It’s Time to Ditch IE8

Internet Explorer 8 does not support many things.

The Javascript API is ancient, forget CSS transforms or transitions, forget gradients, text shadow, WOFF fonts, SVG, and box shadow (see more on caniuse.com). It ignores border radius – and – even worse – completely ignores your media queries.

I was looking at this tweet, thinking… really do we still have to worry about this?

IE is now up to version 11, so what’s happened to IE8 – does anyone still use it?

Fortunately I’ve got about 6 years of analytics data, from a website that has fairly general demographics (> 500k visits per month, fairly even male/female split).

 

Previously I was looking at tech-focused sites (such as this blog or W3Schools), and the stats are very skewed toward technical users (so I thought IE8 was dead and buried… but…)

IE Browser Version Share 2008-Feb 2014

ieshare1

DATA: All Desktop visitors who use Internet Explorer.

From Jan 1 2014 to Feb 20 2014 29.8% of Internet Explorer users are still using IE8.

IE Browser Version Share Jan 2014 to Jan 2015

UPDATE for 2015. Good news! IE 8 is declining.
Month % IE Visitors using IE8
Jan-14 30.85%
Feb-14 27.54%
Mar-14 26.67%
Apr-14 26.06%
May-14 25.77%
Jun-14 23.43%
Jul-14 25.39%
Aug-14 23.72%
Sep-14 19.62%
Oct-14 19.44%
Nov-14 17.41%
Dec-14 16.23%
Until 15 Jan 2015 15.65%

IE8 vs All Other Desktop Browsers 2008 – Feb 2014

ieshare2

DATA: All desktop visitors who use any browser.

IE8 vs All Other Browsers Jan 2014 – Jan 2015

Month % using IE8
Jan-14 8.51%
Feb-14 7.04%
Mar-14 6.01%
Apr-14 5.97%
May-14 5.87%
Jun-14 4.06%
Jul-14 5.29%
Aug-14 5.41%
Sep-14 2.93%
Oct-14 3.93%
Nov-14 3.17%
Dec-14 3.00%
Jan-15 3.29%
IE8 now only makes up around 3% of desktop browsers. (Jan 2015)

In many sites, desktop users may only be half of your visitors, making the percentage even smaller. In the particular site that I’ve drawn these statistics from, the total IE8 share is now just 1.13%.

I think it’s time to ditch any extra work for IE8 (of course your results may vary).

IE7 is now like a bad nightmare.

Hi, I'm James, and for the last decade I've made a living by making my own blogs and websites.
Updated: September 15, 2016

41 Comments

  1. 互相支持,共同发展。感谢站长。

  2. Well, it is now January 2015 and the W3Schools stats counter show that last month, only 1.3% of all their visitors were using IE8.
    In fact, in Feb 2014, the figure was only 2.7%
    (source: http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_explorer.asp)

    Personally, I find that to be an interesting statistic and, as w3Schools is a site used by developers, I am not surprised. The majority of end-users won’t have a need to go there.

    I normally use netmarketshare (http://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=2&qpcustomd=0) for these stats, and that site shows IE8 as having a global share of 19% (and a bit) as at December 2014.
    So it certainly can’t be ignored, although with IE (next generation) being built, who knows what is going to happen.

    Interestingly, Chrome is shown as having a very low share. I find that interesting because of everyone I know, the majority are Chrome users. I don’t have many large, corporate clients, nor any in China.

    In terms of RWD, graceful degradation is still key. Make sure that the sites you build will give a good representation of themselves across all major browsers and make sure they are mobile-responsive.
    But first, (long pause), make sure your clients understand why they need to pay for you to do all of this extra work. If they don’t want to pay, then let them know that long-term, they will regret not making the investment.

    Happy 2015, all!
    🙂

    • Agree with the graceful degradation. I need to update my stats soon.

  3. Thank you for the post. it looks like this post was placed in Jan, 2014. but you are providing “2014” data. What is that specifically?

    Also, would you be able to put together an updated post to include all of 2014. With many common libraries dropping support for anything less than IE9, I would hope the IE8 usage is down even more dramatically.

    • I will recheck in the new year.

      • Great! It’s Jan 4, 2015. Can’t wait for you to update the charts for “up til the end of 2014”. I’m praying IE8 has gone down at least a little. IE9 does a reasonable job of rendering my site (not awesome). IE8 renders something that’s more or less non-functional and I don’t want to have to care. I really don’t.

        • I’m with you on the don’t want to care part. Promise I will spend some time looking at the stats soon.

  4. Windows XP support ended seven months ago. I suppose many people stucked in Explorer 8 was because XP. I would like to know if your stats show the ratio of upgrading from XP to others SO (from IE8 to newer versions)
    I also want to note that Microsoft will drop support for Explorer 8 on January 2016 (althought it’s out of scope for your article)

  5. I was pretty scared when I saw this graph, because my site is completely broken in IE8. And the issue is, IE8 is pre-installed with Windows 7.

    But, I just checked my own site analytics for the past month, and IE8 only represents 10% of IE users on my site, which is pretty small. Of course, of those IE8 visitors that end up on my site, most of them bounce.. but I’ll probably just accept that rather than spend hours catering to them.

  6. This may seem like a silly question, but isn’t the important question “who” is using IE8? There is a big difference between a blog, e-commerce, or news site with global reach vs a small business with primarily US or EU visitors? A small business would should be spending their limited web dev dollars on mobile support, high quality secure hosting and PPC. Or am I missing something here?

    • One blogger (can’t remember who it was) had some excellent advice: he said that you should ignore global usage stats. Pay attention to what YOUR users are using. Sure, IE6 is still common in China. But is that really part of your target audience?

      If IE8 usage among your user base is down below 1% (as it is in my case), then it’s safe to throw the holdouts to the wolves. I’ve started putting up blunt “you are using an obsolete brower” warnings to anyone with anything less than IE10.

      “Oh, but my IT department won’t let us upgrade.” Well, then, tell them to get off their butts. There’s no excuse for sticking with obsolete technology other than laziness and misplaced fear, and in my experience as a sysadmin, resisting upgrades eventually bites you on the ass.

  7. Important to note that Windows 7 shipped with IE8, so this isn’t just an XP thing.

    If users have kept the default setting of critical updates only then there is a good likelihood that they will still be running IE8. And yes, it is commonplace within corporates for automatic updates to be disabled.

    Windows 7 is a solid, reliable operating system and people like it. Internet Explorer 8, therefore, will be with us for a number of years to come.

  8. The biggest problem with IE8 is the lack of support for new layout technologies. it’s one thing not to support rounded corners, shadows, animations and so on. Those things are fairly unimportant in the grander picture in regards to gain access to content. What is a problem however is the new layout technologies coming to stable browsers just about now, like Flex Box and also soon to come Grid Layout.

    These are two fundamental design technologies which any site which uses them will depend on, you can’t progressively enhance your way out of not having a layout system like you can safely ignore rounded borders for older browsers.

  9. I often wonder whether, by providing for IE8 visitors when we build our sites, we’re simply being “enablers.” Perhaps an IE8 visitor should be presented with an obtrusive message that says, “You’re using an obsolete browser that won’t display this site correctly. Please update to Chrome, Firefox, or IE11.” Maybe we could drive the IE8 usage stats down, rather than waiting passively for it to die.

    In a business environment, the decision might be driven by worries about losing customers, of course. But I’ve read posts by various developers who say that if you tell the customer, “Yes, we can make the site accessible to IEx users, but the development costs will be 30% higher,” the customers suddenly lose interest in supporting legacy platforms. Surprise, surprise!

    And maybe those of us who design sites that don’t involve generating income could do something for the cause, risking only losing a few visitors, rather than dollars.

    • I do this for IE7. But it maybe that many IE8 users have no control over their software (e.g. users in large corporates).

  10. thanks for the good article. i’m in the music business though, and i haven’t seen IE on a computer for several years from my clientele. thankfully. i’m going foundation now for the next website.

    • Thanks. Definitely different niches have different browsers. Give IE8 another another year and hopefully we’ll see the back of it.

