Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Microsoft Wants Internet Explorer 6 Dead in the Worst Way

Most companies are a little averse to killing their own products.

Not Microsoft, at least with Internet Explorer 6. If the increasingly antiquated Web browser were a vampire, Microsoft would be Van Helsing doing his utter best to slam a stake through its heart. That's because, at least in Microsoft's eyes, IE 6 *is* something of a vampire: aging, potentially dangerous and curiously unable to die.

Instead of a stake, though, Microsoft's killing instrument is a Website, titled "The Internet Explorer 6," which features the company practically begging people to stop using IE 6. Although only a tiny percentage of people continue to use IE 6 in the United States (2.9 percent), it still maintains a substantial market presence in places such as China (34.5 percent) and Japan (10.3 percent).

"The Web has changed significantly over the past 10 years," reads a note on the Website. "The browser has evolved to adapt to new Web technologies, and the latest versions of Internet Explorer help protect you from new attacks and threats." Translation: IE 6 is really slow, stupendously vulnerable, possibly has a near-controllable hankering to suck your blood, yada-yada.

Despite Microsoft's push, a sizable number of users continue to rely on IE 6 in conjunction with Windows XP, another legacy platform the company desperately wants the world to abandon in favor of Windows 7. A variety of enterprises and SMBs continue to use Windows XP and IE 6 as a platform for proprietary software whose code-base was written some time ago.

When I wrote about this issue yesterday on eWEEK, one anonymous commenter also offered an interesting explanation for IE 6's continued presence. "Look at the countries with the highest representation of IE 6. How do they line up with a list of countries with the highest rates of software piracy?" they wrote. "If you're running a pirated copy of Windows XP, and as a result cannot legitimately get updates from Microsoft, you're stuck with IE6."

That could be an explanation, too. Whatever the case, Microsoft wants its antiquated browser buried deep. It also hopes that users will gravitate towards IE 9, whose Release Candidate the company recently made available online. Some 25 million testers played around with the IE 9 beta, offering feedback in areas such as performance and standards, user experience and privacy and safety.

Even if Microsoft manages to kill the vampire, though, it still faces a handful of boogeymen: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and other browsers making strong plays for browser market share.



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