back to article Microsoft rallies IE6 death squads

Microsoft has launched a fresh campaign to eradicate Internet Explorer 6 from the web. Redmond's Internet Explorer 6 Countdown web page lets you watch the decline of IE6's market share decline, encouraging websites to drop support for browser and urging netizen IE6 holdouts to switch to "a modern browser". According to …


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  1. Little Me
    Thumb Up


    Go Opera!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Go Opera...

      ...and close the door behind you

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ha ha

      IE 6 still has a greater market share than all opera version combined...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Friends don't let friends use IE6"

    Funny, I remember thinking that when it first arrived, too.

    1. Alastair 7


      Everyone loves to rewrite history. When IE6 first came out it was fantastic compared to the competition (Netscape 6 anyone? Thought not). Not that I'm defending the browser- it's terrible by today's standards. But then, so is Firefox 1...

      1. Getter lvl70 Druid

        Hey now!

        I loved the look and feel of Netscape Navigator! They have yet to bring that back to any browser IMO. Sigh... the big N and shooting stars icon while surfing at 14.4k... memoriiiiiiieeeessss!

        Besides, don't speak ill of the dead. Netscape was murdered by Microsoft and everyone knows it.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    34.5 per cent share in China

    34.5% in China? That's insane. Any info as to why the rate is so high there? On the one hand, they have a high rate of software piracy, so maybe there's a lot of old Windows installations kicking around without upgrades. On the other, if piracy was to blame, wouldn't it also be the cure (steal newer versions?)

    Beer, because it's Friday, and much better to drink than nine-year-old milk.

    1. paulej72


      This is probably other browsers using IE6s browser string so that sites will be rendered without the dreaded please use IE6 junk. I bet there are a bunch of Chinese Browsers based on other technologies that all say they are IE6.


    2. Greg J Preece

      Browser Apps

      I seem to remember reading somewhere that a lot of banking sites in China require IE6, and that older versions of their Great Firewall utilised it in some manner also.

    3. ZweiBlumen

      It is due to piracy

      It's probably to do the number of pre-internet activation Windows PCs which all run IE6 and you can't upgrade them unless you are on SP2 or something.

      As to stealing newer versions: Lets assume the average PC user in China to be no more IT literate than in the UK. Don't think that they know how to install an OS. They got it when they bought their PC. If the seller was honest he'll have aked them: do you want this version of windows for $10 or this one for $100. I'll leave you to decide which one is the legal version and which one a labourer on $50/month will have bought. If the seller wasn't honest he'll have simply bundled the cheap version in for $20. The buyer isn't going to go back and upgrade his PC or OS in the next 10 years. Nor can he download updates and patches because his key is illegal. He considers the PC to be like a washing machine. You buy one and then you fix it when it is broken.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cost, the cost

    Where I work, we have core applications written to work in IE6. And they are supported, on contract, by EDS.

    The sheer mouthwatering cost that EDS (or HP Enterprise Services or whatever their name is today) will charge to rewrite, makes it a stone cold certainty that the applications have between several and many years of life ahead.

    If Microsoft had an IE6 box in IE8 or IE9 that would guarantee to run IE6 applications, that would be an attractive pafh.

    1. Rebajas


      That's a nice idea, though rather than inflict the option on everyone, have it as an option if IE6 is installed alongside IE8.

      The option of being able to have both on one system would have helped me a year or so ago, but as it was i just stopped writing for IE6 completely.

      Problem solved.

    2. Wibble

      IE8 (in)compatibility mode

      IE8 (and IE9 for that matter) support a meta tag which you insert into the page to push the browser into incompatibility mode.

      <meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />

      This forces the browser to support all the bugs of IE7 -- countless broken box models, incorrect width calculations, collapsing margins, floating bugs...

      The problem is that the underlying web applications are broken. All web development should be done on 'proper' browsers (Firefox, Chrome, etc.) with testing done in IE. Retro-fixing these applications will cost the proverbial arm and leg. Hence the incompatibility mode being quite attractive as you should be able to modify the pages to add this tag.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bite the bullet...