  11. Now that Microsoft has dropped support for XP developers have a valid reason to no longer support internet exploder 8. Good riddance! I’m happy to tell users to update or use another browser. And Remi you obviously are not a web dev. Lol

  12. We’ve just started work on our first client site that has agreed to abandon IE8 and below in favour of a fully responsive website.

    We looked at their specific stats and showed them that IE8 usage was at 2% and dropping. We agreed that it would be better to put the effort into making a better experience for the other 98% of their user base that does support media queries.

    • It’s important to test your own userbase before making assumptions. This shows why.

  13. I’m sorry but I don’t really see what the problem is with IE8. it’s kind of slow, you have to deal with a few weird JS issues yet totally manageable if you’re not doing a shitty job, CSS support is limited to CSS2 but all in all it’s not THAT bad.

    And that’s what’s important here: it’s ok. And that’s what its users think and they are right. I’m sorry but most front end folks should remember what the web is, and the web is NOT parallax, print-like columns or webgl experiments. As soon as you get this and leave those craps to “Web experiments” or creative branded commercial webads, IE8 is ok.

    Cool kids & young are surely using Chrome or Firefox, but IE users don’t care since they obviously have very limited needs when it comes to the web. News, emails, ebay, YouTube weather, sports. That’s it. My 35 yo bro is a IE8 user: “No experimental flash-like webcraps for me? Fine! I don’t give a s*** about them anyway. I want Google search & e-commerce product sheets.”. He is right, and IE8 can and do this for him every single day. It’s doing the job.

    Media query? Why the f*** for? Is IE8 used on any mobile device? TV? Speaking about mobile, i’m a lot more pissed-off by Android stock browser than IE8 those days, ’cause this piece of crap is slow, pretending it’s not while not doing the job.

    For all those reasons IE8 is here to stay and I’m glad it is since it limits crazy stupid folks’s “creativity” making the web a video game.

    And to be clear, Google Maps or Docs are apps available on the web, not the web like Wikipedia or weather forecast is. So that’s totally ok if those are limited or slow until user is warned about it with advice to “fix this limitation” (aka install & use another browser). Just like a videogame not looking as good as on an XBox if my computer can’t handle it, with the advice to add more memory or get a newer graphic card.

    My 0,02€

    • Enjoyed reading that… good to get some other perspective.

      And the media query thing: The problem is mobile-first CSS. BEcause IE8 can’t recognize the media queries for the larger viewport layouts, it will get the mobile layout (on the desktop browser). May not be a problem for some, or it may need a work-around.

    • Remi; please, please tell me you’re not involved in anything to do with user experience, design or even considerations of people with disabilities relying on accessible technology? Because it’s people with your kind of narrow viewpoint that are holding back the web

      I don’t care that your brother “doesn’t give a s*** about flash-like webcraps” (even if I knew what that was). Your brother isn’t forced to watch them.

      But the continued use of this obsolete, 5 year old nightmare is forcing developers to put in place complicated workarounds which impede the full accessibility of websites.

      Sure, there are polyfills and javascript and hacks and workarounds and modernizr and whatnot, but there shouldn’t need to be.

      I will continue to try as hard as I can to educate users away from IE8. I will continue to write to local government or large companies where I find them forcing their users, some disabled, to use IE8. And I will continue to name and shame companies which continue to offend, with letters to disability groups, sites, forums and the wider press where this obsolete browser if enforced on users.

      http://theie8countdown.com/

    • IE8 doesn’t support form validation, new HTML5 form elements, audio/video tags, Web Open Font Format, SVG, download attribute, css resize property, css3 animations, datalist elements, viewport units, root em units, sandbox attributes for iframes, input placeholder attribute, offline web applications, css transformations, canvas elements, menu elements or some css selectors. Support for drag and drop and css3 opacity is listed as only partial.

      That’s a whole lot to code around, even when I’m just designing a simple business site to just create/read/update/delete data records. Nice icons are especially difficult when screens range from <100 to 500ish ppi and you have no SVG or WOFF support. With Chrome, I only need to code around missing menu support.

