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Internet Explorer 6, the browser that will not die

August 17, 2009 | 10:54 am

Ie6

Good news for fans of Internet Explorer 6, the version of Microsoft's online browser that debuted in 2001. Even though the company is now up to its eighth version of the browser, it will continue to support IE6 until at least 2014.

Not that Microsoft is happy about that.

"Friends do not let friends use IE6," said Microsoft's Amy Barzdukas, in an interview with BBC News. The company wants Internet users to upgrade to IE8, which is also free.

And many developers don't want to bother making their products conform to IE6. Mark Trammell of the Digg content rating site, blogged, "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 8-year-old browser superseded by two full releases."

The developers even contributed to a site, www.ie6nomore.com.

But IE6 has the numbers on its side. As of July, according to Net Applications, IE6 was still the world's most popular browser, with just more than 27% global market share. IE7 was second at 23%, followed by Firefox 3.0 at 16%.

Some fans of IE6, who had their own Save IE6 site, were loathe to upgrade from a browser version that seemed to work just fine for them. Perhaps they were haunted by the 2006 switch from Microsoft's XP to Vista operating system, which for many did not go well, to put it mildly.

But the major obstacle to IE upgrades is business users, many of whom have hundreds or thousands of computers humming along with IE6. Upgrades bring about the possibility of software conflicts in all those computers.

As Microsoft's Dean Hachamovitch put it on the company's Windows blog, the business user can't afford to upgrade for the fun of it, just to use nifty new features. "The backdrop might be a factory floor or hospital ward or school lab or government organization, each with its own business applications," he said.

"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."

-- David Colker

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