Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Because IE6 is the new Netscape 4.7x

As I read through all the articles spawned by the IE7 announcement (press release), I finally realized something: IE6 is the new Netscape 4.7x.

It's like we woke up one day, and IE6 had transformed overnight into the browser that we all wish would go away. The one that's a pain in the ass to support. The source of all those unfortunate CSS hacks and JavaScript if..then blocks. The browser with all the oh-so-clever derogatory names you get when the crowd has turned on you. And it was so .. sudden. Somehow the IE7 announcement, which should be a glimmer of hope-- remember, we were told there would be no new development of Internet Explorer whatsoever until the next major version of Windows (Longhorn) was released-- is, paradoxically, making the situation worse.

I really hope the IE7 team can pull circa-2001 IE6 out of the accelerating death spiral that it seems to be mired in. I guess that's what you get when you inexplicably stop development for more than three years on a product that is integral to the user experience of millions of users on a daily basis. That's possibly the ultimate WTF.

The same thing happened to Visual SourceSafe-- virtual abandonment. Of course, Sourcesafe is used by a heck of lot less people, but the results were just as catastrophic. Although there's a belated 2005 update that will ship with VS.NET 2005, SourceSafe is now basically synonymous with what not to do in source control.

I don't care how big a monopoly you are. Abandoning development on core products is bad business and demonstrates near-total disregard for your customers. I'm really pulling for the IE7 team, but they have their work cut out for them.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: