Web developers and designers have been dealing with the shortcomings of Internet Explorer 5+ for Windows for the last few years. Working around problems like the box model, double float margins, and so on have caused too many a designer migraine.
The promise of the numerous CSS enhancements in Internet Explorer 7 should put to the rest (most of) all hacks and workarounds.
With the WinIE7, the question arises: “When will Internet Explorer 7 get here?” Sure, we have the conference promoting the browser with the necessary promotional material, but when will others outside our industry start using the IE7? When will this new browser become something web developers will absolutely need to worry about when crafting their site designs?
Refining the Question
Depending on whom you ask (and when you asked), the release of Internet Explorer 7 will be arriving along with Windows Vista in January 2007. (Well, that’s the last I read about the launch date anyway.)
So, is January 2007 the date and time web developers need to make sure everything is ready to go for WinIE7?
While web developers will be the first to adopt the browser (if they haven’t already started tweaking with the beta release), a browser doesn’t simply come out of beta on Day 1 and start massaging the pulsating temples of weary web developers. It takes time for market penetration.
So, the questions is, “when will your users start using Internet Explorer 7?”
Finding the Answer
One way of estimating when to care about Microsoft’s new browser is to find more about the adoption rate of the current Internet Explorer over its predecessor. In other words, how long did it take for IE6 to make a difference over IE5? (For the purpose of this article, I’m combining IE5.5 with IE5.)
According to Wikipedia, Internet Explorer came out in August 27, 2001. Yes, you read that right. It’s been five years between major browser versions, if IE7 launches this year.
Now knowing the launch date of the browser, I needed some site statistics around the same time that IE6 launched.
Since I haven’t been running my own site in a consistent fashion–one year it’s a blog, one year it’s a static page, then the next year it’s a static page, now it’s a blog in need of a redesign–I couldn’t use my own site statistics.
I came across a couple of sites that publish an archive of their browser statistics. If you have been a web developer for some time, I’m sure you’ve come across their material as well.
The first site I came across was W3C Schools. They thankfully have set their statics in a nice table making it easy for me to skim for the information I was looking for.
Their browser stats shows that in 2002, IE6 support went from 30% to over 50% in the span of eleven months. At the same time, IE5 went from over 50% to less than 30% in usage. However, their statistics start after the launch of IE6. So, while interesting to note, the data is not much help to answer the question.
|Time||WinIE5(%)||WinIE6(%)||WinIE5 %Drop||WinIE6 %Rise|
Some Analysis (Or, Truly Wild Assumptions)
- IE6 registered almost 10% share in its second month.
- The average drop in Internet Explorer 5 was 3.42%.
- The average rise in Internet Explorer 6 adoption was 3.98%.
- It took about a year before Internet Explorer 6 overtook version 5 as the main browser.
What’s interesting to me is how fast Internet Explorer 6 became on the radar for EWS. This could be for a lot of reasons we’re not privy to, but if I did have to guess as to the cause of the early adoption rate, I would wager it’s that the researchers at an engineering school are more inclined to update their machines than most of corporate America.
So, if we are to care about making our sites suitable for IE7, we have one month after the launch of IE7 to get the sites tested and prepared before not doing anything becomes a serious problem. Also, it will mean we will have to support the IE6 for at least a year after IE7’s release.
But even with the strong adoption, it still took a year for Internet Explorer 6 to become the dominant browser. (If you are Microsoft, you didn’t care because you own both IE5 and 6.)
What’s Your Number?
These statistics give a biased result. Like the W3C Schools, this EWS source probably serves a technical savvy audience. And they work great for EWS. Since they are their statistics, they can make predictions and plans based off them without fear they are off. For the rest of us, that’s not the case.
To get hard date for your own site, you will check the log files to determine what browsers are being used. Make the determination of when you should start preparing for Internet Explorer 7.
So, if you have a site that’s been around since August 2001. Take a look through your own log files and discover the adoption rate of IE6 over IE5.
- How long did it take for IE6 to gain 5% browser share? 10%?
- How long did it take for IE6 to become the dominant browser your visitors use?
Once you find out the answers, please post them in the comments to let myself and other people know too.