IE8 is Going the Way of the Dodo, So Why Support a Dying Species?

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Illustration of a dodo representing Explorer 8's imminent demise

Should IE8 support concern you when designing for the web? What do you say when a client wants to make their site IE8 compatible? From Netscape 3 to Explorer 6 to Blackberry to the latest Chrome, supporting legacy browsers has — and probably will be — a concern for web designers.

So what are your options when working on a new web site or application?

  • Don't use anything that IE8 doesn't understand. This includes CSS3 and media queries.
  • Create a separate stylesheet tailored for IE8. This is a common trend, but it's still a pain that requires a whole separate QA process.
  • Ignore IE8. It's going to die anyway.

We're inclined to go with the last option. But sometimes it's not that easy. Convincing some clients to ignore IE8 will require hard facts and difficult conversations. Here's some firepower for you when that chat comes up:

Explorer 8 is the latest IE browser supported on Windows XP, which Microsoft will officially stop supporting in April 2014. IT departments will finally be forced to upgrade to an OS that supports newer versions of IE.

Most of today's popular browsers automatically upgrade themselves, including Chrome, Firefox and Explorer — starting with IE9. Microsoft has adopted an automatic update process that will force most IE9 users to auto upgrade to IE10, resulting in a shorter life cycle for IE9. Before, designers had to wait for users to update their own browsers, which was unreliable at best. Automatic updates means less of a need to design for older browsers, as new browsers' lifecycles get shorter and shorter.

Mobile devices are the future. More traffic comes from tablets and smartphones every month. It's more important to focus on where the demand is — and will be — than to focus on legacy code. Even big companies like Time and Microsoft have turned to designing for mobile devices.

After considering these points you should start to see that IE8 is something that is very close to the end of needing support. Your time could be better spent developing mobile-friendly sites than supporting browsers that fewer people use as time goes on. Spinning your wheels working on legacy support will just make you extinct.

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