I take your point that regardless of what I and others think, people still stick with old browsers and therefore have to be considered. I think companies that think an old browser is better for security are probably kidding themselves, I can't see the latest version of NS7 (which has been about long enough to clean up most of the bugs I'd say) is going to be LESS secure than NS4x. Where I work we use all IE (apart from the web team fo course!) and we do stick to IE5.5 for non WinXP machines (as that comes with IE6 anyway and theres no way to get rid of it). That maybe is a fairer point and it is IE afterall
I think you'd be surprised at what spec machine will actually run some browsers as well. NS seems to actually be the hungriest of them all, needing 64MB of RAM for version 7 I think. IE 6 though, Microsoft state, will run on a 486/66 (thats the processor we had when we got our first PC in about 1995), though a Pentium is recommended and 16MB Ram on Win98. I don't know how well thats going to run and it may well be that NS4 will run a bit faster on the same spec machine (though as I said, NS seems to be the hungriest!). With Opera it seems again, it only needs 16MB RAM and will run on Win95, doesn't specify a processor and it was very difficult even finding the specs!
One train of thought is that by ignoring older browsers when you design pages, they probably aren't going to look right in those older browsers. Which then would hopefully (!!) make the person upgrade to a newer browser.
Of course, if you can't take the risk that they will just moan, leave and not come back to your site, its null and void.
Interestingly though, and this is heading WAY off the original topic, of those people who code for older browsers to ensure you don't lose those few percent of people, how many of you follow the accessibility guidlines as well? Interesting in that, if your concerned about losing a few percent using old browsers, what do you think of a the few percent of visually/physically impaired people surfing?
Oh, as a little extra on the idea that its not as easy as I try and make out to have a current browser. For those people on dial up, Opera (once you've got Java installed) is about a 3MB download. Thats about 15 mins, maybe 25 tops to get.
And Grumpus, I'm glad you've seen the light
I think for a while IE and NS have been treading water a bit with their browsers. Each new version just has better standards support (not a bad thing by a long shot!) and looks a bit different. Opera have actually really tried to make the browser better and more functional. They started the tabbed browsing, I think they also started the Panels/sidebar thing (though I may have to attribute that to NS
), Mouse estures are a god send and it just generally work very very well I think! Sure theres a few bugs in version 7 still, but nothing to make me want to change to anything else, they also have a great name for security (though there have been a couple little scares recently, mopped up within a couple of days though). I've not bought it yet to get rid of the ad bar, but if I were going to pay for a browser, I'd probably pay for Opera.