Sunday, December 16, 2007

IE7 has now overtaken IE6

I am happy to be able to report the news that is the subject of this blog entry:  that IE7 has now apparently overtaken IE6 for browser share.

I base this information on the Active Users page here at Lottery Post, in addition to regular web site log analysis.

Over the past several weeks I have monitored consistent statistics showing at least 25% more IE7 users than IE6 users.  (Looking further down the chain, the IE5 user population is so small at this point that it's a mere blip, and certainly not worthy of breaking one's back to support.)

The Lottery Post user community is an excellent one to use in gaging browser penetration, because it is first-most a very large user population, but perhaps even more importantly, it is made up of mainly non-technical people.  (If technical people made up a large percentage of the Lottery Post site visits there would be completely unrealistic browser statistics, with a high percentage of Firefox users and much fewer IE6 users.)

The migration from IE6 to IE7 is a tremendous benefit to everyone, because that means more and more people are seeing pages as they are meant to be seen, and web site designers are inching closer to the day when they no longer have to jump through hoops to have every web user share the same experience.

An example of this can be seen on the (admittedly cool) Sudoku page I completed and implemented this week.  IE6 users can play the game, just like anyone else, but they are missing some cool button roll-over effects because their web browser is simply incapable of drawing PNG semi-transparent images together with CSS sprite techniques that are used for the roll-overs.

In fact, it was hard enough just to get IE6 to draw the PNG images with no roll-over effect!  To support the image format I had to use conditional comment tags and a special style sheet that would only be read by IE6.

The kind of limitations imposed on web developers by needing to support old browsers like IE6 not only is a waste of time for people like me, but also limits the amount of creativity I can employ, and reduces the number of cool, friendly features that I can implement.

Thus, I look at the shrinking IE6 population with hope and excitement.

Some of the surge in IE7 usage may be due to Windows Vista making some inroads.  (IE7 is the default web browser in Vista.)  I have been noticing a consistent figure of about 15% of the Lottery Post site vistors using Vista.

Like the migration from IE6 to IE7, the migration to Vista also represents a positive step for web designers, as they can count on each Vista user having excellent support for recent and emerging technologies, like Flash, fonts, graphics (like PNG graphics), etc. — as well as generally better hardware, such as monitor resolution. 

The ability to produce wider pages (again like the Sudoku example, as well as pages like the Lottery Results Gadget Guide) is liberating for web designers, and better for users.

In fact, although I refer to web designers in each case as being the beneficiary of user upgrades, it is fact the users that ultimately benefit the most.

Many IE6 users have not upgraded to IE7 yet because they don't see the benefit, don't know it's free and/or easy, or because they simply don't know about it.

Do you fall into that category?  Go into the Tools menu of your web browser and select Windows Update.

Follow the options and prompts to set up the Windows Update, if you are so prompted, and then follow the prompts to upgrade to IE7.

You and I both will be happy you did.