Microsoft Trumpets Internet Explorer 6's Impending Demise

Microsoft is highlighting how Internet Explorer 6's market share has dipped beneath 1 percent in the United States.

Internet Explorer 6 is very nearly dead in the United States.

According to research firm Net Applications, use of IE6 in this country has dropped to beneath 1 percent. This is good news to Microsoft, which has been anything but private about its all-consuming desire to have users switch from the 10-year-old browser to a newer version.

"IE6 has been the punch line of browser jokes for a while, and we've been as eager as anyone to see it go away," Roger Capriotti, a member of Internet Explorer's marketing team, wrote in a Jan. 3 posting on The Windows Blog. "We hope this means more developers and IT Pros can consider IE6 a -low-priority' at this point and stop spending their time having to support such an outdated browser."

A number of countries have also dropped below that 1 percent mark, he added, including Austria, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway.

Early in 2011, Microsoft even started a Website, The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, which used data from Net Applications to detail IE6 usage around the world. As of December, that total stood at 7.7 percent, most of it in mainland China. In addition, Microsoft has encouraged users to spread the word about upgrading to a new browser, and offered Website owners code for displaying a "You are using an outdated browser" banner to visitors using IE6.

Despite that push, a number of users have stuck with IE6 as part of Windows XP, another legacy platform that Microsoft desperately wants the world to abandon in favor of Windows 7. Some enterprises and SMBs have also historically depended on IE6 in order to run older, proprietary applications.

Microsoft is intent on creating browsers that leverage both Windows and local hardware in order to more quickly deliver fully rendered Websites. It is currently prepping two versions of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 8: one a more traditional desktop application, the other a "Metro"-style one for tablets running the upcoming operating system.

According to Net Applications, the combined versions of Internet Explorer hold some 51.87 percent of the desktop-browser market, followed by Firefox at 21.83 percent, Chrome at 19.11 percent and Safari at 4.97 percent.

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter