Bad news: we're stuck with IE6 until 2014

Microsoft says it won't get rid of Internet Explorer 6 until 2014. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder if that means Web developers are stuck with it for five more years.

By Richi Jennings. August 12, 2009.

Your humble blogwatcher has selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention more Error'd...

Mark Trammell doesn't digg IE6:

Here at Digg, like most sites, the designers, developers, and QA engineers spend a lot of time making sure the site works in IE6, an eight-year-old browser superseded by two full releases. It consumes time that could be spent building the future of Digg. Here’s what we’re gonna do — and not do — about it.


Currently, IE6 usage accounts for 10% of Digg visitors and 5% of page views on Digg. While this is down from 13% and 8% a year ago respectively, IE6 still accounts for a fairly large portion of Digg usage. That said, a lot of time is spent by Digg engineers supporting site activity. ... [So] we’re likely to stop supporting IE6.

Nick Eaton:

Just the name strikes fear into many Web developers. It's a pain to code for. It's a waste of time. It's eight freakin' years old.


Digg would love to follow YouTube's lead in dropping support of IE6. ... A month ago, YouTube started asking IE6 users to please, for the love of God, upgrade to "more modern browsers." The skeptic in me wondered then whether Google, which owns YouTube, also was hoping people would switch to its Chrome browser.

Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch offers some home truths:

For technology enthusiasts, this topic seems simple. Enthusiasts install new (often unfinished or “beta”) software all the time. Scores of posts on this site and others describe specific benefits of upgrading. As a browser supplier, we want people to switch to the latest version of IE for security, performance, interoperability, and more. So, if all of the “individual enthusiasts” want Windows XP machines upgraded from IE6, and the supplier of IE6 wants them upgraded, what’s the issue?


Many PCs don’t belong to individual enthusiasts, but to organizations. The people in these organizations responsible for these machines decide what to do with them. These people are professionally responsible for keeping tens or hundreds or thousands of PCs working on budget. The backdrop might be a factory floor or hospital ward or school lab or government organization, each with its own business applications. For these folks, the cost of the software isn’t just the purchase price, but the cost of deploying, maintaining, and making sure it works with their IT infrastructure.

Harry McCracken stares at his calendar:

In other words: Microsoft doesn’t want to stop supporting part of a product, and therefore thinks it should support IE6 until it stops supporting versions of Windows that include IE6.

If I have this right, even the newest version of XP, Windows XP SP3, includes IE6. Microsoft officially ended “mainstream support” for XP on April 14th of this year, but “extended support” is scheduled to continue on until April 8th, 2014. Which would mean that Microsoft’s official policy would be to take no steps until then to murder IE6, although usage at that point would likely be tiny..

Justin Mann hits the spot:

[Microsoft is] stuck with the fact Windows XP shipped stock with IE6, and they have an obligation to continue supporting it for the lifetime of the product. That's a problem for Microsoft since extended support for Windows XP – and thereby IE6 – continues for another five years.


Ultimately, IE6 will die, but it is clear that Redmond expects that death to be slow and painful.

But Ben Parr has already given up on IE6:

The fight to destroy IE6 will be a rocky road; this isn’t new. That’s why we must use the weapon of awareness. As long as individuals and IT departments don’t know about the dangers of IE6 and how it is single-handedly hurting the web, people won’t switch. ...

Yes, using IE6 is the choice of the individual or the business, but it’s also our choice to not support it. While businesses will take short-term hits upgrading, in the long-term they will be safer and more productive. And in the long-term, we will be able to build better apps, better websites, and better products because the IE6 monster is dead.

So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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