      I know that in this economy[tm] it's difficult, and even harder when it's a shower like EDS, but it's only going to get more expensive to fix/change/upgrade. Make sure it's standards based and and this shouldn't be an issue for a very long time. And don't contract the maintenance to a HP.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Same inside HP

      If it makes you feel any better there is a lot of corporate cruft inside HP that only works on IE6, not Firefox or IE7. You can't go to a competing web site to fill in your travel expenses or other housekeeping things, so you need a copy of IE around. IE8 is slightly better at handling compatilbility, but it's still IE, it still sucks.

      This is why you need a VMWare or virtual box windows VM, Windows Server 2003 is pretty good here: lighter weight than Win7, more secure than XP, doesn't suck as much as vista.

      To be fair, if your employers had coded for Firefox, you'd be stuck with a copy of Firefox 1.5.2 on your corporate desktop. At least we can run chrome or FF 3.x to go outside the corporate sites.

    5. Getter lvl70 Druid


      Place I worked for years ago had a contract that was subcontracted through IBM from HP originally about 4 subcontracts ago. I think they ended up with about $70 for the service call I trotted out to. Anyway they have Ghost disk images for each model of desktop, laptop etc in the contractee's place with all the proprietary, XP and IE6 using, interconnected mess required for whatever the client paid for that is written in figurative stone. No changes allowed without written authorization from God. User data be damned.

      Somebody, somewhere, is putting a Vista version together by now lol.

  5. adnim


    "To help finally kill of IE6, Microsoft's site includes code for a site banner that web meisters can install and that tells people to switch from IE6."

    Switch from IE6 to IE8/9 no doubt. It looks like MS are hoping for some free advertising.

    I have my own method of discouraging the continued use of IE6 on the sites I own... A link to the Firefox download page.

    1. Steve Loughran
      Thumb Up

      the site pushes IE even to mac and linux clients

      The ie countdown site encourages you to go and get a new IE but if you follow the links it tells OS/X and Linux users that first they need to get Windows 7. Missing the point, which is that we are already ex-IE6 users.

    2. Refugee from Windows

      Model T browser?

      Maybe a nice bit of script that detects IE6 and gives you a nice picture of a Model T, and comment about "still driving one of these - it's time to update" and "Sorry our site does not support your current browser".

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Well, its very simple to kill off IE6 ...

    All MS has to do is issue a system patch which will render it stone-dead. Not like they've not done this before with software that they decide they don't love anymore.

    This would be unpopular with a lot of saddos who have apps which will only work with IE6 but it could be argued that anyone who STILL has such an application is being malevolent and irresponsible. That would be the get-out defence against any legal comebacks.

    C'mon, IE6 is a pile of shit and anyone who is still using it (I'm looking at you, big corporates) is either a moron or evil.

    1. Rebajas

      Real world.

      And back in the real world, where profits matter...

    2. JC 2

      @ Well, it's very simple to kill off IE6

      Hardly. You can nudge people to switch but if you kill software they're using it's time for a few lawsuits. I agree it is time to move on from IE6, but always by choice, never somebody else's mere opinion based on what they subjectively feel are factual reasons.

      The truth is, without people pushing to do away with IE6 it wouldn't be much of a problem. Are there exploits? Sure, but it only takes one... tell us IE7, 8, or Firefox don't have any. The fewer people who use IE6 the less it will be targeted and the more secure by obscurity.

      As for not following web standards, if it came after modern browsers it would be a problem but since it came before and was the dominant browser for quite a while (taking heritage from IE4 and 5), the web had already set itself up to work with IE6 for better or worse so if websites are now incompatible it is only because webmasters chose not to support a browser which obviously still had a very large presence on the web.

      To use the words saddos, shit, moron and evil... well, it is unfortunate that we can't all make the world bend to what suits us the most but that's the way it is in all areas of life. No point whining about it, the solution is not to push people towards anything, just make your choices and move on yourself, letting them decide when to do the same.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      cant be done

      I have a customer who has an application that cannot run under anything other than IE6. The software company is not longer around but for the time being there's no other software than has the functionality so my customer has to stay on IE6.

