When I wrote my previous post, I checked the stuff on some older web browsers too. Then I checked some other things as well. Here’s how well a few older browsers (that I happened to have at hand) display my websites.
That was the first completely free version of Opera. I had started using Opera in July 2004, when it was still ad-based, and never upgraded past 8.5, since its successors shed a few features I particularly liked. It was my main web browser for a few years, and I still use it for email, since it stores all the related data in its own folder and is therefore very easy to transfer to a new computer.
Opera 8.5 dates back to 2005. Its style sheet support is flawless, including the content property. The only thing on any of my pages that it doesn’t support is text-shadow, a CSS3 property that probably wasn’t even defined in 2005. I can say that Opera 8.5 displays everything correctly that I have designed myself. It cannot cope with this blog, and it fails at the Google +1 button. The Tweet button isn’t displayed correctly either, but should be functional.
Opera, by the way, is also still the only browser besides Internet Explorer that supports align with colgroup. The idea is that you can set the alignment (left, right, center) for one or more table columns instead of for each cell separately. This is a perfectly valid usage in HTML 4.01, but only these two browsers support it.
Internet Explorer 6.0
Old Internet Explorer versions are still used a lot, especially when the topic is old games. More then 10% of the downloads on Download Central are made with MSIE 6.0 or older, 5.0 being the most popular in this category.
Basically dating back to 2001, the exact version that I have is the one that comes with XP SP2, 2004. Style sheet support is mostly okay. The content property is not supported, and more importantly, positioning hardly ever works correctly. I’m currently experimenting with a navigation bar where the “back” link is aligned left, the “next” link aligned right, and the “up” link centered. I’ll have to hide that from older Internet Explorers, they screw it up horribly.
Another problem is PNG transparency. Simple transparency is fine, alpha transparency not. The problem is that even simple transparency in a direct color image (24-bit) is based on an alpha layer. It’s not a particularly important issue for me though, it only affects a few thumbnails on Download Central.
Internet Explorer 4.0
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Though it dates back to 1997, style sheet support is hardly worse than in 6.0! One small problem is with borders. On the Legal Crime page, it correctly put a border around the blockquote, but not the unordered lists. On the old Cello website, it didn’t put borders around the links which are thus not marked at all. Font size values are ignored for some tags, especially the body tag.
There are a few minor quirks, some could be corrected with a small edit in the style sheet. On the whole, there should be no problems with MSIE 4.0 on my sites.
BTW: If you want to run an older version of MSIE parallelly on Windows XP, you have to put an empty file with the name iexplore.exe.local into its directory.
This version is interesting because it was also the last 16-bit version of Opera released, in 2000. I tested the 32-bit version, but I don’t think there are any differences.
Style sheet support is a bit better than in MSIE 4.0, the fonts were always the right size. Positioning is nearly as screwed up however, and there is no way to hide these elements from Opera. PNG support is the same, no alpha transparency. Table layout can be problematic as well, background images for tables or table cells are not supported, column widths not correctly displayed, and iframes don’t work either. On the whole, MSIE 4.0 displayed my pages better.
This one’s just weird. Maybe it’s broken under Windows XP, but then it’s from 2002. It renders some pages perfectly (for example Playhouse Strippoker), but completely screws up others like Legal Crime or The Hidden Below. It doesn’t handle images that are aligned left or right very well, sometimes hides other things beneath them. It does not support transparency in PNGs, not even the palette ones. All I can say is: not recommended, not supported.
It does render Download Central passably however. On the whole this site has proved to have the most robust design.