Friends do not let Friends use Internet Explorer 6!

So who would say such a thing? Microsoft. Clearly they are also tired of supporting people on older web browsers which are non-standards compliant. In a bid to encourage people to shift to newer versions of IE (or another browser, depending on how you interpret it), Microsoft set up the IE6 Countdown website, which shows worldwide usage statistics of IE.

“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. This website is dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than 1% worldwide, so more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers.”

Shockingly, South Africa is one of the worst off in the list – which was surprising to me. Who are these people still running on IE6? The Department of Communications? So why do we need to stop using IE6? The oversimplified version is that up until now web developers had a uphill battle with IE6 – they had to either follow official W3C standards which would not render well on IE6, but function perfectly on other browsers; or they had to develop only for IE6, which resulted in websites with poor functionality. Only until IE8 did Microsoft try to follow the latest web standards which resulted in much better websites which are approaching platform level of functionality – just look at a product like Gmail as an example. The other major advantage is in the area of security – IE6 shipped with Windows XP back in 2001, which did not have a very good security record. Those machines are very susceptible to malicious code, and IE6 is not geared towards modern threats like phishing. In fact – IE6 has such a poor security record that I reckon banks should reject users who still use IE6, and force people to upgrade to a later version.

So why is Microsoft bad-mouthing their own ol’ browser? It comes down to marketshare – users must rather upgrade to the latest IE, than to an alternative browser like Firefox or Chrome, which is rapidly gaining in marketshare. Everybody has their own favourite browsers. I personally like Chrome because of its speed and simplicity, but there is always the crowd that believes the blue “e” icon means internet. Please help that crowd to quickly get on the latest IE. Be a helping hand…
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