Microsoft will continue to support Internet Explorer 6 through April 2014, despite some calls to phase out the 8-year-old browser. Although a significant percentage of people continue to use IE 6, that number has been dropping as more users adopt either Internet Explorer 8 or a rival browser such as Mozilla Firefox.
The online community has been debating whether sites should continue to
support Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6, with some IT administrators and
security experts publicly asking whether now is the time to think about
shutting down the 8-year-old browser.
The newest flurry of debate erupted after Digg, a content-sharing Website,
suggested in July that it could stop supporting IE 6 "soon." While
this decision was prompted by practical factors, namely the amount of time that
Digg's engineers spent supporting IE 6-related site activity, it led the
administrators to issue a survey on why 10 percent of its users continued to
use the aged browser.
The survey suggested that, of the Digg community using IE 6, most declined
to upgrade either because they had no administrator access on their PCs or else
because "someone at work says I can't."
Other online sites and groups picked up the thread; for example, Twibbon started a small "IE 6
Must Die" chain.
YouTube has also asked IE 6 users to upgrade.
Despite the online back-and-forth, Microsoft
seems determined to continue to support the browser until April 2014-perhaps a
smart move on the company's part, considering that IE 6 shipped along with
Windows XP, and a lot of users seem unwilling to give up XP for another
"We committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the
lifespan of the product," Dean Hachamovitch, a member of Microsoft's
Internet Explorer team, wrote in an Aug. 10 post on Microsoft's official Internet Explorer blog.
engineers, we want people to upgrade to the latest version. We make it as easy
as possible for them to upgrade. Ultimately, the choice to upgrade belongs to
the person responsible for the PC."
Hachamovitch added, "Looking back at the post on Digg, it's not just IT
professionals. Some of the 'regular people' surveyed there were not interested
Despite some users' reluctance to part with IE 6, there has been a slow but
steady migration to Internet Explorer 8.
share of the browser market fell in 2008.
According to StatCounter, the
global market share of IE 7 fell from 43.45 percent in May 2009 to 33.75
percent in June and 30.61 percent in July. IE 6 fell from 11.47 percent in May
to 8.74 percent at the beginning of July.
During that period, IE 8 climbed from 8.5 percent in May to 15.4 percent in
Firefox 3.0's portion of the market had reached 27.73 percent by
July, while other browsers-including Firefox 2.0, Apple Safari and Google Chrome-saw
their market shares at somewhere between 0.04 and 2 percent.
Ray Valdes, an analyst with Gartner, told eWEEK at the time of the
StatCounter report that "both" the adoption of IE 8 and the rise of
"alternative browsers" such as Firefox were leading to the decline in
IE 6 and IE 7 usage. For certain sites and online communities, it seems that
the decline can't happen fast enough.