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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy since 1977

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The Final Word on IE6

A friend of mine recently asked the ques­tion “Why the Hate on Inter­net Explorer 6?” He explains some very log­i­cal rea­sons why it doesn’t make sense to be so neg­a­tive about IE6, and as I agree with him on just about all points, I thought I’d give the clear­est answer I could.

Sim­ply put, IE6 shouldn’t get any hate. Nor should it receive any love, either.

The best thing the web stan­dards com­mu­nity (and any other smart web folk) can do is stop com­plain­ing about an ancient browser whose devel­oper waited too long to replace, and just stop sup­port­ing it altogether.

One of the ben­e­fits of web stan­dards is that our doc­u­ments are marked up cor­rectly before we reach the pre­sen­ta­tional stage. One of the ben­e­fits of IE6 (et al) is that we can tar­get spe­cific ver­sions using Con­di­tional Com­ments. The com­bi­na­tion of the two means we can still send our con­tent to old browsers, but not have to bother with the pre­sen­ta­tion, thus sav­ing our­selves hours of need­less headaches and frus­tra­tions, while not pun­ish­ing the users of said old browsers by deny­ing them access to our content.

There’s con­stant dis­cus­sion about whether or not to con­tinue sup­port for IE6, and the only rea­son ever given these days in favor of sup­port­ing that browser is its mar­ket share. That mar­ket share is dimin­ish­ing, and we’ve already reached the sec­ond beta of IE8, so let’s start drop­ping it already. Make the argu­ment against sup­port­ing IE6, to your clients, your boss, your team—whoever needs to hear it, keep apply­ing pres­sure and don’t back down.

It’s time to stop sup­port­ing IE6. Period.


This arti­cle has very kindly been trans­lated to Serbo-Croatian lan­guage by Jovana Miluti­novich from Webhostinggeeks.com.

This item was posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

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55 comments on “The Final Word on IE6

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  1. Posted by Wade Winningham on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    While I agree with you to an extent, I base my own deci­sion as to whether or not to sup­port IE6 on the audi­ence of a site. I’m cur­rently pri­mar­ily doing intranets or extranets and I have to go by what the users of those sites use. One site has a fair num­ber of IE6 users, who are still on Win­dows ME and unlikely to get upgraded any­time soon.

    Luck­ily, most of these are apps with sim­ple designs and once they work in IE7, tend to work with only minor adjust­ments in IE6. I def­i­nitely leave IE6 for last and am not overly con­cerned if some­thing is a lit­tle off as long as the func­tion­al­ity is there. So while I can’t com­pletely stop sup­port­ing it, I try to give it as lit­tle atten­tion as possible.

  2. Posted by Travis Beck on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    I can’t wait until the day that IE6 finally dies for good. But it’s going to take a major cam­paign on part of the devel­op­ment com­mu­nity to finally put an end to it. As well as an edu­cated user base to finally switch or upgrade. I recently launched my site and it was heav­ily fea­tured in sev­eral CSS gal­leries, so I fig­ured, given the user base it was exposed to, that I wouldn’t see very many instances of IE6 in my logs. To my sur­prise about 40% of users were on IE and about 60% of those were IE6 users. I was kind of shocked, but relieved to see that FF was on top at 50% over­all. We’re mak­ing progress; it’s just going to be a long haul.

  3. Posted by Michael on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    Many of my large clients report IE6 usage any­where from 20% — 33%. There are many rea­sons for this, and may users can­not upgrade eas­ily or at all.

    Until IE6 is under 2%, we owe it to our audi­ence to sup­port it.

