No IE9 for Windows XP (or No HTML5 for Half the Planet)

1/10/2011  By David

HTML5 is all the rage for the future of the web. It frees us from slavery to third party plug-ins for video and audio.  It creates a more semantic markup so that search engines can better index your content.  It comes with built-in form validation.  Once all browsers support HTML5, websites will be able to do far more, with greater ease, and work on more platforms (mobile, tablets, etc.). As a developer, I have not been as excited about the future of the web since I first got into CSS.

Not all browsers support HTML5 yet. IE8 being the one that provides the least support. But most of the other major players - Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera - all provide pretty good support for most of HTML5's features (though none are complete). So we're really being held back until IE catches up.

It looks like IE9 will not only catch up, but leapfrog all the other browsers in HTML5 support. The W3C's tests are showing IE9 as the clear leader.  Given that IE is the single most widely used browser, this is wonderful news!

But many things are just too good to be true.

When IE9 is released, it will not be released for Windows XP.  Granted, Windows XP is old (released in 2001).  But it is still used by a lot of people.  According to Stat Counter, Windows XP currently holds 50% of the market worldwide and just over 35% in North America.  So a whopping 35% of the population on our continent won't be able to use IE9 unless they upgrade their operating system. Most businesses don't upgrade an operating system just for a new browser.  I imagine it may be awhile before the percentage of people who simply can't access IE9 dwindles to an inconsequential number.

There are workarounds for making much of HTML5 work in IE8 - and that's exactly what we do.  But the real benefits of HTML5 will come when it is fully native and just works.

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