Time to ditch IE5?

I was listening to a recent episode of one of my favourite podcasts, Boagworld, when Paul Boag asked a question that made me pause for thought: Now that Microsoft have dropped support for Windows 98, is it time to stop testing websites in IE5?

For those who haven’t heard already, Microsoft ended product support for Windows 98 and ME on the 11th of July. Since Windows XP ships with Internet Explorer 6 as it’s default web browser, it is reasonable to assume that the last bastion of IE5 and 5.5 users have been camping out on Windows 98, ME and 2000. Now that Microsoft has pulled the plug on two if those operating systems, can we as web developers wash our hands of them too?

The decision to stop testing in a certain web browser is not one to be taken lightly, and obviously it is worth consulting the traffic logs for your website first, to see what percentage of your visitors are still using legacy browsers like IE5 before making the leap.

According to thecounter.com, IE5 & 5.5 account for 2% of web traffic, which is probably an insignificant enough figure for many web developers to let these users slide off their radar. That doesn’t mean we can ignore their needs completely – just stop making a special effort to present them with the best possible visual experience. And if a client or employer needs convincing that IE5 is going the way of the dodo, the news that Windows 98 and ME have been scratched by Microsoft is bound to help your cause.