrade!<![endif]-->

One of the biggest problems web developers have is supporting old browsers. Complaints propagate everyday about things that don't work right in IE 7, or 8 and even 9. Honestly they should. Those browsers were not created to support the web standards we enjoy today. Chrome, FireFox and many other browsers just automatically update, well except on Android so the problems of the past are not as concerning.

Let's face it old browsers are a drag. It is extremely expensive to support those browsers, to make web sites that work in those browsers as well as modern browser platforms. Why the heck are the browsers still around in the first place? They are an eye sore like just about every downtown across the world.

I am not going to entertain the why does Microsoft not just force upgrades argument. Personally I think they should. My argument today is not going to cover every topic, but one that I consider one of the primary reasons these old, decayed browsers are still alive, enterprises.

I am sure the Operations or IT Department in just about every enterprise can make a persuasive argument, I just have not heard one yet. These older versions of Internet Explorer are not only a pain to support as a developer they are very insecure compared to Internet Explorer 11. Think about it, why should/would you worry about maintaining security patches to an obsolete version of software you wrote. You probably don't even wont anyone using the software you wrote 6-9 years ago. Why should you expect Microsoft to spend vast amounts of money on an obsolete version? Sure they commit to long range support dates and I guess that is their cross to bare. So from a security angle operations has nothing to cling to.

Maintenance costs are also high. HTML5 and all the goodness it offers makes developing better applications easier, period no way to argue against it. Old IE simply does not support it. Sure you can do some polyfils, but you are just not going to get the same experience you can in the latest Internet Explorer. Everything is faster and features more robust as well as more plentiful. The need to use the full jQuery simply does not exist, that should tell you something right there.

What about these crappy 3rd party applications? You mean your software vendor has not upgraded their software in say 5 years? That is scary to me and reason enough to start looking for a new solution. I think in many instances you can cost justify the migration costs. I would say at this point your vendor recognizes they have no incentive to upgrade (see comments above about supporting old software) or even innovate as you have resigned yourself to being locked into something they built years ago and continue to pay really high licensing and support contracts. Own your data and your infrastructure I say.

No browser is perfect and never will be, no software or operating system is. Chrome and WebKit have many flaws that account for the majority of cruft in the jQuery, not Internet Explorer. I find Firefox be extremely slow on startup. None of them completely support all the HTML5 specs yet. In fact most don't support the features I want most, solid hardware API support. Some are better at touch and animations (that would be IE), some are good at raw JavaScript performance (Chrome). Some have extensible developer tools (Chrome, Firefox) others have tools that are being rewritten with a road map toward being much better (IE). I know I left some browsers out, Opera comes to mind, there are many out there. I point this out simply to say there are browsers to fit everyone's needs.

The bad name Internet Explorer has is not from the current version, its all the old versions that still hang around, predominately in the enterprise, governments and schools. The other night I was at my teenager's open house and just felt sad watching teachers running Windows XP and IE 7. It really made me realize how much my kids are not learning by using out of date software, that is easily upgradeable mind you. But I see it in just about every company I visit. It breaks my heart. The most common phrase I hear from enterprise developers is "sorry we can't do that because we are not allowed to upgrade our browser past Internet Explorer 8". I can feel the sadness in that developer's voice and it makes me mad. I want to fight for and with them because it is just madness.

Its time to upgrade. I know you can do it, there is nothing to be afraid of. Here comes the, but you don't understand our applications wont work in IE 10|11. Have you really tried? I bet you haven't. If your application targeted Internet Explorer 8 I am pretty sure you have very little JavaScript in it because no one really did AJAX heavy sites back then. Do you get any error dialogs, that you actually tried to inspect the code? Does your application work in Chrome or Firefox, if yes, then it will probably work just fine in IE 11. Maybe your CSS makes some things not layout quite right, again simple fixes in most cases. In a worst case scenario set your DOCTYPE for force quirks mode and you will have some time to fix your application. While you are at it you can start leveraging some of the great new features like localStorage and CSS animations. Eliminate those old rounded corners and box shadows you sliced up in PhotoShop with a few lines of CSS. I bet about 90% of the perceived issues could be resolved within a single development sprint. So for a little investment your company can spring forward and operate much more efficiently.

But you say Internet Explorer 11 is not available yet. Think again. Windows 8.1 shipped RTM a few weeks back. Internet Explorer 11 Preview for Windows 7 is already available. Windows 8.1 should be commercially available around October 22, based on the new Surface release date. So yes in the speed of the enterprise it is available. You have less than a month, ready go! Ok, sarcasm aside, you should start injecting this issue into your culture because it is a really big deal. Next April Windows XP officially becomes unsupported, kept alive far too long by Microsoft to appease enterprise customers. With it the last vestiges of Internet Explorer 8 should die as well. At that point you should be running at least Windows 7, which can run IE 11.

Internet Explorer 8 was released on March 19 2009. More than likely you have already traded in your car for a new one if not twice. Automobiles don't change as rapidly as technology. So think about that. Next March IE 8 will be 5 years old, that is ancient in the world we live in. The iPad was not even announced yet! The technology world has changed in so many ways. HTML5 is a very mature platform, techniques to build rich web applications have been tested and perfected. Its time the enterprise take advantage of them and stop holding everything back.

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