Exactly four years ago, 19th of March, 2009 Internet Explorer 8 was released. At the time it suppose to support IE’s high market share, fighting competitors: Firefox 3, Opera 9.5, and Safari 4. Releasing new browser version in every one or two years was a standard practice, as Chrome had only hit it’s first stable version.
The browser offered better standards support, better performance, and improved user interface. No HTML 5, CSS 3 or other fancy stuff was around.
After four years this browser is at it’s sunset. It’s the only widely supported browser that can’t be called modern in any way. The last four years was a huge leap for web development, and IE 8 standart support is desperately behind. “The modern” interface wasn’t viable enough to survive into next version. The speed is not an advantage of this browser also.
So why is this ancient browser is still widely used? Mainly because it’s the latest IE you can get on Windows XP. As long as this operating system will keep it’s share, IE 8 will be around. But it’s not hard to switch to evergreen browser, and if you can help someone to make this switch, please do so.
Some companies already dropped support for IE 8. If this measure seems to early for you, at least consider a graceful degradation strategy for your websites. Don’t hold back the web.
Most of the web browsers have separate bleeding edge versions, which are pretty easy to install and try the latest awesome feature you’ve just read about. Browser vendors have a different approach to these versions, so let’s make a quick overview of the Big 5.
Chrome Canary is the latest version from the Dev channel (usually 2 version numbers ahead), which can be installed side-by-side with the stable (but won’t become the default browser, which is nice). Paul Irish wrote a nice summary about it.
You can check update notes at Chrome’s Blogspot. I would recommend setting it as Canary’s homepage.
Mozilla team releases Aurora version of Firefox (usually 2 version numbers ahead), which installs instead of the stable version. If you want to go even further, there is Nightly build which updates every night.
The changelog can be found at Aurora Notes.
Opera used to have the Next version for developers, but looks like it isn’t available anymore. Anyway, since Opera is moving to WebKit (and Chromium), there will probably be some kind of a preview version.
For previewing upcoming features in Safari, there is a WebKit Nightly build. The Windows version is being dead for around 5 monthes, but one for OS X should be in a good shape. Go ahead, install and play with it.
The development process of this veteran amoung the web browsers remains closed. The current 10th version was developed alongside with Windows 8 and preview versions were shipped with Windows Previews. Most likely there will be Internet Explorer 11, but there is no way to test it right now.
With all those shiny new versions in your hands, don’t forget to provide an adequate support for older browsers. Have a graceful degradation strategy to insure that all the most users will get the core functionality of your website.
There is good advice that everyone should blog. Whatever you do, there is always some fascinating things to share with the world. However, the hardest part is to start: there are so many paths and choices, it’s so easy to get lost. Feeling of perfectionism doesn’t help though: every option doesn’t seem right, and lack of experience makes you feel unconfident.
There were many easier solutions to start with, but I’ve choosed to go a long, hard, stupid way, and I’ve learned a lot already at very beginning. It was looking like I’ll never find the time and the courage to do it. If this were true, you wouldn’t be reading this lines.
Writing is hard. Designing is hard. It will take many iterations to become easier, but the first one is the hardest one: you make a step from nothing to something. I’ve made this step, and if someone doubts, he should make it too. And let the voice be heard.