'Kill IE6' campaign gains force; 30M Web users get switch pitch

'You are using an outdated browser' offer follows similar moves by Facebook, YouTube

The campaign to kill Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) gathered steam this week when a California site builder led nearly 40 Web start-ups to urge their users to ditch Microsoft's eight-year-old browser.

Microsoft acknowledged it's pushing IE6 users to upgrade to the newer IE8, but again promised it would support the creaky browser until April 2014.

The anti-IE6 move followed reports last month that Google's YouTube was doing the same, that Digg would soon curtail support for the ancient browser and a petition on Twitter collected nearly 10,000 signatures supporting the effort. Facebook has been prompting IE6 users to swap out their browsers since February 2009.

"Developers can't wait until IE6 is gone," said David Rusenko, the CEO of Weebly, the San Francisco Web site creation and hosting company that's leading the newest campaign. Weebly has more then 2.2 million users, said Rusenko, and used connections with the venture capitalists who funded the firm to reach out to the 38 sites that have joined its campaign.

Weebly has shared HTML code that displays a message to IE6 users telling them: "You are using an outdated browser. For a better experience using this site, please upgrade to a modern web browser."

"IE6 adds about 50% more development work," Rusenko said, when asked about the push to get users to dump the old browser. "It's holding the Web back."

His argument isn't new. Although talk about dropping IE6 has been circulating for at least two years, last month it gained momentum when the news aggregator Digg admitted it would block IE6 users from some activities, such as commenting. Also in July, reports surfaced the Google's YouTube would soon stop supporting IE6, and was encouraging users to upgrade to Chrome, IE8 or Mozilla's Firefox 3.5.

An "IE6 Must Die" petition on Twitter, meanwhile, has collected more than 9,500 proponents.

"We're not discarding IE6 users," Rusenko said, when asked how sites could give up that user base, which by recent estimates accounts for more than 27% of the browser market. "We're just showing them a message telling them that they're running an out-of-date browser."

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