What is the cost of supporting IE8?
The cost of developing a site to be IE8 compatible has increased with the popularity of HTML5 and mobile phone development.
When IE8 (Internet Explorer 8) was released in early 2009, it came at a time when HTML5 and mobile phone development was starting to gain traction. Unfortunately due to the timing, IE8 really didn't support either technology.
As a result, the development strategies used to support mobile phones and HTML5 performance enhancements, causes direct conflict with the lack of support from IE8. Thus, one method of development is used to support mobile phones and HTML5 whilst little quirks and bugs need to be addressed individually to support IE8.
Note*: Internet Explorer 10 uses a different rendering engine to IE8. This means, trying to test IE8 using the compatibility mode in IE10 has volatile and inaccurate results. To test IE8 accurately, one now must be running a native version of IE8.
This means more hours are spent debugging IE8 and an increase in the cost of development. In some cases an additional 30% of development time is required. But is it worth it?
Who still uses IE8?
On Windows XP, IE8 is the latest version of Internet Explorer that is supported. However, Microsoft is ending support for XP on April 8th 2014.
For Windows 7, Microsoft made Internet Explorer 10 an important update during March 2013 which means those on Windows 7 and Windows 8 are likely to be running IE10.
According to Stat Counter, IE8 is used by 8.89% of the population, however NetMarketShare suggests it is more like 21.5%. The reason for the discrepancy in numbers is that Stat Counter tracks the number of pages visited whilst NetMarketShare tracks the number of unique visitors.
It is important to note that IE8 was very popular in China but is seeing a rapid decline in recent times.
When deciding if IE8 should be supported, it is best to look at the existing stats for your site to see what percentage of users are running IE8. If you are building a new site, it is important to assess your demographic and gauge the percentage of users that may be accessing your site via IE8. It may not be worth the additional cost to be supported.