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Microsoft posts countdown to kill off Internet Explorer 6

updated 06:10 pm EST, Fri March 4, 2011

Microsoft uses countdown to help axe IE6

Microsoft took the uncharacteristic step of goading users to drop one of its products on Friday. The Windows developer's countdown page encourages users to stop using Internet Explorer 6 and tracks the progress towards ending its use. It admitted that its attitude towards the web was different in 2001 and that its at times infamous IE6 rendering engine was now a liability.

"Now that we're in 2011, in an era of modern web standards, it's time to say goodbye," Microsoft said. "This website is dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than 1% worldwide, so more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers."

The company is drawing on the most recent Net Applications data and showed that it still a long time to go. While the Americas, Africa, Europe, Russia and the south Pacific were mostly clear, southeast Asia still had many clinging on. China's tendency to cling to aging PCs meant 34.5 percent of Internet Explorer users were still using IE6, but even the Internet-centric and more affluent South Korea still had 24.8 percent.

Along with forcing developers to write special exceptions in their websites, the browser is much less secure than newer versions. The lack of anti-phishing, sandboxing and other elements has often meant IE6 computers could be used as attack vectors for botnets, trojans and other malware by using exploits that are now a decade old.

The company's Internet Explorer 9 is one of its more dramatic reversals. It now follows web standards from the W3C very closely and was relatively accurate even in previews. Microsoft has also focused on supporting HTML5 and on focusing on the performance of web-standard JavaScript where it previously had a reputation for letting the code languish in favor of proprietary technologies like ActiveX.

Microsoft's initial complacency on the web effectively ceded much of the market to competitors. Mozilla's Firefox now has a quarter of web traffic where Google Chrome is almost 11 percent and Apple is now significantly over 6.4 percent. Most don't expect Internet Explorer to return to its earlier near-monopoly state, but dropping IE6 and promoting IE9 may help it avoid bleed from customers looking for more advanced browsers.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    About Time

    It's about *$&#%* time.

    Now if only they'd done this about, oh, eight years ago, I might not have developed the deep-seated, virulent, gut-level hatred of Microsoft that I now have as a result of countless maddening hours completely wasted trying to get decent web designs to function with IE6's longstanding and never-fixed bugs.

    Bugs that if MS hadn't been dead-set on locking the world in to their browser back in the browser wars, they'd have fixed within a year. Heck, half the bugs were left over from IE5.

    Only took them the intervening eight years of steady slide into decreasing relevance and complete abandonment by the professional web developer community for them to admit to it, which I suppose is the first step to getting help.

    Personally, I'll take that hatred to my grave, no matter what the company does from now on--I'll never get those hours of my life back. And if you calculate, worldwide, the number of hours--a lot of them billable--since 2003 that have been spent working around IE6 bugs, MS has a whole lot of wasted productivity to atone for before you even factor in the stagnation of web services caused by them not even starting on IE7 until Firefox scared them.

  1. facebook_Justin

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Mar 2011


    comment title

    Lol, 2.9% in USA. Probably same people that use Android!

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Stop using Windows 7

    Maybe it's time to urge Windows users to really do it without walls—no walls, no Windows.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Seems like an odd place for a jab at Android--if anything, the geeky types who are fans of it are the least likely by far to be using IE6. Unless you're referring to cheapskate luddites who haven't upgraded their computer since 2001 and never run Windows Update, which isn't a category smartphone buyers are in at all so far as I know.

  1. Quark108

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Who wants to post a countdown to kill off Microsoft!??

  1. Kevin M. Dean

    Joined: Dec 1969



    IE7 is not much better. They should kick it to the curb as well.

    Also, it's too bad IE 6 users can't actually upgrade to IE 9 unless they upgrade to Windows 7 and it's likely their computers are too old to run Win 7. IE8 is as high as they can go, although that's better than nothing.

  1. fizzy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not really user's fault sometimes

    If your company hasn't updated an application with a web frontend, or if the vendor hasn't updated it, or maybe it's an old app you're still using, you might be stuck. I work for a large organization which uses a lot of different applications, and it was only fairly (surprisingly? embarrassingly?) recently that all our app vendors announced compatibility with IE > 6, much less that we had actually bought and applied all the updates.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Compatibility

    IE7 is not much better. They should kick it to the curb as well.

    MS isn't kicking IE 6 to the curb. They did that years ago. They're just trying to actually get users to move away from it. As they try to do with IE 7 (since Windows will try to upgrade to 8 if they can).

    Also, it's too bad IE 6 users can't actually upgrade to IE 9 unless they upgrade to Windows 7 and it's likely their computers are too old to run Win 7. IE8 is as high as they can go, although that's better than nothing.

    So you're complaining that MS isn't spending their resources making their latest browser work on a 10 year old OS? Perhaps you should complain to apple, who can't even be bothered supporting a 3 year old OS like Tiger.

  1. thebiggfrogg

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Will its rotting corpse... a biohazard to the rest of us?

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