Get rid of IE6, urges Microsoft

The company is urging users to migrate to a newer version of its Internet Explorer browser for a more secure and reliable browsing experience

In a bid to kill its Internet Explorer 6 web browser, Microsoft has launched a dedicated countdown website that shows the percentage of users worldwide still using the decade-old browser.

Microsoft hopes to shrink global usage of the Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) browser to below one percent so that developers no longer have to support it when designing or updating websites. As of Februrary 2011, more than one in 10 users are accessing the web through IE6.

"10 years ago a browser was born. 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," the page said.

Currently, China is responsible for nearly half of all IE6 usage, as 34.5 percent of Chinese users — who make up 5.9 percent of global users — are still using the outdated browser. In the UK around 3.5 percent of users are still using IE6.

Upgrading to a newer version of Internet Explorer — currently at version 8, though a release candidate of IE9 is available — will provide faster, tabbed browsing with better privacy and security protection, Microsoft said. It has also put together an Internet Explorer 8 Migration Workshop for enterprises that have still not managed to upgrade.

"Friends don't let friends use Internet Explorer 6. And neither should acquaintances," Microsoft said.

On 1 March, 2010, Google began phasing out support for IE6 for its web apps, beginning with Docs and Sites, which could cause the services to not function correctly.

IE6 upgrade

Numerous security vulnerabilities have also been exploited and patched over the course of the browser's 10-year lifespan, including several zero-day exploits.

Friends don't let friends use Internet Explorer 6. And neither should acquaintances.

– Microsoft

However, despite the concerns voiced by the developer and security communities, some organisations have resisted moving to a newer version of the browser for economic reasons, leaving users stuck on IE6 with no support for new web standards such as HTML 5 and an updated JavaScript engine.

In June, the government rejected a petition with more than 6,000 signatures that urged it to upgrade away from Internet Explorer 6.

"It is not straightforward for HMG departments to upgrade IE versions on their systems. Upgrading these systems to IE8 can be a very large operation, taking weeks to test and roll out to all users," a Government spokesperson said in response to the petition.

"To test all the web applications currently used by HMG departments can take months at significant potential cost to the taxpayer. It is therefore more cost effective in many cases to continue to use IE6 and rely on other measures, such as firewalls and malware scanning software, to further protect public-sector internet users," the spokesperson added.

In September, Microsoft released the first IE9 public beta, which supports HTML 5, CSS 3 and the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).

According to the latest figures from analytics company Netmarketshare, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are the biggest threats to Internet Explorer's browser market share, with approximately 21.74 percent and 10.93 percent respectively.

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