      If IE6 stopped working I think the lawers would be involved for loss of earnings and the there's hints of the computer misuse act too.

      I would suspect the main reason for low uptake is that there's a lot of servers where admins have installed other browser alternatives to get around the browsers built in lockdown

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        @cant be done

        "If IE6 stopped working I think the lawers would be involved for loss of earnings and the there's hints of the computer misuse act too."

        Rubbish, all that MS need to do is formally drop all support for IE6. Then the onus is on the users to upgrade (which they should have done long ago) or face the inevitable security problems.

        Your boss' boss won't pay for the system to be fixed to be compliant? Well then, who is to blame when eventually it is hacked through a known unsupported package, and when this was also known all along by the management?

        After all, you don't get support for NT4 or W2k anymore, and who is liable there?

        And as for the systems that are no longer fixable due to companies being closed or taken over and products killed off, well who signed off the contract without source code escrow? Yes, I am in a belligerent mood tonight, but there is a lesson to be learned from our penguin friend.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No they won't

        "If IE6 stopped working I think the lawers would be involved for loss of earnings and the there's hints of the computer misuse act too."

        Good luck with that little fantasy. Been there, done that -- they're not going to be any help.

    4. Eddie Johnson

      One Problem With Your Scenario

      Sorry, the OSs which are still running IE6 most likely are doing so because MS illegally and illogically tied the browser to the OS. I bet NT4 and Win2K where you are not allowed to install any never version that are responsible for a large percentage of the IE6 instances. NT4 never had a remote auto patching facility and 2K issues its last patch 6 months ago so I doubt MS has the ability to force feed a poison pill to very many culprits.

      Frankly MS is now getting what they deserve - for not making IE7/IE8 available to Win2K users years ago, while Win2K was still supported. They tried to use the tie-together to force people to upgrade OS+Browser, instead many people chose to upgrade neither.

      Another way they screwed theirselves was by not allowing 2 browser versions side by side. That would have allowed corporates to upgrade to IE8 for internet while using IE6 for legacy intranet stuff.

  7. Tony Green
    Thumb Up

    At last!

    Microsoft do something I can agree with.

    The sooner this pile of crap dies the better.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Yup a pile of crap.

      So bad in fact that after ten years and three further versions (not to mention other browsers entirely) people are still using it. It might technically be crap but a lot of people are apparently still doing worthwhile things with it.

      There's a moral in there somewhere :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Those that are still using it are doing so because of legacy systems written at the height of the browser wars and are now locked in (no doubt Micros~1's initial intent) to a non-standards compliant system that they can only use one, 10 year old browser. This has backfired for both parties somewhat as, rightly or wrongly, devs the world over are rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of billing these people extortionate amounts to solve the problem they possibly caused in the first place! Sadly, Microsoft are expected to support IE6 until April 8th 2014. They need to bring this date forward by 2 years.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        and back to the place ...

        Where you think using IE6 until the end of time is going to be in any way profitable?

        Spending money *is* profitable on balance sheets where return for investment in standards is the reason. Its a perfectly acceptable accounting practice.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For the love of God

    Someone get the MoD to upgrade from IE6.

    Although seeing the amount they pay for lightbulbs I have a feeling that could write off the budget for the next decade or so...

    Still as long as I don't have to use it for anything important like changing the details of the bank account I'd like my pay to go into.... oh....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      God yes

      I seem to be emailing the helpdesk on a bi-monthly basis asking when they plan on moving out of the stone age, using a modern browser and lifting (or at least scaling back) their security policy so maybe even 50% of websites are useable.

      And lightbulbs arent the only thing that cost an arm and a leg. I've seen plenty of reciepts for mundane objects that have over inflated prices, often 10x retail cost or more. And that's only the start of it...

  9. Greg J Preece


    10% in Japan surprised me. A country renowned for technological advancement and achievement, and 1 in 10 still use IE6??