  4. Posted by Elliot Jay Stocks on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    *cough cough* Death to IE6, did some­one say? ;)

  5. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    @Wade: What I’ve been doing lately is telling clients that IE6 sup­port isn’t included by default, and if they really want it (e.g. if enough of their users still use IE6) it is an extra fee, and that it doesn’t include full sup­port for fea­tures that *can’t* be sup­ported in IE6, but can in newer browsers (mostly design-related choices). So it’s still a con­tex­tual deci­sion, but I expect design­ers and devel­op­ers to be intel­li­gent enough to know when to enforce the rule and when to bend a little :)

    @Travis: Like I said to Wade above, it’s con­tex­tual to be sure: about 7% of my vis­i­tors today use IE6, and that’s been drop­ping steadily over the last 2 years. For my clients, I make sure to eval­u­ate their stats and make the proper rec­om­men­da­tion to them, though IE6 sup­port is still con­sid­ered addi­tional work and is charged as such. But I think it needs to be explicit that devel­op­ers start drop­ping sup­port visu­ally, while retain­ing as much func­tion­al­ity as pos­si­ble (by using pro­gres­sive enhance­ment), mak­ing it clear to users of IE6—which, in a cor­po­rate envi­ron­ment, also means the IT staff—that its time has come.

    @Michael: Like I just said in response to Travis, the IT staff (in my expe­ri­ence) is respon­si­ble for push­ing upgrades, so if enough web apps and sites that cor­po­rate users might need to use start requir­ing IE7 or bet­ter for full func­tion­al­ity, that will give IT enough rea­son to rec­om­mend an upgrade. I’ve seen it before as a tech in the past, and I know it will be the same with this issue.

    @Elliot: *cough* indeed :) Just try not to hate the browser or the folks who built it: it is, after all, just old, and it’s more the respon­si­bil­ity of IT man­agers and Microsoft to push upgrades, not the major­ity of users (in this case).

  6. Posted by brian warren on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    Great idea Dan. I like the option of mak­ing IE6 an opt-in fea­ture for clients.

    I like the point that you make that the bur­den isn’t on the users, it’s on the IT man­agers and MS to fos­ter progress. And let’s not for­get what a huge step for­ward IE6 was from 5.5. And double-points to MS mak­ing IE7 an auto­matic update.

    Now let’s start see­ing some fea­tures like multi-columns and border-radius make their way into IE8. Progress, hurrah!

  7. Posted by Wade Winningham on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    @Dan: I think you’re solu­tion is per­fect. Charge extra for it if it’s desired. That way you’re not shut­ting the door com­pletely, just get­ting paid for the extra time you know it’s going to take. At the min­i­mum it brings up the dis­cus­sion before you’re fin­ished with the project.

  8. Posted by Nate Klaiber on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    I think your response is one of the bet­ter responses I have seen. It’s easy for us as devel­op­ers to get upset and throw it out the win­dow in frus­tra­tion, but we have to remind our­selves that it is still some­thing we have to work with/consider depend­ing on the con­text of our projects.

    It’s easy to whine and com­plain, and edu­cat­ing isn’t always easy. I think your route, where you charge extra and can show why you are charg­ing extra, helps elim­i­nate the whin­ing and com­plain­ing (you will be paid for the extra blood, sweat, and tears), and it helps with the edu­ca­tion, as clients can now see why IE is a poor browser choice and the rea­sons behind it (from a busi­ness perspective).

  9. Posted by Chris Fullman on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    You’re right, this was def­i­nitely bet­ter as a response/post than a sim­ple com­ment on my blog! :)

    I’m all on board for peo­ple to some com­plain­ing about the browser itself (espe­cially when they have the ten­dency to con­tin­u­ally com­pare it to today’s browsers) and instead focus their frus­tra­tions on giv­ing their users a valu­able, legit­i­mate rea­son for end­ing sup­port for IE6 and get­ting them to upgrade.

    Just because we think the browser sucks (now) does not mean the browser was bad to begin with: my men­tal­ity in the mat­ter is that IE6 did what it was sup­posed to when it was launched and up until Fire­fox 1.0 was launched, when a bet­ter option was pub­licly avail­able. (As I noted in my post, up until Fire­fox 1.0 was released, there really were no other viable alter­na­tive options as Netscape was already dead and the Mozilla Suite was dying.)

    Now it’s time to move on. We can’t push the remain­ing 25% of users that still have IE6 as their browser of choice over to a newer browser just because we as a devel­op­ment com­mu­nity think “it sucks” and “some things may be bro­ken on our site until you upgrade.” We need to give them an actual rea­son to upgrade.

