Sometimes you have to wonder if we should re-think this whole software design thing. A reminder of just how over-their-heads some people are occurred recently with the story that Microsoft won’t be providing IE 9 for Windows XP. That’s right, if you’re not using Windows 7 by now, you are simply off the radar for browser upgrades.
The trouble, as all web developers know, is getting users to upgrade those browsers. Why is this always such a struggle? Older browsers are buggy, insecure, troublesome, and the hardest of all to develop for. We’ve gone for years like this, with a few hardy users getting the newest edition of everything, most of the crowd shuffling along within a year, and then there’s the die-hard long tail, bringing up the rear. They use IE7, IE6, even IE5.5, and you’ll get that old browser away from them when you pry it from their cold dead fingers. They make web designers pull out their hair.
Perhaps we have to make updates less frequent. Users of all software, be it Windows, Apple, or Linux, are familiar with software that has to be updated and patched at least a couple of times per year. But to the average user, they just don’t see the need. They buy a microwave or a DVD player, after all, which is good to use for ten years or more. What’s wrong with a web browser that they have to build a new one every six months?
We know that, but there’s a vast user wasteland out there that will never understand why.