Few pieces of software (outside of viruses and tojans) have ever reached infamous legendary status like Internet Explorer 6. Microsoft has finally admitted that it unleashed an unspeakable evil on the world and launched The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown to seek out and destroy its creation.
Microsoft hasn’t come out and publicly admitted what a horrible failure IE 6 was. But spin the IE6 Countdown effort anyway you’d like, it’s a clear confession and repentance. At the time of this writing, 7.9% of the world is still using IE 6. Most of those users are in China and South East Asia. However, 1.3% of US internet surfers are still using it. Microsoft’s goal is to reduce the global usage to under 1%. Most first world countries are just above that threshold. Norway and Finland lead the pack at .1% and .4% usage rates respectively. Here on Fruition’s website, we see 1.19% of our visitors using IE6.
The long answer could fill a library with compatibility and security complaints. The short answer is, Microsoft tried to buck the system and created a browser that was not compliant to W3C standards. Think of it as a really bad translation of Romeo and Juliet. If you thought Juliet was the name of a town and Romeo was a kitten, it would paint a much different picture and the story wouldn’t make much sense. Everything from style sheets to script loading to SSL, IE 6 marched to the beat of its own drummer. This has caused headaches to developers, added unnecessary costs to website design projects, and compromised the security of computers of countless internet users.
Some say the only good to come of IE 6 was its success to open competition in the browser market. This gave rise to Firefox, Opera, Safari, and later Chrome. Each of these browsers added new features to enhance user experience and changed the way we interact with websites. Microsoft was stuck in the mud with IE 6 while their competitors were gaining more and more fans.
It’s difficult to say exactly why people would willfully use a clearly inferior browser. Most people guess it’s a matter of ignorance, laziness, old hardware, or a combination of the three. We’re talking about only 1.3% of the US users, but with 300 million in our ranks, that’s still hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people.
Stop supporting IE 6 and instead add a warning banner to visitors to your site still stuck in the stone age. Microsoft gives you the code and it only takes a few minutes to add it to your site.
Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.
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