  10. Posted by Andy on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    We’re putting a quote together for a quite a large site, and are charg­ing extra for 100% visual com­pli­ance in IE6. I’m up for the idea of drop­ping a fairly sim­ple IE6 only stylesheet so it looks pass­able and, as you say, not pun­ish the user by still giv­ing them access to content.

  11. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    @Brian: While I’d love to see what we all con­sider “proper” CSS sup­port make it into IE8, I’m also not hold­ing my breath—just like the “issue” of the bro­ken page icon, it’s not really Microsoft’s pri­or­ity to make us happy. We’re an incred­i­bly small per­cent­age of the mar­ket for them, and on top of that I’m bet­ting that many peo­ple who com­plain about IE’s stan­dards sup­port don’t even use Win­dows (XP or Vista) as their oper­at­ing sys­tem. Where is MSFT’s busi­ness jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for mak­ing us happy at all?

    @Nate: I’ve con­tributed my share of whin­ing about IE6, but that’s ulti­mately a waste of time. The sooner we all move on and start doing things that will even­tu­ally result in change, the better.

    @Chris: amen brother, amen.

    @Andy: the next step is to see if your clients are ok with *no* visual sup­port for IE6, and just hide the stylesheets from it and older versions.

  12. Posted by Patrick Haney on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    It’s all well and good to say “let’s stop sup­port­ing IE6” or “let’s charge clients more for IE6 sup­port”, but the prob­lem here is for those of us who don’t really have a choice. Free­lancers and design agen­cies can pick their clients, but sup­port teams and design groups within com­pa­nies and (in my case) uni­ver­si­ties are stuck deal­ing with up to 25% of its user base still brows­ing with IE6. Whether it’s Microsoft spe­cific web appli­ca­tions (ActiveX is not your friend) or com­puter labs that haven’t been upgraded, some design­ers have to keep IE6 in the equa­tion when it comes to HTML and CSS.

    On the other side, I think it’s our job as lead­ers in our field to push for the adop­tion of IE7 and IE8 sooner than later. Start doc­u­ment­ing the time it takes you to add IE6 sup­port into your web­sites and web appli­ca­tions. Ask clients why they’re using IE6 and rec­om­mend that they seri­ously think about upgrading.

    The time to stop sup­port­ing IE6 is over­due in my opin­ion, but it won’t be real­ity until we all step up and force the issue. Let’s tell our clients, our users, and even our bosses why we shouldn’t be sup­port­ing a piece of soft­ware that’s now over 7 years old and is full of bugs. Let’s make it happen.

  13. Posted by Jon Aizlewood on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    Keep the momen­tum going! I’ve just writ­ten an arti­cle on this exact topic — http://www.carbongraffiti.com/2008/09/03/the-reverse-tipping-point-say-goodbye-ie6/. Get­ting guys like you to prove that you’re con­sid­er­ing drop­ping IE6 sup­port is cru­cial to start­ing the ball rolling.

  14. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    @Patrick: very good point about in-house departments—people can still tar­get IT depart­ments at uni­ver­si­ties et al, since ulti­mately they are the folks who need to pro­vide the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for what­ever invest­ment is required to make the upgrades a reality.

    @Jon: The more the merrier :)

  15. Posted by Matt Robin on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    I’m def­i­nitely going that way (stop­ping sup­port for IE6) — I still con­di­tional com­ment for it at the moment though. What con­cerns me more is that IE7, now wide­spread in use, became far more buggy when launched than antic­i­pated, and the soon to be released IE8 could also go the same way (although I hope it doesn’t). What I mean is that non-support for IE6 is prob­a­bly much less of an issue than the sup­port for cur­rent and new ver­sions of IE.

  16. Posted by Dan Rubin on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008.

    @Matt: I rarely have issues with IE7 from a CSS per­spec­tive, things seem to just work 99% of the time, espe­cially using Eric Meyer’s CSS Reset (but even with­out reset­ting styles it’s been decent).

    Obvi­ously we’ll still have to sup­port IE7 and IE8, but the amount of time it will require will be much lower than with pre­vi­ous versions.