      My life in web development went from miserably depressed insanity to wonderful as soon as my level of IE support dropped to version "whenever Microsoft can get their act together". From a web developer standpoint, IE8 lies somewhere between FireFox 2 and 3, and IE10 is about as good as Firefox 10 (currently shipping version 29) and Chrome 10 (currently shipping version 34).

      http://theie8countdown.com/
      http://theie9countdown.com/
      http://theie10countdown.com/

    • Fact, the web is whatever anyone wants it to be. There is no what it should be, hence why it is so popular because it can be anything to anyone.

      • Not on ie8 it can’t. That’s the whole issue. On ie8 it’s whatever it’s limited to be.

    • But the question is Remi, why should we the designers and developers have to support a browser that is, infact, not being supported by it’s creators anymore. Plus, the fact that IE 8 was introduced 14 years ago kind of suggests it’s time for an upgrade. If the end user cannot be bothered to upgrade their system, why should we be bothered to waste countless hours trying to make it work for them?

    • Remi I can’t believe you claim to be a developer and yet dont have any issue with IE8?! Have you tried building a site and testing it on IE8? ‘Web craps’ as you call them should not just be left as experiments, they’re what pushes the web forward. I guess what you were trying to say was that simplicity is the best option and will help you avoid bugs in IE but that doesn’t mean that the web should be limited by how terrible IE8 is.

  14. IE8 is the highest IE web browser XP will support. I only use it because some legacy sites aren’t supported in Chrome or Firefox. I also am logged into some accounts at work in Chrome and I don’t feel like switching out to do just one task. When Windows 7/8 gets better adoption, the IE8 rate will drop. Windows 8 slower adoption and the scarcity of Win 7 machines is probably drawing out IE8’s demise.

    • Yep, it’s a difficult upgrade path for a lot of users – thus the slow slow decline of IE8.

  15. I’m unclear where these stats are from (this website, W3Schools, or something else), but to build on what James notes: I think it really depends on studying browser share on a project by project basis.

    Two personal examples from site I built last year:
    Site #1: main audience visited using mostly iOS devices, and Chrome. I don’t even think I looked at the site in IE10 or below.
    Site #2: audience is spread across a few enterprises with locked down workstations. IE7 was a major factor, so we wrote code defensively.

    I know it’s a lame thesis, but I’ve found it really depend on a project to project basis. I don’t know if I’ll ever declare a minimum browser age (or IE version) that I’m willing to support.

    • Of course it depends on the site, demographic interests etc. This data is from CaffeineInformer.com – where demographic data (obtained from google doubleclick) show a fairly even male/female share, and a reasonable age share, and also an even mix of mobile to desktop (about 50/50).

      If your site is tech-focused you can probably not worry about IE8, but the point of this is that it is not dead yet.

      Thanks for your comments.

  16. It’s certainly proof why *you* can’t abandon IE8 right now, your stats show there to be a reasonable case for supporting it but I’m sure any time now an internet RWD warrior will find you some stats that show a site of similar size where the only traffic is high end macbooks and retina iPads and their position will be that *they* can totally ignore IE8.

    The reality as ever is neatly contained in the standard design response of “it depends”.

    I find that adopting a practical approach of making content at least accessible and then layering on the good stuff still works fine in many situations.

    J.

    • Oh absolutely, you need stats on the sites you manage, but in this case and site that has (IMO) a much more general audience shows IE8 is still quite well used.

  17. These charts make me sad. IE is the bane of web developers’ existences. I’ll continue to develop inclusively, though hopefully for not much longer.

  18. Interesting piece, though you don’t consider how RAMPANT (pardon the capslock) IE6 still is in China. Designing and developing websites here is a fallback plans nightmare because an estimated 30% of China’s gigantic online population is using IE6 or local browsers based on its core… The root cause of this massive problem are Chinese banks: their e-banking interface are almost entirely made with Internet Explorer in mind and use plenty of ActiveX components and other atrocities.

    • IE6 also seemed to hang around a lot longer than I would have thought, but in the US seems to have pretty much vanished.

      You have my sympathy having to deal with that nightmare.

    • Oh gosh…

    • wow. never thought of that, but china is not my market. best wishes.

Add a Comment