So long and thanks for all the hacks

BY:
John Elliott

If you build websites, a fact of life is cross browser compatibility. Modern browsers do have their little quirks, but to be honest with a little care and attention you can write HTML and CSS that will look good anywhere.

On the other hand, trying to ensure that your website or application is as gorgeous and fast on a browser almost ten years old as it is on Microsoft Edge or the latest version of Chrome is an exercise in frustration.

Supporting old browsers is both time consuming and expensive; it is responsible for uncountable amounts of hair pulling, cursing and gnashing of teeth by developers and their managers. It is easy to descend into a nightmare of Polyfills and hacks to force old browsers to do things that they were never built to do in the first place. Given enough time most things are possible, but usually at the cost of a slower and more frustrating user experience. Please, if you are still using Windows XP and can’t update to a modern, secure version of Internet Explorer at least install Chrome (while you still can).

Things are now changing, and they are changing faster and faster. Standards compliance for web browsers is in vogue; There is the trickle down effect of Moore’s Law… devices keep getting more and more powerful for a given cost; Devices and platforms have changed… even five year ago it was safe to assume most people would view a website on a laptop or PC – now they could be on anything from a phone to a laptop to a fridge. A ‘one size fits all’ design no longer makes any sense. When your website and app is a different size on every device, Brand Identity and beautiful, satisfying user experience are paramount, pixel perfect doesn’t really mean anything anymore.

Not only do old browsers provide users with an increasingly dismal user experience, but these days your digital security is at risk. Microsoft is embracing the new with vengeance – Windows XP is dead and buried, Windows Vista is apparently still supported, but it doesn’t matter because nobody uses it.

From 12th January 2016 Microsoft will only support the following browsers:

Windows Platform Internet Explorer Version
Windows Vista SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows Server 2008 SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows 7 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows 8.1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2012 Internet Explorer 10
Windows Server 2012 R2 Internet Explorer 11

After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates. For example, customers using Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, or Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 7 SP1 should migrate to Internet Explorer 11 to continue receiving security updates and technical support. – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ie/archive/2014/08/07/stay-up-to-date-with-internet-explorer.aspx

The ‘Enterprise’ has historically used too justify support for insecure relics but has been specifically addressed by Microsoft. Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, released in April 2014, offers enhanced backward compatibility and enables you to run many legacy Web apps during your transition to modern Web standards.

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Author: John Elliott

John has extensive knowledge of working on websites used by wide audiences. His experience means his design/web structures are all web 4.0 ready. John leads our in-house development team, ensuring processes are in place and our technology is robust.

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