  17. Posted by icaaq on Thursday, September 4th, 2008.

    A sug­ges­tion to your sug­ges­tion is that you make it clear for the the clients that instead of sit­ting hours and hours to fix ie6-bugs that time can be used to make bet­ter enhance­ments for the stan­dard­saware broswers. That’s if they have a bud­get for the project and needs to decide what to do with the money.

  18. Posted by Mark on Monday, September 8th, 2008.

    Hey, I never thought of that; charg­ing extra for IE6-support.

    I had an idea as well: make stan­dard con­di­tional for IE6, which will show a box on top of the cre­ated web­site, stat­ing the per­son is using an out­dated browser, and should con­sider upgrad­ing to IE7/8, Fire­fox or Chrome.

    If one of the men­tioned browsers is being used, the css-box will be hidden.

  19. Posted by Bruno Miranda on Friday, September 12th, 2008.

    Hey Dan,

    This post and Nathan’s sprung the idea of cre­at­ing http://idroppedie6.com/

  20. Posted by Noel Hurtley on Saturday, September 13th, 2008.

    Great dis­cus­sion. I dropped sup­port for IE6 on my per­sonal sites about a year ago and I think I’m going to start charg­ing my clients extra to sup­port the ancient browser.

    Mark: I started doing this shortly after I dropped sup­port for IE6. Check out Veg­log in IE6 to see the spe­cial upgrade notice. I think it’s a clever solu­tion that empow­ers the user to make a more informed deci­sion about their browser.

  21. Posted by Chad on Monday, September 15th, 2008.

    IE6 should be death by March, or hope­fully earlier…

    http://iedeathmarch.org/

  22. Posted by mingz on Monday, September 22nd, 2008.

    The only good thing of IE is that it is the first to offi­cially sup­port XML­Re­questHttp() (ie5), which makes Ajax pos­si­ble. Other than that, its strange box model, securiry model and DOM model bring a lot of trou­ble to web design­ers. Per­son­ally, I would say IE is sucess­ful in mar­ket, but tech­ni­cally it is a piece of junk. I am very glad to see IE is fad­ing out, although clients pay more if they want com­plete cross-browser com­pat­i­bil­ity of website ;).

  23. Posted by Chris on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008.

    Our website’s users on IE6 are still in the 30–40% range. With mil­lions of pageviews per month, we can’t afford to lose any of those users because we “didn’t want to deal with IE6.” There are still com­pletely work­able solu­tions for IE6.

    There’s got to be a bal­ance between not show­ing any styles at all and try­ing to main­tain the exact visuals/functionality on all browsers and ver­sions. Any­one who says dif­fer­ent is just being lazy.

  24. Posted by Dan Rubin on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008.

    @Chris: I totally agree—expanding a bit more on what I said in my first com­ment, my stance for per­sonal sites and any projects that aren’t built for a client is that IE6 shouldn’t be sup­ported. For clients, I explain why they might not need to sup­port it, and that includ­ing sup­port will require extra time and that they will be charged accord­ingly. No one has had a prob­lem with this yet, and I’ve been using that approach for more than 2 years now.

    In many cases, IE6 works with­out any hacks or adjustments—I’m cer­tainly not advo­cat­ing remov­ing sup­port if it’s there, but extra effort should be bal­anced against need.

    The prob­lem with stat­ing a firm opin­ion pub­licly is that it loses its desired effect if you include an aster­isk and list out all the cases where you might not want to make such a bold state­ment. The assump­tion is that every­one read­ing this can still think for them­selves, and will con­tinue to make the best deci­sions for their clients and their audience.

  25. Posted by Chris on Tuesday, September 30th, 2008.

    @Dan I do feel your IE6 pain. Ah, if only I had time to work on “per­sonal sites and any projects that aren’t built for a client.”

    IE for Mac FTW

  26. Posted by Jonny Haynes on Tuesday, October 14th, 2008.

    Hi Dan,

    I totally agree with what’s been said, it should depend on the cir­cum­stance. If i get asked to build a site with IE6 sup­port, I always ask to see there stats if they have any — to prove that it’s worth it.

