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.
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.