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Mourners eulogize IE6 at funeral for aged browser

Microsoft sends flowers, cites the 'good time' with IE6 (see image, below)

March 5, 2010 01:20 PM ET

Computerworld - The mock funeral for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) last night was more Irish wake than somber processional, the Web design firm that hosted the event said today.

"It was great to get together with other people in the business and share remembrances of IE6, commiserate together," said Jon Clark, the business development manager for Aten Design Group of Denver, Colo. "People were really happy at the funeral, and it was all in good fun."

Last week, Aten Design announced the death of IE6 on a site, IE6funeral.com, that offered a short obituary and an invitation to a funeral on March 4.

"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 came 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. More recently, Google's YouTube named March 13 as the end-of-support date for IE6.

Between 80 and 100 people attended the Aten Design-hosted funeral Thursday night. Originally slated for its own office, Aten moved the event to a larger venue when the RSVPs accumulated.

Microsoft even got in on the fun. The Internet Explorer team sent flowers along with a card that read, "Thanks for the good times, IE6. See you at MIX where we'll show a little piece of IE heaven."

"It was a beautiful arrangement," Clark said.

The MIX Conference, scheduled to run March 15-17 in Las Vegas, is Microsoft's Web design conference. Some have speculated that Microsoft will reveal details of IE9 at the conference as a follow-up to last fall's brief show-and-tell by Stephen Sinofsky, the president of Microsoft's Windows group, at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC).

A representative from Microsoft's public relations office came from Boulder, Colo. to attend the funeral and take photographs, Clark added. "They were really curious about the tone of the event," he said. "Maybe they wanted someone on the ground."

The funeral featured a pine coffin complete with a dummy sporting a "face" composed of a graphic representing IE6. Attendees had been encouraged to dress appropriately, and many came in black. Candles were lit, and several gave eulogies.

"It wasn't just money that we spent on this," said Clark, who declined to put a dollar amount on the funeral. "We spent a little too long working on it. I spent a lot of time in the garage making the pine coffin."

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.

There's even an ie6death site, registered last August, that counts down the days until IE6 is officially retired from support in 2014.

According to Web metrics firm NetApplications.com, IE6 accounted for less than 20% of all browsers in use last month, while IE7 and IE8 held down about 14% and 26% 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 under 10%.

"If this created some awareness about browsers, all the better," said Clark. "Maybe people will spend a little time thinking about what browser they're using. Hopefully, if it's IE6, they'll upgrade."

Aten Design has posted photos taken at the funeral on Flickr, while video clips from the event can be found here.

IE6 funeral
IE6's funeral was open-casket. Credit: Aten Design Group.

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

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