Free At Last, Free At Last!

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

In the world of web design, there are two words that are guaranteed to make every web designer/programmer roll their eyes and groan; the first is “workaround” and the second is “Mac/IE”.

Workaround is usually followed by “for Internet Explorer” and until Microsoft pulls their heads out (of the sand, what did you think I meant?), there’s probably not a lot we’re going to be able to do about it.

But! We can eliminate the Mac/IE problem! The solution is simple, easy to implement, and already in use by the two biggest computer companies out there. That’s right, the solution is to just ignore Mac/IE users.

I’m serious.

Microsoft has long since jumped ship on the whole Internet Explorer for Apple users thing, which is why Mac/IE got to be such a problem. With no updates for Mac users, a huge carbuncle was formed. Suddenly, thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of users were no longer able to stay up-to-date with fast-changing web technology (unless they switched to a new browser, but you can’t expect people to do =that= can you?). With no updates available, they just kept plodding along using Mac/IE version 5.2 (or worse) to browse the internet. Web designers everywhere were forced to remember that these users exist and that sites must work for them because they were the victims of circumstance.

Or were they?

In 2000, Microsoft lost a huge antitrust lawsuit because IE was bundled with Windows and this was creating a monopoly for them. But in 2003, in a moment of fantastic irony, they announced that they would no longer update Mac/IE because there was no point in competing with a browser that comes with the OS (referring to Apple’s then-nascent web browser, Safari).

So what about all those Mac users who were browsing with IE? Well, they got hit twice. Not only did Microsoft cease support of Mac/IE, but Apple switched over to OSX and quickly vowed never to speak of Mac Classic again.

The new victims are the web designers; forced to hack their code together with digital duct tape and unglamorous solutions just to make sure their web sites display (and operate) properly for those people who happen to be using an antiquated, obsolete, doubly-unsupported browser.

Well, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore! Arise, my brethren! Shrug off the shackles of Mac/IE and look to the dawn of a new time! A new era of creativity! A world in which our code can be as beautiful and artistic as the pages we design. For, today, we tell Mac/IE users to piss off!

Why are we still writing code for them? If both Microsoft and Apple have turned their backs on Mac/IE, why shouldn’t we? Safari and Firefox (and several others) are infinitely better and both available! What are Mac/IE users waiting for, a gilded invitation? At a time when so much is so close at hand, why do we resist the temptation to reach out and take it?

Web 2.0 is here. Ajax is here. Mac/IE is holding us back with its puppy-dog eyes, but just like Old Yeller, Mac/IE is sick and it’s time we did the only humane thing left: take it out back and shoot it. Or something like that. At any rate, from this day forth, I pledge to never again program a page that contains workarounds for Mac/IE.

Why did I choose today to stop supporting Mac/IE? Because today is the first day that Microsoft officially no longer supports Mac/IE =at all=. Up until yesterday, some downloads were still available, but today? Well, today is our day.

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  1. Garry Schafer

    Hey – saw a recent post on videothing about the Snorricam and you getting info on how to make it from Sean? Feel like passing that along?


  2. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    The companies in question have certainly moved past the Mac/IE era…there are just so many retard-users who have not. I can’t tell you how many times during the day I field tech calls that start, “I’m running OS X and every time I try to go to the internet–” “what browser are you using?” “Uh, Internet Explorer”. GOD! WHY!? “Oh, I thought that’s what you had to use”

    That’s the problem. People switching from Windows, of which there are a lot, just ASSUME they must continue using IE because they don’t know any better. And, IE comes bundled with Mac OS X (well, maybe not anymore, but it did for a long time).

    The one thing you can count on is: anyone in the Seattle area who has ever talked to me and is using IE isn’t using IE anymore. I’m with you my brother. One idiot at a time.

  3. Not even renders correctly on Mac/IE. Har.

  4. And that’s exactly my point; when the software becomes, more or less, abandonware, you can’t expect people to make concessions for it.

    That’s interesting that people think you have to use IE. Someone should make a PSA.

  5. nr

    IE 5 for the mac is still widely used by people who can’t or won’t upgrade to OSX, because they really don’t have any other ‘modern’ browser available to them (there may be an old Mozilla browser that works in OS 9, but they were all a little buggy if I recall correctly). It was the best browser available on any platform when it came out, and I am sad that Microsoft abandonned it.

    There are some IE-only sites that work with IE 5 but not Safari or Firefox, which is why I keep it around, in addition to testing my websites.

    That being said, I generally don’t worry about sites looking ugly in IE 5 Mac, as long as the information is available.

  6. And overall, I agree. It’s a shame that Microsoft decided to screw Mac users out of the ability to access certain sites (like most financial institutions) by no longer supporting/updating Mac/IE.

