Time to Ditch Internet Explorer 6?

Youtube have announced this week that they will not be supporting Internet Explorer 6 (external link) in future development. Instead, they encourage IE6 users to upgrade to Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 8, or Mozilla Firefox. This announcement has caused developers all over the Internet to claim the death of IE6 now that all of these popular websites (Youtube, Facebook, and Digg are the prominent ones) no longer plan to support it. However, I sadly must say that Internet Explorer 6 is going to be around quite a bit longer.

You see, the mass of people still running the decrepit IE6 are on corporate-owned computers, where the IT staff refuses to upgrade to IE7 or IE8. The reason these corporations are not upgrading to IE8 has nothing to do with Youtube or Facebook still supporting IE6. They continue to use IE6 because of internal IE6-only corporate software. Most corporations don't even want their employees on Youtube or Facebook anyhow. Whether or not these popular social websites support IE6 is entirely irrelevant.

So, is it time to ditch IE6? As I always stress, it depends on your individual website. If your traffic logs show a small number of IE6 users, it is probably worth the reduced stress to discontinue IE6 support. Otherwise, you will simply have to live with the hassle a bit longer. If you are developing a new website, it is probably in your best interest to support as many web browsers as possible - IE6 included - until you better understand your audience.

In the end, there is still the hopeful fact that IE6 will eventually fade out of existence. IE6's market share is not increasing. Corporations are slowly upgrading to IE7 and IE8, but I stress slowly. Eventually, web developers will not have to worry about IE6, but, despite Youtube and Facebook, that day has not yet come.