    I like Andy Clarke’s stance on IE6 sup­port or lack of it.

  27. Posted by jyoseph on Friday, October 17th, 2008.

    I love IE6!!! I want it to be re-released in a super-gold-platinum edition.

  28. Posted by Tony on Monday, October 20th, 2008.

    While I haven’t yet dropped IE 6, I spend much less time on it than I used to. Between JS frame­works doing the nitty-gritty of browsers for me and my ten­dancy to use IE con­di­tional stylesheets to just rip out fancy detail that doesn’t work in IE6 and replace it with some­thing much sim­pler, the pain of hav­ing to deal with IE is much reduced. Now all I need is for them to fin­ish and release IE8 so I can do the same thing to IE7.

  29. Posted by Phil L on Saturday, October 25th, 2008.

    The pri­mary rea­son why so many still use obso­lete soft­ware is because they sim­ply do not real­ize that it is obso­lete, let alone how really obso­lete it is.
    A major edu­ca­tional cam­paign geared toward “aver­age” end users is required, rather than just a lot of bitch­ing con­fined to a few rel­a­tively eso­teric devel­oper sites. And let’s face it, 75 per­cent of the “aver­age” browser-using pub­lic still thinks html is just an abbre­vi­a­tion for “hot­mail” ! And Microsoft soli­taire is still the major use of cyber-time for quite a few.….…
    What is needed is a cam­paign sim­i­lar to the 1970’s when automak­ers had to post lit­tle stick­ers all over the cars and gaspumps that noted the new requirements.…“Caution, Unleaded Fuel Only”.

  30. Posted by Adriaan on Thursday, October 30th, 2008.

    I hate IE6, but unfor­tu­nately can’t stop sup­port­ing it. I’m try­ing to help peo­ple to upgrade, by show­ing a warn­ing mes­sage on the top of my sites to IE6 users, with a cou­ple of links they can fol­low to get a bet­ter browser…

  31. Posted by Marty on Monday, December 15th, 2008.

    Let’s stop sup­port­ing the W3C stan­dard, prob­lems solved!!! Can any­one explain the box model??? If so, stop wais­ing your time float­ing and margin !!!

  32. Posted by Aaron on Sunday, December 21st, 2008.

    I’m very much in favour of mak­ing IE6 visu­ally dif­fer­ent as this will be all most peo­ple need to be forced up upgrade their browser. The cor­po­rate world I think will make a jump from IE6 to IE8 when it is fully launched, when this starts to roll out would be anyone’s guess.

    If peo­ple who build web­sites do noth­ing and say noth­ing about IE6 then noth­ing is going to hap­pen and we will be left spend­ing a ton of time fix­ing for IE.

    Roll on the day.

  33. Posted by Azeem on Sunday, December 28th, 2008.

    Although I like every other devel­oper agrees IE6 that should go — one very impor­tant point is I believe the devel­oper has absolutely no right to dic­tate what browser a user should or should not use. This is not the deci­sion of a developer.

    I fully agree with Chris who said we need to strive for a mid­dle ground where IE6 is sup­ported — but only to a rea­son­able extent. Unfor­tu­nately many of us don’t have that lux­ury — It would be sui­cide if I decided to even slightly stop IE6 sup­port for the com­pany I work for as our thou­sands sub­scribers could go to a com­peti­tor who does sup­port it — this is a risk that the man­age­ment would never take.

    There are 2 sides — From a stan­dards pro­gres­sion point of view I agree that we need to get as far away from IE6 as pos­si­ble and strive for a devel­op­ers utopia where we didn’t need to worry about such prob­lems and get on with the work — but sadly from a busi­ness point of view where money is at stake, sup­port­ing IE6 is always going to win. In the end it will always come down to money.

    Boss: “Will it cost us if we don’t sup­port IE6?”
    Dev: “Yes”
    Boss:”In that case we must sup­port IE6?
    Dev: “But it will take longer to develop”
    Boss:”Irrelevant — the money lost from IE6 exclu­sion will surely sur­pass the money spent on longer devel­op­ment”
    Dev: **cries**

    It’s a nec­es­sary evil.

