Facebook to pull IE6 plug for Chat

Users have until Sept. 15 to upgrade if they want to IM friends

Facebook on Wednesday said it will drop chat support for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 in three weeks, the latest effort to stamp out the nine-year-old browser.

In a message on its Web site that also said it was dealing with complaints about the reliability of its instant-messaging Chat feature, the popular social networking site announced that it would stop supporting IE6 on Sept. 15. It urged consumers to upgrade to a newer browser, and pointed them to Microsoft's site for the newer IE8.

"We've decided to make rapid improvements and provide the best Chat experience possible, which means we will no longer support Internet Explorer 6 browsers," said Facebook software engineer Rodrigo Schmidt on the company's blog .

Facebook has been prompting users to ditch IE6 since February 2009, and other major Web sites and services, including YouTube, Gmail and Digg, have told people to switch or confirmed that they would no longer support the browser in key areas.

Last August, Microsoft added its voice to the chorus when Amy Bazdukas, general manager for IE, said, "Friends don't let friends use IE6."

Calls to drop IE6 intensified earlier this year, after attacks struck Google, Adobe and dozens of other Western companies. Those attacks exploited a then-unpatched vulnerability in Internet Explorer, and researchers said the exploit specifically targeted IE6. At the time, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security, known by its German initials of BSI, and France's CERTA each urged citizens to ditch the browser.

According to Web metrics company Net Applications, IE6 was used by about 17% of all people on the Internet in July.

Earlier this month, Roger Capriotti, a product management lead on the IE team, argued that the battle to drive IE6 into extinction was "definitely winnable" as he cited data that showed impressive usage share increases for IE8.

Microsoft will support IE6 with security updates until April 2014.

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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