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Internet Explorer 6 finally on the way out… in the US

Internet Explorer 6 finally on the way out… in the US

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ComputerWorld has an article up where Microsoft is celebrating the fact that Internet Explorer 6 is now used by less than 1% of users in the United States.  From ComputerWorld:

Microsoft today said its campaign to drive Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) into extinction had done its job in the U.S., where fewer than 1% of users ran the decade-old browser last month.

To celebrate, Microsoft posted a photograph of a cake frosted with the phrase, "Goodbye IE6!"

"IE6 has been the punch line of browser jokes for a while, and we've been as eager as anyone to see it go away," said Roger Capriotti, the head of IE marketing at the Redmond, Wash. developer, in a Tuesday blog.

Citing data from Web measurement company Net Applications, Capriotti said that IE6 usage in the U.S. had dipped below the 1% mark in the U.S., a new low for the browser that debuted in August 2001.

Net Applications said IE6 accounted for just 0.94% of all browsers used in the U.S. in December, 2011.

Microsoft has been trying to put a stake in the heart of IE6 for more than two years, starting in the summer of 2009 when an executive famously said, "Friends don't let friends use IE6."

Yes, Microsoft has been trying for years to get people off of that browser.  It’s old, has too many vulnerabilities and nobody in the tech industry likes to support software 4 versions old.  No one.

Notice that the words are carefully chosen, it is less than 1% in the United States.  The article goes on to clarify:

According to Net Applications, IE6's share on desktop and notebook computers was 7.3% last month, down seven-tenths of a percentage point from the month before and 6.2 points fewer than a year earlier.

Most of the remaining copies of IE6 are run by Chinese users of Windows, said Microsoft. Almost one-in-four Chinese PCs used IE6 to access the Internet in December, while Chinese users accounted for 58% of all copies of IE6 run worldwide that month.

Experts have linked the higher rate of IE6 use in China to the country's reliance on Windows XP -- which included IE6 -- and its reputation as a haven for software piracy.

The latter, analysts believe, hinder upgrades to newer Microsoft browsers because users are afraid their counterfeits will be sniffed out when they use Windows Update. In fact, that's not the case: Microsoft allows users of counterfeit Windows to install IE7 or IE8, and to receive security patches via Windows Update.

But XP does have a lock on China. In reply to questions today, Net Applications' head of marketing, Vince Vizzaccaro, confirmed that Windows XP is on 70% of China's personal computers, more than twice XP's share of 29.6% in the U.S.

Having been to China, I can totally confirm that IE6 is used in a lot of places and Windows XP is everywhere.  However, Windows XP is used everywhere in countries that are not the United States.  Although, it’s used in a lot of places inside the US, too.  When I’m at my doctor’s office, I peek over and see that they are running XP.  When I’m checking into a hotel in Marahau, I can see that they are using XP.  When wander past a restaurant in Barcelona, I can see them using XP.

That’s part of the problem of the success of Windows XP – it works so well, i.e., is good enough for what people need it for, that people don’t upgrade in it.  And like the article says, in China people are concerned about upgrading because they don’t want Microsoft to come after them for pirating software.  Or if they do upgrade, the software will be locked out of some features due to security restrictions, i.e., Windows detects that the software is pirated and therefore disables features A, B, and C.

It’s good that Microsoft is going to start auto-upgrading IE6 to more recent versions, at least to IE7 which has more security in it.  It’s too bad that they can’t go to IE9 which has done very well in security test.

Maybe one day the rest of the developing world will start paying for its software.

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  • "It’s too bad that they can’t go to IE9 which has done very well in security test."

    Chrome and FireFox are the secure alternative solution.

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