When an automatic update hits Windows, it updates all software to the latest, stable version. When you update Linux, it does the same.

Why should I worry about writing code for older browsers when designing sites if system updates typically update browsers to the latest version?

  • Yes. Because When an automatic update hits Windows, it updates all software to the latest, stable version. is simply incorrect. It is only updated as far as you have paid for. How old should you go? As far back as is practical. For example, enough people are still using XP and IE8 that it makes sense that your code would be compatible. The good news is this, there is little to consider in this case and almost nothing at all to consider for 3rd party browsers since these can be updated. – closetnoc Aug 7 '15 at 22:28
  • What browsers you need to support can be guesstimated to a certain extent by your perceived target audience. – MrWhite Aug 7 '15 at 22:56
  • @closetnoc When you say "only updated as far as you have paid for", are you referring to XP users stuck at IE8 because their company cannot afford the hardware upgrade to 64bit? – Gunn Aug 8 '15 at 20:47
  • That is one way of putting it. Or it can be users like myself with an HP Mini Netbook that I use for a client with many Java based applications for data mining, CAD/CAM, DBA, OWL, Mindmaps, and other similar tools that all work great but the OS is Windows XP and there is no need to pay hundreds for an upgrade that does nothing for me. Just on principle, I avoid giving Microsoft any more money. Remember one thing. This unit was supposed to have Vista, but because of complaints, they installed XP instead and then retired XP and never gave an upgrade to what I paid for. – closetnoc Aug 8 '15 at 23:20

Number one reason: To earn a mass audience.

I'm still using older software along with two web browsers that sometimes I have to switch in-between because the developer adds code to the website that is incompatible with one browser.

Consider people who are in countries that don't have access to the latest hardware and software (yet). You'll want to support their browsers as well.

If however, you only want a small group to access your site, then it may be ok to make it only compatible to newer browsers.

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  • Another thing the OP can do is use Google Analytics to see what browsers and OSes that hit his site. There is always a clear cut-off, however, I found that that cut-off is usually fairly acceptable. I see XP with IE 8 and very rarely IE 7. As you pointed out along with w3d, it depends upon the audience. One tactic is to really pay attention to keeping things simple. Even JavaScript code can be simple enough to do a good job and still work okay in most all browsers assuming that the user is not so far off version. HTML and CSS is a breeze generally. – closetnoc Aug 8 '15 at 0:11
  • GA is a great idea, the only problem is that it tracks all the bots that crawl your sites. Unless you have a black hole for bad bots coded into your site, which I have no experience with, the data can be deceptive. – Gunn Aug 8 '15 at 20:52

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