Internet Explorer 9-10: Can You Use Them?

It’s been a month now since IE9 was released (set for mass upgrade on Vista in late June) so I found myself a little shocked that in April they announce IE10’s development. While Mozilla and Google (and now Opera) have relatively short development cycles and give us incremental, steady releases —which Mozilla have just announced a new channel for even better and maybe shorter cycles — Microsoft is yearly at best (unless you’re IE6(!)).

Internet Explorer 9 is set for upgrade on Vista in June, but not XP users (still approximately 60% of Windows users) because it’s not supported. Needless to say this will annoy a lot of people. And then there’s the fact that if IE9 is so awe inspiringly great then why not upgrade and improve that before rushing off to start in pastures new? I’m sure people will wonder and I should imagine that it will deflate their hype over IE9 come June.

And yet, despite years of angry developers and customers alike they seem to have gone to the extreme. IE10 is Windows 7 and above only! No support for XP or Vista. See a pattern? One could say it’s going in the opposite direction to other vendors who are making their browsers more accessible!

There’s also the matter of it only running on Windows and not OS X or Linux. Apple are seen as very elitist and ‘You-Must-Own-Our-Hardware/Software-To-Use-This’. Why then is it Apple are giving Safari to Windows users? Surely Microsoft can do the same?

Microsoft have launched a campaign to try and make users and businesses upgrade from IE6 to IE8+ too, stating that it’s not secure and behind the times.

And so I reach my point (beyond that we may have to wait another year before IE catches up to the pack — which many people doubt will happen even then). If Microsoft want people to stop yelling in frustation and want to be ‘the best’ with Internet Explorer then it’s a heck of a way to do it.

For a front-end developer it means that glimmer of hope that IE6 will die is pretty much gone. It means that a fraction of users will be able to use it and the rest either can’t or doen’t see why they should shell out money to upgrade their OS just for Internet Explorer.

It is said that people don’t like change. If it were up to me, I’d do what Google do and upgrade people automatically. Not sure how that would work with IE6 though but since they made it I’m sure they could figure something out. Sadly, that likely wouldn’t happen.

If companies are already having such a hard time upgrading their browsers and are using XP, what do we think they are going to say when they say “OK let’s do this! What’s the latest version?” and get told “oh, no sorry, you have to upgrade your entire OS and network to use this browser”? Followed up the not unreasonable question of “well what about IE9?” and get informed “no, you have to have Windows Vista”? They’d say “…I see. Think we’ll come back to it… Maybe”. I think you see my point, anyway.

However, here’s hoping IE10 will support a considerable amount more than it’s younger kin or else people will never take the seriously. I can’t say that I blame them either.


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