I'm a web developer. I most often come across this critical situation when the website layout fits with the design when run on Windows 7 or 8 and Mobile Operating Systems (Android, iOs, Windows 8).

But when the website is visited by old operating systems like Windows XP and Windows 1998 the whole layout collapses very badly. And specially when visited on old operating systems with Internet Explorer.

If we take into account the old operating systems (and/or IE on them) it creates havoc for us. Sometimes, even the well supported front-end frameworks like Twitter Bootstrap give up there and won't support the older browsers.

When clients or management request to make the website compatible with all the OS out there including Win XP, how to address this?

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    Look at your web server logs and determine if a high enough percentage of your traffic is using antique hardware/software. – Dan Pichelman Sep 3 '14 at 15:10
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    Do you have requirements (from any stakeholders - users, customers, business or regulatory agencies) that say you need to support these particular OSes and versions of browsers? Is there a true need to support OSes and browsers that are end-of-life and no longer supported by the releasing organization? – Thomas Owens Sep 3 '14 at 15:10
  • We don't know your user base. In general nobody I know would care for Windows98 (wtf? really?). XP maybe, but at least expect people to run some recent browser version if that is possible. That said in some places and some companies are various restrictions and limitations that make it difficult or impossible to update. If that's a large part of your customers you will have to find ways. Maybe have different versions of your site? – thorsten müller Sep 3 '14 at 15:10
  • If my time in support roles has taught me anything, it is that the volume of the noise doesn't always match the importance of the problem. Obviously, the failure of the site is catastrophic for that user but you need to consider what the majority of the users are using. For those on legacy software, gently guide them to greener pastures. – Robbie Dee Sep 3 '14 at 15:46
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    related: bbc.com/news/technology-29012038 - but even Google does not block old browsers completely, they only reduce functionality. – Doc Brown Sep 3 '14 at 16:47

All examples here are picking on IE 6. Feel free to mentally swap it with Gingerbread or whatever software you are dealing with when reading this.

The larger the set of systems that you need to deal with, the more development and testing it will take. This includes resources like actualizing having a machine that still runs IE 6 (for those holdouts).

As such, there is a cost and return that need to be factored in. Saying "oh yea, it still needs to support IE 6" is not free.

Now, once you realize there is a cost associated with it this becomes a question for the managers and clients to answer - "are you willing to spend ${money} and ${time} more to have it support ${old os}?"

When asking this question you should have the information about the estimates for the additional cost that you will incur supporting the system. Furthermore, have the information about the current market share using your service. Dig through your logs and see how many requests are actually coming from the ancient software today.

It's quite possible that your boss or client will say "yes, we want you to support that and are willing to spend the extra time and money to do so" in which case you're doing it - thats what the requirements are.

Your job is to make sure that this decision is fully informed both on the cost and reward.

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  • Very well thought and answered. Thank you for clearing this out for me once and for all :) – Syntax Error Sep 3 '14 at 19:14
  • @OMI note that with this set of tags, many of the related questions to the right (tags are a key part to selecting them) are quite appropriate additional material for you to read for your problem. – user40980 Sep 3 '14 at 21:46

This absolutely depends on your individual needs and your audience. If you're targeting a largely well-off audience, you can write off old versions pretty freely. If your audience includes a lot of people with older equipment (lower income people, older people, people in the developing world, etc.) you may still find you need to support IE 7 on Windows XP in order to reach everyone. If you're targeting corporate audiences, you will need to put a premium on IE 8 support, because a lot of big companies still require their employees to use it. If you're leaning towards a tech-savvy audience, you may not want to bother with the limitations IE 8 creates.

Thankfully, non-IE browsers, following Chrome's lead, generally strongly push users to upgrade to the latest version, so except in very weird circumstances, testing in old versions of Chrome or Firefox is usually unnecessary.

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  • Yep I agree Sir. This solely depends upon your preferences and requirements. – Syntax Error Sep 3 '14 at 19:19

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