The 8th April was a quietly celebrated moment by all who have worked in the computer technology and web design fields. There was no fanfare, no ticker tape parade. For the majority of the people in the world, it passed like any other day.
For web and software designers and developers, however, it was a cause for great celebration, and a little concern.
Microsoft has finally stopped supporting the Windows XP operating system after 13 years. With it, went the web browser, IE8. This gave everyone on line and in the computing world the opportunity to follow suit and discontinue their support for these, and older versions of IE.
What's this mean for the average computer user and the developer and designer teams out there? Let's find out.
The average computer user.
If you happen to still be using Windows XP, you're going to have to upgrade your operating system... unless you happen to also live in China. If you live anywhere else, the only way is forward, or you could follow what 95% of the world's banking industry are probably doing and pay for support. If neither of these options sound good to you, you're going to need to get yourself a copy of a newer operating system and, possibly, a new computer if it doesn't have the power to deal with it.
Using Internet Explorer to surf the web? Unless you've progressed to something newer than IE8, you're going to have to update that as well. Many websites are not going offer support for anything older than Internet Explorer 8, with some of them proactively dropping IE9 as well. What are your options? You could change browser entirely, or upgrade to the latest version of Explorer.
This doesn't mean you're not going to be able to use these products now. It just means that any time you experience troubles with them, there's no help for it from official channels. For the less experienced user, this could cause no end of frustration and stress.
What's this mean for the website owner?
Your website suppliers don't need to invest time in testing for older browsers, and can reduce the time spent fixing issues that are only pertinent to a small percentage of audience. This means less issues, and more focus on modern browers.
The developer and designer teams out there.
We can now stipulate to clients that we will not support or code for these outdated browsers, unless they specify in their requirements. It also means that hours spent of refining browser specific design will decrease. Of course, it also means that our support call time will increase as disgruntled users phone in wanting to know this or that is "broken". Of course, you could, if you really wanted to, keep supporting these antiquated systems, but how much time will that take, and what is the likely return on your investment? Negligible.
How will the web look once the wake for XP and IE8 is over?
For those users who have been keeping up with the latest releases and using a more modern web browser and operating system, the web and their computer isn't going to look that much different at all. For those users who have been using XP and older IE versions, it's going to be an exciting adventure of discovery. The world, or at least the web, is going to become a beautiful place.
For designer and development teams out there, life is going to become easier and harder all at once. Harder because you'll have to field enquiries from people with a "broken" web experience, but easier because no longer will hours be spent beating your head against a keyboard wondering why something won't render correctly even though you've checked the code three times. Legacy support will become less of a focus, so we'll be able to keep on doing what we do best - make awesome online experiences for our clients and their audience.