  34. Posted by Dan Rubin on Sunday, December 28th, 2008.

    @Azeem: I com­pletely agree, as I’ve stated ear­lier in the com­ments — if the audi­ence requires IE6 sup­port, then we have to sup­port it. Agen­cies and free­lancers should charge for that extra sup­port how­ever; that is within their rights for spend­ing addi­tional time on that browser.

    It’s also worth point­ing to Jeremy Keith’s 24ways arti­cle The IE6 Equa­tion, as it directly dis­cusses what is meant by “sup­port” for IE6.

  35. Posted by Lieven on Monday, February 23rd, 2009.

    Final word on IE6” = best sen­tence ever.
    It’s just plain idiocy to claim that “That’s the way the web­coockie cum­bles”.
    Design should be able to deal with it’s bor­ders, but still, there’s a limit.

    Today, IE6 is past that limit.
    And I’m happy with it.

  36. Posted by Kids Wall Art on Saturday, March 7th, 2009.

    As a devel­oper, I still work for clients who live in the dark ages when it comes to com­put­ers (and inter­net browsers), and most of them still believe IE6 is the stan­dard web browser nowa­days. It’s a per­sonal mis­sion of mine to edu­cate them on why fire­fox is so much bet­ter or how IE has 2 newer ver­sions since 6.

  37. Posted by msn on Monday, March 16th, 2009.

    very good point about in-house departments—people can still tar­get IT depart­ments at uni­ver­si­ties et al, since ulti­mately they are the folks who need to pro­vide the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for what­ever invest­ment is required to make the upgrades a reality.

  38. Posted by VisitCafe on Monday, April 6th, 2009.

    IE 6 is a big enemy of web designer. Unfor­tu­nately, So many peo­ple still like this f**** browser

  39. Posted by Andy Stratton on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009.

    Nice post, Dan. I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to have clients (yay) but unfor­tu­nate enough that they want IE6 support.

    I’m hon­estly to the con­clu­sion that defin­ing sup­port as pixel-perfection for IE 6,…,IE 8 is only worth it if it’s within the client’s bud­get. It takes time, energy, expe­ri­ence to tweak a lot of the quirks.

    Edu­ca­tion is key. Scream­ing “Ugh that browser sucks” has yet to do any­thing for any of my clients; and ones in man­aged envi­ron­ments (schools/corporate offices) are ready to move to the next free­lancer at that point.

    I’m per­son­ally a big fan of some grace­ful degra­da­tion for older browser (or those that have lim­ited sup­port for CSS/JS/etc.). I’m firm on the notion that con­tent should be acces­si­bly deliv­ered to the user in a usable fash­ion, but if they want the good­ies, they need to upgrade ;]

  40. Posted by sebastien on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009.

    I’m french, sorry for my english :-/

    Hello Dan, i’m sorry but i have a ques­tion and i don’t find a response any­where.
    I want to write in the com­ments of my blog “2 weeks ago” or “3 days ago”, like you in your com­ments but i don’t know why do that. Could you help me please ? What is the code you use ?

    Thank you :-)

  41. Posted by Daniel Brashler on Friday, May 29th, 2009.

    8 months is a long run-time for a “last word” … but I can’t resist.

    I just now (again) updated a web­site with a fea­ture that required some spe­cial atten­tion to keep it func­tional for IE6. I’m afraid though, that despite any tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion and cajol­ing that knowl­edge­able users do, the stay­ing power of an included browser that was installed with a fairly sta­ble OS release from the most mono­lithic ven­dor in the indus­try isn’t likely to dis­ap­pear quickly. The sheer vol­ume of users whose sys­tems are sup­ported by inef­fi­cient, bureau­cratic and/or resource-strapped eval­u­a­tors and imple­men­tors of new tech­nolo­gies ensures a very long and slow turnover. At every oppor­tu­nity, you have to eval­u­ate the extent to which you can or should enable the old tech to con­tinue, and the extent to which you can push the new. You have to ride the line of main­tain­ing tech­ni­cal func­tion­al­ity for the old, while show­cas­ing the shiny new. Like Detriot.