    1. Sid Sinister

      More Surprised at South Korea

      Seeing as South Korea have the world's fastest internet and is regular toted to be the country to have the most advanced consumer technology, so I am shocked at their IE6 use is 24.8%. I would have imaged that their IE6 usage would be non-existence.

  10. Gareth

    Corporate lock-in is the big reason for IE6 not being dead

    Working for a corporation with 20,000+ workstations and we *finally* got to drop support for IE6 from our consumer-facing websites this year. Internal websites still need to support it as there's around 1,000 systems that are locked in due to very expensive proprietary medical applications that only support IE6. Seriously considering picketing the vendor's office.

  11. Gilbert Wham


    I've worked in banks (Regal Scottish ones), that are still using IE4...

  12. Psycho Flump

    MS should grow a pair and...

    ... include some of the many JavaScript methods of crashing IE6. It's really quite cathartic, I include one on my personal site. Gives me a warm glow when I think of the occasional lazy fuckwit who won't upgrade that happens to wander my way.

    1. adnim

      So your site

      serves malicious code... Interesting that you should admit this in a public forum.

      There is no need to serve malware to break IE6, W3C standards compliant code is all that it takes.

      It is much more fun hoisting a miscreant on their own petard rather than providing one designed for the task ;-)

      <!--[if IE 6]>


      <p>This is an accepted international standards compliant website. It looks a mess doesn't it? That's because it will not render nor work correctly in your old proprietary standards browser.</p><br />

      <p>A more capable and compliant browser can be found <a href="">here</a></p>



      By the way, this code is copyright. You may not use, modify or disseminate this code without first paying the licence fee. ;-) If Oracle can do it, why can't I?

      Joke tag because my tongue is firmly in cheek, or indeed any cheek for an appropriate fee.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Use Javascript


      Surely you jest?

      1. Psycho Flump


        I should have been clearer, it's not malware, just some basic perfectly valid JavaScript that IE6 can't handle, that's the point :)

  13. Herby

    Software really NEVER dies...

    It just gobbles up more and more money in its support.

    I remember talking to someone who had to write support for WebTV (another Microsoft product) for their web site. He noted that given the user population that used WebTV and its cost to support it, he could GIVE those users who had WebTV a modern computer while dropping support for WebTV and STILL be ahead in his costing.

    Yes, IE6 will be around as long as stupid web sites REQUIRE it. Wonderful that a standards based implementation works SO well.

    Suggestion to Microsoft: Kill off IE7 and IE8. You will save a bunch of money and let everyone use Firefox, which is much more secure.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Real world stats

    Site I work on with a truly significant global audience, of the 80% on winIE, is split 3 ways (equally) between 6/7/8 according to GA stats. Right now.

    I'd break I down more but that's just the way it is... The lower end of the scale is Asia..

    We've started giving 6 the finger, but we make sure stuff works at least.

    Fail. Because I have to point it out.

  15. Richard Lloyd

    Countdown site with no countdown - MS idiocy again

    OK, so Microsoft put up an official IE6 Countdown site and then actually fail to provide any sort of countdown. You'd expect it to be a countdown the end of support for IE6, which is tied to the EOL of XP SP3, but this is so embarrassingly far away, there's actually no mention of it on the countdown site!

    For the record, IE6 loses support in an outrageously long time - 8th April 2014 - see:

    (it's the XP SP3 "end of extended support")

    So there should be a countdown timer on the site of 3 years, 1 month and a few days, but this would garner so much negative PR (just *why* are XP and IE6 supported for almost 13 years?!) that Microsoft have predictably chickened out from putting up that countdown.

    It is indeed amusing that Microsoft is officially admitting that one of their own products - that they are still officially supporting remember - is a total piece of garbage: "friends don't let friends use IE6" indeed! I thought that was a given for the years 2001-2014 inclusive :-)

    1. DR

      re: just *why* are XP and IE6 supported for almost 13 years?!

      Don't know about you, but I'd have thought a 13 year life cycle was actually something pretty amazing. and a very good thing.

