IE7 Tax – About time?

An australian online retailer has made news by charging customers a tax if  browsing the site using Internet Explorer 7 (IE7).  This is to recoup costs incurred by his development team in trying to get the site working in IE7.

To some, this may be somewhat extreme, as a developer I can see where he is coming from.

As time passes, the number of browsers we have to ensure our sites work in increases, yet when Firefox or Chrome release updates, we can target their latest versions, but when it comes to IE, we have to go as far back as IE6. Throw mobile browsers into the mix and you have a long list of platforms and browsers to test on for what could be a very small code change. Someone has to absorb this cost, and for a long time it has been the developer.

I know some agencies charge according to browser support, I have in the past when doing sites for the NHS charged extra since the departments which ultimately use the sites were primarily IE6 users. Another project which targeted schools across the UK also have a requirement for IE6, which again I made sure I included in my quote.

When embarking on any project, as a bare minimum, I target all major release versions of popular browsers for both the mac and pc. If special circumstances warrant older versions, I include a cost for this.

I realise, for some, upgrading is a trivial task, yet for others (e.g. NHS) it is a major upheaval. But a line has to be drawn as to what, as developers, we can include as part of a quote.