back to article Death of IE6 still greatly exaggerated, says browser hit squad

Internet Explorer 6 dead? In your dreams, Microsoft, in your dreams. Redmond broke out the dancing shoes and did a twirl on IE6's grave in January, citing data that showed its once-celebrated, now-hated browser had slipped below 1 per cent US market share. The decline followed some determined pushing by, of all people, …


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  1. Semaj

    Some companies will never update, just as some are still using mainframe systems. They will have to live with the repercussions of that decision. The decision being to become reliant on cowboy coder products that were designed only to work in IE6.

    I have been a web dev long enough to know that coding for IE6 only is an intentional decision made to increase support costs and is highly unethical. Any company fool enough to employ developers bad enough to do that deserves what they get.

    Or they can suck it up and deal with some change for once.

    1. Ben Holmes

      Change costs money. There's very rarely an ethic of 'spend to save' in the types of company you're thinking of. If there was, we wouldn't be in this mess.

    2. Kubla Cant

      A bit harsh

      Many of these IE6-only applications are probably legacy systems that were written at a time when IE6 dominated the market. It was only when standards-compliant browsers were more widespread that it really became clear that applications written for IE6 were not portable.

      I doubt that there are many cowboy developers who create bad or non-portable code with an eye to future support work. All the developers I know dislike support work, hate supporting old code, and utterly detest working on code designed for an obsolete platform.

      1. Tom 13

        Yep. While the battle between Netscape and MS led to

        browser innovation, the "standard" was whichever one of them had the largest market share when the question was asked. Although of course they did both join the standards setting bodies in which to continue duking it out.

  2. Magnus_Pym

    Good code dies quickly. Bad code lives forever.

    Isn't odd how we morn the short lives of great old games and stuff that burned bright but faded quickly. The Y2K code and IE6 web pages still live on long beyond their time.

  3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Move along now. Nothing to see here.

    "One problem: the aforementioned data, gathered by Net Applications, counts browsers running on Joe Netizen's PC. It doesn't count enterprise users."

    That's open to several readings, one of which is "this data counts internet usage, not intranet usage". But it does not matter if people are still using IE6-based applications on an intranet. What matters is that they use use a different browser to surf the web.

    That "different browser" can't be a later version of IE but every other browser *can* be installed side-by-side with IE6 so actually that's Microsoft's problem not the corporates'. Having installed a different browser, enforcement of its use is probably also something that a competent corporate admin can enforce and, on the Net Applications evidence, they are doing so.

    So the bottom lines are:

    IE6's share of the *browser* market is below 1%.

    It is safe for web page authors to drop all support for IE6.

    1. Tom 13

      Perhaps from a web developers perspective that's the bottom line,

      but it certainly isn't from a security perspective, and developers at various levels taking that attitude is precisely why security is the mess that it is.

      So long as the IE6 code is present on the machine it represents a security threat. Yes, the primary threat is to the recalcitrant Windows XP user, but as DDOS and other distributed attacks have proven, there are secondary effects even if you are running a more secure system yourself.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    La la la, Can't hear you!

    A decade ago I argued that we should not build IE6 specific web sites at work. I lost, apparently there was no other browser to support and it was easier to just do IE6. Now it's all panic as corporate don't know what to do now that they backed themselves into a tight space they don't want to be in.

    I'm in a different department now and I can't hear their screams...

    Unfortunately the smug feeling of knowing I was right won't compensate for the cost of the company digging it's self out the mess it got into, against expert advice.

    1. Ian Ringrose

      How much money has been saved over the 10 years by not making the internal web apps support many ill-defined fast moving standard that no browser kept to at the time?

      How much greater was the users productivity by having a better UI by making use of IE6?

      (10 years ago, it was sensible in lots of cases just to support IE6, the problem are the corporations that have not upgraded their web apps in the meantime. I don’t believe that a HTML 5 app written today will work in 10 years’ time without issues due to changes that always happen to the web)

      1. Ignazio

        HTML hasn't been moving very fast. Ill defined, I wouldn't think so. "Embrace and extend" was invented a few years before IE but it was used for the exact purpose of cornering the market and lock in developers and users of such sites; a common enough business practice, might or might not be liked by the user. Apparently they don't like it any more.

    2. Fatman

      RE: I can't hear their screams...

      YOU can however ensure that those in manglement (IF they are still employed at your company) have to atone for their sins.

      IOW - you scream "I TOLD YOU SO!!!!!!" at the top of your lungs. Now is the time the shit hits the fan.

      Where is the bucket of shit icon.

    3. Tom 13

      Six years ago I will agree with you whole heartedly.

      Seven to 10 years ago I would have leaned that way. But some of these apps were being developed 12-15 years ago and there weren't any obviously superior choices. And those are the ones with the highest and most complicated transitions. The expectation was that MS would migrate the necessary functionality as they moved to newer versions of the software. The reality was that the very functionality that made it possible to build the apps was also at the heart of the security vulnerabilities for Windows. And as we now know, building secure apps is even more expensive than building modular apps that work with standards compliant technology.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The really scary part of IE6

    Is that all the banks using it, and large manufacturing and utility companies are still on it.

    The bullet ridden, virus encrusted browser is then enabled for staff to browse the Interweb.

    Can you say Cavity Violation? I knew you could!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I personally in the space of a month wrote enough code to keep one of the larger UK banks stuck completely on IE4 for at least 3 years after IE6 came out. That contained every IE6-specific flaw and a whole bunch more problems thrown in for free. For all I know they're still on IE4 now...