      Just think how much time (=money) would have been lost by businesses upgrading in this time had they been using either Macs or Linux...

      and yes, those OS are great for me, at home where my time is free and I can upgrade whilst watching the tele in the evening. but not so great when you're a company paying a support department to plan the update, implement the update train the users etc...

      since XP came out, I think Fedora (as an example) has had 8 versions. ok perhaps you needn't retrain staff all the time, but that's still (possibly) 8 roll outs in 10 years. 8 rounds of testing all your apps, 8 rounds of pilot roll outs, 8 rounds of feedback sessions etc...

      That's quite a bit of money that IT depts are going to have to spend. possibly even outweighing the cost of having bought XP in the first place, (compared to a free OS)

      it's not as simple as my post makes out, but having a *very* stable OS is a good thing for businesses.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    W3C counter?

    That as impartial as the iPad I'm writing this comment with.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about custom apps?

    Killing IE6 is a nice idea but they let the genie out of the bottle with all of their proprietary extensions and now getting it back in is a problem. I a financial company that has loads invested in a CRM that absolutely NEEDS IE 6 or it does not run. The vendor of the product has moved away from their desktop & server app to a new SAAS app which is much more expensive and can not be adapted to the customers needs like their old product could (and is). This leaves the user of the proprietary IE6 encumbered software stuck in the dark age of IE6.

  18. Syntax Error

    IE6 High use in China

    Most probably due to pirated Windows. When users buy a cheap PC it comes with pirated XP. Automatic updates are turned off. Users are also ignorant of other browsers such as IE 7,8 and 9. No point Microsoft coming out with a patch to block IE6 as they don't update. Ignorance is bliss!!

  19. 10bottlesofbleach


    I just finished a contract for a English-language Japanese newspaper that uses Netscape 4.

    rally the death of ie8.

  20. Wibble

    What about IE7. And IE8...

    IE6 is a horrid, bug-ridden piece of junk. Always has been and was exacerbated by Microsoft's refusal to fix it.

    Then came IE7. Basically the same browser but with a new frock. Still as bug-ridden, still as unreliable and it too needs to be consigned to /dev/null.

    Then there's IE8. Better, benefiting from a big update to the underlying Trident engine, but it doesn't support the later web standards -- try the ACID3 tests for a laugh ( - scores 20/100). This too needs to be pensioned off as it's lack of support for the HTML5/CSS3 standards is holding back the web.

    What's left. Oh, the beta of IE9. Given that all the other browsers have severe limitations (that's being kind), it doesn't inspire confidence in Microsoft's development abilities.

  21. Matt Bradley

    This all makes's response to the "stop using IE6" petition all the more embarrassing:

  22. squilookle

    False Claims and/or poor maths

    If you have javascript turned off, it claims "[100%] of the world was using Internet Explorer 6, which was 9% lower than the previous year".

    Scary thought. Brown paper bag icon please? .

  23. Lance 3


    How long before MS s brought before the EU courts again? They take you to where you can go download the latest version of IE. On new computers they have to give the consumer a choice. Chances are, the reason why they use is installing IE6, they current computer cannot run anything later; you need SP2 or higher for XP to run IE7. Even then, why should someone be almost two releases behind what is current.

    So if MS really wants people to be on a modern browser then they should be providing links to Opera and Firefox.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Not a rewrite of history

    "Everyone loves to rewrite history. When IE6 first came out it was fantastic compared to the competition"

    No it wasn't. IE6 was quite an improvement compared to IE4 or 5. It was not bad compared to the competition, but really was not fantastic either. By then Netscape had released their code and mozilla was up to the 0.9 series (Netscape 6 was based on mozilla 0.9). Opera was comparable too. These both had the big advantage of being cross-platform.

    1. frank 3
      IT Angle

      mild revisionism...

      IE6 was streets ahead better than NN4.7, which was the main alternative when it came out.

