Web designers announce IE6's 'death,' slate party

'Died as a result of a workplace injury' at Google, says Denver design firm

A Denver Web design firm will hold a tongue-in-cheek funeral for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 on March 4 to celebrate the aged browser's decline.

Aten Design Group Inc. announced IE6's funeral on Monday with a site, IE6funeral.com, that offered a short obituary and an invitation to a wake.

"Internet Explorer Six, resident of the interwebs for over 8 years, died the morning of March 1, 2010, in Mountain View, California, as a result of a workplace injury sustained at the headquarters of Google, Inc.," the obit read. "Internet Explorer Six, known to friends and family as 'IE6,' is survived by son Internet Explorer Seven, and grand-daughter Internet Explorer Eight."

The Google and March 1 references come from the search giant's recent announcement that it would drop IE6 from the list of supported browsers for its Google Docs online applications and its Google Sites hosting services starting on Monday, March 1. Yesterday, Google's popular video site YouTube named March 13 as the end-of-support date for IE6.

"We thought it would be funny to do an IE6 funeral," said Justin Toupin, Aten Design's founder and creative director, in an interview. "It's a humorous spin on a browser that a lot of us have loved to hate for a long time. We're just saying that it's a fun way to celebrate companies like Google saying that they're no longer going to support IE6."

But Toupin admitted that the reaction to the funeral announcement has taken him by surprise. Aten Design regularly hosts small in-office parties for the Denver Web design and development community, but those typically draw 30 or 40 people. So far, Aten has received more than 700 RSVPs to its March 4 event via its site.

"Now we have to figure out what to do about the actual party," Toupin said. "We have a pretty small office. This kind of blew up on us."

Aten's clients include several major nonprofit organizations, including the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and Habitat for Humanity.

Toupin said he had nothing personal against IE6 but acknowledged that, like many other Web designers, he wouldn't be sorry to see it go. "It does involve, toward the end of a project especially, considerable work adjusting things like CSS and JavaScript to make sure they work," he said. Aten now evaluates IE6 support for its projects on a case-by-case basis, Toupin said.

More than anything, he added, the decision by Google and others to stop supporting the nearly nine-year-old browser marks an important step in the Web's evolution. "But it's also a great excuse to get together," he said.

"In lieu of attending, please send flowers," Toupin said in a blog entry posted yesterday.

Microsoft's browser has weathered a "kill IE6" campaign since February 2009, when Facebook prompted IE6 users to upgrade. That movement accelerated last summer when Digg announced that it would curtail IE6 support, and an "IE6 Must Die" Twitter petition collected thousands of names. Microsoft has endorsed the anti-IE6 efforts, going so far as to say that "Friends don't let friends use IE6," although it has refrained from forcing users or companies to upgrade to IE7 or IE8, arguing that the old browser is still required by some enterprises.

According to Web metrics firm NetApplications.com, IE6 accounted for 20% of all browsers in use last month, while IE7 and IE8 held down about 15% and 25% shares, respectively. Much of the measured IE6 usage, however, apparently originates in China, where the application represents 50% of the browsers in use. In the U.S., IE6's share is less than 10%.

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on the funeral, or answer questions, including one about whether it would be sending a representative to the wake.

"We've obviously struck a chord, and maybe in some cases, a nerve," said Toupin on his blog.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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