    To be fair, however, you can’t really blame Microsoft. If you’re a Fortune 500 company (for example), =YOU= (the company) have a responsibility to ensure that all users will be able to access your online content. It’s in your best interest! And yes, you may have to hire a couple of extra web devs, but so what? You owe it to your customers. Accessibility isn’t just for the disabled…

    And yes, as hard as it is to believe, there was a time when Mac/IE 5 was the best browser out there. Now it seems like every version of IE has major problems (which is not to say that other browsers are perfect).

    At any rate, I’m not looking back and I’m not going to apologise to any Mac/IE users.

  7. Right on.

    Just back in December (2005), I had to tell my great-uncle that his browser, IE/Mac of one flavor or another, wasn’t up to snuff anymore. (One of the only pages I saw him use had a messed-up layout in IE/Mac.)

    He uses Safari now.

  8. Does your domain happen to be named after a Carbon Leaf song, by chance?

  9. Good job. What you may or may not realize is that if MS makes a good IE7 that’s bad. If MS makes IE7 a good, standards compliant, secure, etc. browser and it does well that could mean the death of web standards in the long run. MS will, once again, stop with web standards until Fx gets more users, once again. Oh well…

  10. Alan – Nope, and it’s not named after the film, either. One day I just thought, “Hey, that would be a cool domain,” and after a little thumb-twiddling (someone else already owned the domain), I was able to buy it.

    Alex – Not necessarily. I mean, yeah, history tends to repeat itself, but it’s usually more of a, “once bitten, twice shy” sort of thing. It’s unlikely that they’d make the same mistake twice.

    That having been said, I’d like to see everyone stop using IE all together, as I doubt they’ll ever get it right.

    All I know is, they had better fix their wonky box model.

  11. Did it, done it, doing it tomorrow.

  12. It must be getting near half a decade or so since OS 9 shipped with a mac – surely those old computers will be kicking the bucket soon, so we shouldn’t have to be nice to them for too much longer. It’s the OS X users with IE in their dock that we need to worry about – they could go on using it for years and years to come!

    Maybe someone should start some kind of ‘stop using Mac IE’ campaign. I mean these people have Safari sitting on their Macs anyway!

  13. I’m telling you, if someone pays for the airtime, I’ll make the spot.

  14. Not only are MS and Apple not supporting it, at least one of the biggest web companies in the world doesn’t bother to make their pages work in Mac IE.

    Check out Yahoo!’s article on Graded Browser Support. IE<5.5 (for mac and all others) is a C-Grade Browser. That means that we don’t bother making sure that they get anything other than just raw content.

  15. Thanks for those great links, Isaac!

  16. Well, i guess i was blessed not to ever own a mac or work for a big company. I’ve been designing for more or less 3 years and never ever even thought of supporting that.

    For me its like this: by doing that i offend the 90 something percent of people that DO have a brain and are not using that crap 😉

    I mean, if we keep treating everybody like they have an iq of 50 they will eventually behave or even become that, no?

  17. Actually I’m lying. I did once think of that and after about half an hour of documentation i had a good laugh and passed to the next issue.

  18. I agree that we should force people to learn how to update (even if it means they’re temporarily confused). The problem is that companies have a responsibility to their clients, regardless of what technology they’re using.

    Which is ass. Because people are dumb.

    I recently read an article on ALA talking about just this sort of thing.

  19. Eric

    I am sure by “Mac/IE Users” you’re referring to “Users of Internet Explorer for Mac” and not “Mac and Internet Explorer Users.” 😉 Actually, I agree. IE for Mac should be taken out back and shot like a lame horse.

  20. Eric

    Oh, and I never bother checking my sites on IE4Mac anymore. Those seven users left using it are probably used to websites looking odd. Who really cares about them anymore?

  21. Arne

    nr: What about iCab 3?

  22. not likely

    typical bloody techie response! – “it’s the users fault for not knowing better! it’s the users fault for not upgrading!”

    Y’know – there’s a reason people like you don’t get laid.

  23. Typical internet troll! “I didn’t read what you wrote, but I’m going to flame you anyway!”

    Never once did I say that it’s the users’ fault for not knowing better. In fact, I blame Microsoft and the web design community as a whole for facilitating the mis-education of the general public.

    I =WANT= to educate the users. I want users to know what standards are and why their browser of choice should be one that complies with those standards. By no means am I blaming the users for their lack of knowledge.

    Like I’ve always said, if the majority of the class is failing, the fault lies with the teacher.

    As for the quip about me not getting laid, I won’t indulge you with a response beyond this one. After all, this blog is fucking family oriented. -)

  24. dc

    Arne: iCab 3 is a great idea. It’s what I’ve been recommending to all the OS9 people who come to me with browser problems. Only issue is, it’s $30. But for the only modern browser that runs in OS9, that might be worth it.

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