Please Help Us Kill IE6! Please!

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Seriously, it's time. We are not kidding. You've had your fun, and you really should let it go. There is no point in using IE6 anymore. Get it? Drop it. Upgrade it. Whatever. Just don't use it anymore. Please!

OK, so we know that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) is desperate at this point. There is a guy who has nothing better to do than to kill IE6, to extinguish it from your hard drive, if you are among the 12% of those Web users who still run this outdated and insecure browser. We are sensing a certain dislike from Microsoft toward a browser that is nearing its 10th anniversary, as well as toward its users who still choose to use it and those who have to use it. Following the idea to send IE6 users spoiled milk, Microsoft has now come up with an IE6 countdown in the hope to document a much faster decline in IE6 usage.

"Its name was Internet Explorer 6. Now that we're in 2011, in an era of modern Web standards, it's time to say goodbye." As much as Microsoft stresses the past tense, there is still such a thing whose name is IE6. The usage data is pulled from Net Applications, which puts the average usage at currently 12.0%. However, a closer look at the map may indicate that Microsoft will have a tough time getting IE6 usage down quickly. Usage share in North America and Europe is negligible. However, China's share is 34.5%, and China is also the country with the highest share of Windows XP users. Those users are shut out of IE9, but they could upgrade to IE8. However, if they haven't done so, there may be a good reason -- perhaps they don't know how to or they don't even want to.

Not too long ago, Microsoft complained about the high software piracy rate in China and the fact that lots of the Windows copies in China are pirated. It's rather unlikely that those pirated Windows XP systems would request an upgrade from IE6. Based on Microsoft's statements, the company would have to give away Windows 7 copies free of charge or wait until pirated versions of Windows 7 are making their way throughout the region to decrease IE6 share.

Begging on your knees to extinguish IE6 and take it down to 1% share  may not be enough -- even if I have to admit that the prepared Twitter message you can send from the countdown site ("I'm doing my part to get IE6 to 1%") is heartwarming. The real problem seems to be that Microsoft locked an entire world into using a specific version of IE6 almost a decade ago and did not spend enough time thinking about the future of the Web. It is somewhat interesting to see that Microsoft is doing better with IE7 and IE8, but Microsoft will have the same issues with those browsers as well as with IE9, as there are no automated update mechanisms.

In some ways, you could wonder why Microsoft wants those 12.0% of IE6 users to be gone. It almost feels suspicious, as there is no real benefit to Microsoft as far as IE7 and IE8 are concerned. Microsoft definitely wants those IE6 users to move to IE9 because of its HTML5 capabilities and the general opportunity to create an addressable user base for Windows Web applications. However, there is the general problem that Windows XP still occupies more than 50% of the world's operating-system market (according to Net Applications) -- and we know that Microsoft did not go the extra mile to enable at least partial hardware acceleration on an IE9 browser for Windows XP.

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Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2011, at 2:01 PM, theHedgehog wrote:


  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2011, at 9:41 PM, hawcreek99 wrote:

    I did my share by switching to Firefox on all of my computers. Firefox works with Mac and Linux too. I especially like Firefox because it's Mozilla's revenge against Microsoft for killing Netscape.

    Don't like Firefox? Why not try Google Chome? Google Chrome is the fastest browser available. It incorporates well with GMail and Google Docs too. Google Chrome managed to take 10% browser market share away from Internet Explorer.

    Or why not give Safari, Opera or one of other dozens of free browsers. There is no law that says you can only install ONE browser.

    If Microsoft wants users to give up Internet Explorer 6, there are plenty of alternatives out there besides Internet Explorer 9.

  • Report this Comment On March 05, 2011, at 10:32 PM, baldheadeddork wrote:

    Our regional hospital updated its McKesson-backed provider portal just in the last month so it could be viewed with IE7. Before then every workstation in every doctor's office had to use IE6 and nothing else.

    To add injury on top of injury, SOP is to lock down all Microsoft updates because otherwise users would install IE7. So not only were they using a browser with the defensive capability of the Maginot Line, they were missing months or even years of security patches for Windows XP, Word, Windows Media Player and so on. We picked up a new client last week and they were still on SP2.

    The update allowing IE7 is only a partial victory. The oldest version of IE you can run on Windows 7 is IE8. That means everyone is still using XP, which is significantly less secure than Win7 and still requires locking down auto updates. Microsoft has also stopped licensing XP for sale on new systems.

    The point of this is that in some cases, users staying with vulnerable and outdated software isn't Microsoft's fault or because the owners are too cheap to upgrade. This isn't an unusual situation. Dig a little into any field and you'll quickly find a program or provider that works on nothing newer than XP or IE6/7. But nobody talks about that.

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