Benefits of dropping IE8 support

Worldwide, Internet Explorer 8’s marketshare is decreasing rapidly. Don’t take my word for it though, I’ve done some research and found that most statcounters average on ~8.3%.

A noticeable trend is that IE8 usage is declining – fast. Of course this is a highly subjective matter and the true webstatistics you should go on are those of the project you’ll be working on next. That said, one should consider if it’s worthwhile to develop for a browser that will be considered dead in a matter of months. I realize that this might sounds like a lazy man’s argument, but hear me out. There are great benefits to dropping IE8 early.

1. Future proof

When building with outdated browser’s in mind, webdevelopers often find themselves stuck using all kinds of prehistoric half-baked techniques even though much nicer cleaner solutions are already widely available. What some clients don’t realize is that when they require “backward compatibility” they thereby neglect “forward compatibility”. If you look at the figures, outdated browsers are used far less then up-to-date browsers. To me it makes more sense to focus on the best user-experience for modern browsers and future browsers, even if that would mean dropping support for outdated ones.

2. Development cost

Bug wise IE8 isn’t half as bad as IE7, but there are still plenty of them to deal with. To illustrate this point, I’ll show you a ACID 3 test-comparison between IE8 and IE9:

“Acid 3 is a test page published and promoted by the Web Standards Project to expose web page rendering flaws in web browsers and other applications that render HTML” – Wikipedia

Dealing with these bugs take development time that might be better spent elsewhere. Clients should be made aware that a project cost and time-frame will be greatly influenced by the backward compatibility requirements that they set out from the start.

3. Technical liberation

And finally, the freedom factor. Things you can use today without hacks or polyfills if you decide to develop for IE9 upwards:

CSS
Opacity
Border-radius
Box-shadow
Better font-face webfont support
Transforms (rotating, scaling, etc)
CSS3 selectors like :nth-child(), :last-child, :first-of-type
Rem units (root ems)
Rgba, hsl, hsla
Background-clip, background-origin and background-size
Media-queries
Multiple backgrounds
Calc
HTML
HTML5 markup
Audio element
Video element
Canvas
SVG images
Javascript
ECMAScript 5
document.getElementsByClassName
window.getComputedStyle
Geolocation API
Navigation Timing API

My point? If at all possible, ditch IE8 in favour of clean code, maintainability and forwards compatibility.

Don’t forget jQuery 2.0. SVG in css backgrounds and more here: http://caniuse.com/#compare=ie+8,ie+9

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