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What does a perfect world look like?

If you're a web designer or developer, chances are your perfect world is a world free of older versions of Internet Explorer.

Despite the popularity of Chrome and Firefox, and the proliferation of non-Windows mobile devices, Microsoft's web browser is still used by countless millions around the world. Depending on what you're building and what versions of IE you're required to support, that can mean big headaches.

But is it time to kick older versions of IE to the curb? The people behind the world's most popular JavaScript library, jQuery, apparently think so.

Yesterday, they announced that in early 2013, when jQuery 2.0 is scheduled to be released, it will drop support for IE6, IE7 and IE8. Front-end developers that have no choice but to support these browsers will have to use jQuery 1.9, which will also be released in early 2013. One way to do this is to use a less-than-pretty IE conditional.

While many look forward to the day when past versions of IE can be put to rest, some are suggesting that jQuery is jumping the gun, particularly when it comes to IE8. It, after all, was the default browser that shipped with Windows 7 and is the last version of IE for Windows XP, which is still used in more than a few corporate environments.

Supporters of jQuery's decision point out that Windows XP was released more than 10 years ago in 2001 and that while IE8 isn't nearly as old, it now has a market share of well under 20% and falling fast.

So who is right? It's a tough call. Obviously, no two web projects are alike. Plenty of websites could probably ditch everything before IE9 without a noticeable impact; others, because of their audiences, would for all intents and purposes be broken.

jQuery, as the most popular JavaScript library out there, is in a can't-win situation. If the team behind it doesn't ditch older versions of IE, it will become increasingly difficult to boost performance and take advantage of new browser innovations. If it does, it will leave some developers in a lurch.

What does this prove? One thing: even as browser makers seem to be getting better at standards, the rapid pace of innovation in the browser space will ensure that developers have new headaches to deal with.

Patricio Robles

Published 29 June, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2380 more posts from this author

Comments (8)

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Darren

Wouldn't it be prudent to release older browser compatibility as a plug-in for jQuery, rather than drop it all together??

about 4 years ago

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Phillip Parr

IE8 is already 3 years old; I'm all in favour of educating users to upgrade rather than supporting them willy-nilly.

about 4 years ago

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Richard Hoolahan, Digital Manager at Banking

Writing conditions for different IE versions is time consuming and very frustrating. Big move by Jquery whilst I agree developing for IE versions can be annoying I also have to agree with Darren's comments "Wouldn't it be prudent to release older browser compatibility as a plug-in for jQuery, rather than drop it all together?"

Wonder how much time would be saved if you didn't have to write conditions for IE. Employers would love to have that stat....

about 4 years ago

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Kuladip Roy

Hi Patricio, IE9 should support Jquery2.0 otherwise it looses it's charm, all version of IE looses it's market after releasing chrome, Firefox like developed browser.

about 4 years ago

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Robert Hunt

jQuery will be releasing two versions and from reading their blog post it would appear as though both 1.9 and 2.0 will be identical in terms of functionality.

The only differences between the two are that 2.0 won't support older browsers and 1.9 will be slower to load/larger file size.

This means of course that they are still supporting older browsers but are putting more pressure on developers to move towards the faster, smaller option of 2.0

about 4 years ago

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Rebecca Nixon, Brand Executive at The IT Job Board

Ew. IE is all kinds of horrible. Can't we just get rid of it? Maybe Microsoft could pay someone to create and distribute a lethal virus that kills IE upon contact, and installs, well, pretty much any other browser... *sigh* that would be lovely...

about 4 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

What Richard said:

> Wonder how much time would be saved if you didn't have to write conditions for IE.

<Churchill voice on>

"Never in the history of mankind was so much owed by so few browser makers to so many web developers. "

about 4 years ago

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abercrombie milano

Es war sicherlich interessant für mich, den Blog zu lesen. Danke dafür. Ich mag solche Themen und alles, was mit ihnen verbunden sind. Ich möchte bald mehr zu lesen.

about 4 years ago

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