Four years ago, I upset a few readers when I declared in a blog post that I would no longer help them use Microsoft’s already obsolete Internet Explorer 6 browser. IE 6 was too insecure, too slow, too clumsy and just too stupid for me to support, I wrote. The only way to fix it was to replace it with its successor IE 7, Mozilla Firefox or another worthy, non-obsolete browser.
Microsoft has been making the same point in the years since, but it’s not stepping up its lobbying campaign with a site called “The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown.” Think of this page as Microsoft flicking the lights on and off, hoping that its lagging users finally get the point.
A helpful graphic tracks IE 6’s current market share, as estimated by Net Applications, and breaks it down by country. Although IE 6 is now down to 12 percent — and only 2.9 percent in the U.S.— it maintains a death grip on the market in China, with an embarrassing 34.5 percent share. South Korea, Taiwan and Japan have some explaining (and upgrading) to do, as well, with IE 6’s share there estimated at 24.8 percent, 10.7 and 10.3 percent, respectively.
Elsewhere on the page, Microsoft encourages Web authors to add a special banner, viewable only to IE 6 users, urging them to upgrade. But Microsoft’s own suggested upgrade--as highlighted at the top right corner of the page--is the “released candidate” version of its upcoming Internet Explorer 9.
Not only is that unavailable for Windows XP--the only still-supported Microsoft operating system that could conceivably have a copy of IE 6 onboard--it’s not even a finished version. XP users would be better off switching to Mozilla Firefox or Google’s Chrome. The latter has a slight edge in my book for its greater performance on older systems and a simpler auto-update system that also patches the crucial Flash and PDF plug-ins automatically.
But, really, there are few browsers available for download that wouldn’t represent a major upgrade over IE 6. Microsoft is right here: You need to get rid of that browser. Finally.
I hope all of you did that long ago, but I fear that some of you know people still holding out--or who are stuck on IE 6 by an uncooperative IT department. Please share their stories in the comments.