      NN 4.7 was a developer's nightmare. Everything would always work in IE6 and be broken in NN. That's why I, and most of the developers I knew, called it 'Nutscrape'. 'twas fookin' awful. Was like supporting IE6 now. People would *groan* when I said NN suppport by the end.

      Netscape 6 was OK in comparison, but it was too little, too late. IE had won by then.

  25. Christian Berger

    What are the alternatives?

    To use newer versions of IE you'd have to upgrade Windows to at least Version XP which is essentially impossible in most companies.

    So what can you do? Switch to Firefox? Switch to Linux?

    Why doesn't Microsoft go forward and offer their newer browsers for their own operating systems?

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      What alternatives and why?

      Maybe MS are trying to make sure that older OS's are retired as well. I'm sure that IE8 could be made to run on XP, but why give users the choice to not pay MS more money by replacing the OS.

      Interestingly, I still run a system that I boot on occasion which is Win 2000 Pro. Firing up IE6 on this (IE 7 cannot be installed) already says "Install another browser", with a link to IE8 which then tells me it can't run on that OS.

      I know that Win 2000 is out of support now, so I have no cause for complaint (this system has some legacy payroll software that I can't re-install because of expired license key restrictions that allow me to run it in query mode, but not re-install it on another system - and the supplier no longer exists!), which I have to keep running for 3.5 more years to satisfy HMRC data retention requirements. It gets started about once every 6 months just to prove it still works.

  26. mark l 2 Silver badge

    death of XP

    All these big corps that still use their internal site that require IE6 are going to have to start to think of getting it their systems rewritten anyway as once XP falls out of support there will be no further patches for IE6 anyway and newer versions of Windows such as Vista and 7 never had IE6 installed.

    Im suprised that no software company has yet realeased an IE6 compatible browser that can be installed as a standalone application for those that need IE6 for internal use on newer versions of Windows. surely it cant be that difficult to take chrome or mozilla source code and add in the functions that IE6 included so that the internal sites still think they are running on IE6

  27. david 12 Silver badge

    Windows 98

    Still running IE6 and Firefox 2.x on Windows 98, because FF 3 and IE7/8/9 don't run on 98.

    By the way, the Win 98 machine seems to be virus imune: apparently modern virus writers don't support '98 either.

  28. AnoniMouse

    What's the incentive?

    Microsoft might have greater success in moving users from IE6 to IE8 if they had not introduced the new UI with IE7, which:

    a) craftily distrbutes the most frequently used button all across the window, in order to maxinise the distance the mouse has to be moved; and

    b) does not enable the user to configure the UI as was possible with IE6 (and still is with other leading browsers).

    Redmond needs to learn that one size does not fit all, and forcing continual, often unncessary change on users is a great way of alienating them and giving them a reason them to try alternative products.

  29. Richard Wharram


    Rolling out new corporate IE6-only apps throughout this year :)

  30. Rory Wilson

    Web developers?

    I'll bet a large chunk of that percentage are web developers checking their site works in IE6

  31. Conor

    Windows 98

    @david12: There are a lot of Win98 machines out there running on Pentium II 400 class hardware that seemed to be more reliable than MS would have wished for. I know someone who has such a machine and simply cannot afford to buy another. Nor does he see the point given that the primary use is POP email.

    But I guess the IPhone carrying Gossip Girl classes don't understand the concept of not having 500 quid lying around to blow on irrelevancies (and yeah, the net is way down the list)..

  32. Mark .

    Re: ha ha

    "IE 6 still has a greater market share than all opera version combined..."

    And modern IE versions still has greater market share than Firefox. Ha ha.

    Or maybe being more used doesn't mean it's necessarily better. I get tired of people whining about Opera - it's an excellent browser, but if you want to use something else, that's your choice.

    Opera was also about when IE 5 or 6 was the only alternative. When I switched from IE, Firefox wasn't even available, and I switched long before it became trendy to do so.

  33. Ornery

    Stop changing things

    I agree with AnoniMouse. I installed IE7, saw they'd moved everything just for the h*ll of it as they regularly do with all their software, and promptly un-installed it.

    Fail because I can't master Linux.

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