  6. The BigYin

    And this is why... should avoid proprietary methods. The lock-in will bite you, and everyone else, in the ass.

    1. The BigYin


      It would be even better if the Browsium code could let IE6 apps run inside proper browsers (such as FF, Opera, Safari etc).

      1. Jess

        let IE6 apps run inside proper browsers (such as FF

        as IETab does? (assuming you still have IE 6 installed)

        1. The BigYin


          Ah, but you still need IE6 (as yiou point out). Don't think you'll get that on Windows7.

          IETab is good, but it is just a wrapper around an IE window really.

  7. JDX Gold badge

    "coding for IE6 only is an intentional decision to increase support costs & is highly unethical"

    I disagree. When IE6 was new, it offered some pretty cool (to a nerd) possibilities which were not available in other browsers, or or would require a lot more work when nobody would dream of not using IE in enterprise.

    It's been too long to be authoritative but examples like interop with Excel spring to mind - being able to actually open Excel inside a web-page. I'm sure there are others too. Us coders love to use fancy new APIs that do "something cool".

    And, @BigYin... grownups talking. Don't embarrass yourself talking about 'proper browsers'

    1. JimC

      pretty cool (to a nerd) possibilities

      They were only pretty cool to shortsighted kiddies who hadn't spent years fighting with interoperability problems. Some of the rest of us were less impressed.

      1. hplasm



        was *never* cool, JDX.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "pretty cool (to a nerd) possibilities"

      Doesn't sound like a grown-up talking !

      "Us coders love to use fancy new APIs that do "something better"

      Fixed that for you

    3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Say that again

      What, apart perhaps from XmlHttpRequest, did IE 6 give us? As a browser it was shit from the word go, though hardly anyone noticed as Mozilla went down the dark and blind alley of XUL.

      Back then it was generally considered among the developers I worked with to be bad practice to do IE 6 only work. The legacy crap (SAP, Siebel, etc.) that we're still dealing with should never have been written as websites. It was done because of the hype but was broken by design because it was IE and MS Windows specific. No point in wasting browser runtime in that context.

      ActiveX and thus IE was a requirement in countries like Korea which were not allowed 128-bit encryption until the export restrictions were relaxed. This explains the relatively high percentage of IE in some countries: retooling is essential but expensive.

      Where IE, warts and all, did play a big part was when developers wanted to include browser functionality in their Windows deskop program. Perfectly legitimate decision assuming you can swap the component out for cross-platform development or just to keep in step with the MFC or later .NET CLR releases. Adobe did this with the help system.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "IE6 is dug in like a First World War sniper."

    Make it a "World War II Japanese Insular soldier that was dug in deep for 30 years after the war was over". There fixed it for you.

    Like the soldier, the supply lines were cut off, and he was not informed that the war was lost and that he should surrender arms.

  9. yossarianuk

    I.E 6 Is an example of why Microsoft's monopoly harm innovation

    This is a prime example of how Microsoft's monopoly is harming technological advancement of the human race.

    The fact that corporations are locked into using this hideous browser is because websites were not designed with open standards in mind - who's fault is this........ (the reason that people are trapped into using i.e 6 is outlined in the policy document - - i.e using their monopoly to prevent innovation)

    Its worse when you consider that every tax payer funds MS and they use our funding to try to restrict competition using unfair (and occasionally illegal) methods.

    They may have had a better product in the mid 90's when they gained their monopolist position - since then they put more effort into preventing competition (and thus attacking the ability for mankind to advance technologically)

    If anyone here is to say ' they have changed now' - they have NOT

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You seem a little short sighted

      You're complaining about a problem that to me, seems endemic of the IT industry. You only need to do a search for Apple sue Samsung to find that it's not just Microsoft that are doing such things. The IT industry has bigger problems than Microsoft these days.

      Also, how are US citizens funding Microsoft? I'd quite like to see some evidence of that please.

  10. lurker

    Conflict of interest?

    So, a company which earns revenue by providing compatibility services for old browsers is providing 'data' which says that everywhere is still using 80% IE6 in the environment. Why exactly would anyone trust them on that? They are hardly going to say "nobody uses IE6 anymore, don't buy our product!", are they?

    Quite likely 80% of their customers still have IE6. But then that's pretty much stating the obvious, given the nature of their business.


    1. auburnman

      I would trust them on it because they make money by providing services to customers who are (or think they are) stuck with IE6 for various reasons. Why would they lie about their potential customer base? Exaggerating the figures isn't going to magic more customers into existence for them.

      More likely they only wanted to use the media to promote themselves, presumably in the hope that there are still a few more managers out there pooping a lung over the IE6 dependency they need to deal with.

    2. teebie

      If it's a lie who is the target?

      Imagine a sales pitch

      "Buy our product, 80% of companies still use ie6"

      "We don't"

      "Oh. Oh dear"

      UNless they have an IPO coming up I don't see what deceit would gain them

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " They are hardly going to say "nobody uses IE6 anymore, don't buy our product!", are they?"

      After all the court troubles about them including IE free with Windows, probably not. If you mean WIndows - well, your statement wouldn't make any sense so I presume you didn't.

  11. tkioz

    You know how you kill IE6? Get google, facebook, and youtube to block it with an update page linking to the top browsers, simple as that. Bang it's dead within days.

    1. dotdavid


      Google *does* block* browsers earlier than IE8 on most of their web-apps (although notably not search). Didn't make much difference to *our* corporate IT, and we're an IT firm, so I doubt it would make much difference to t'others.

      On IE8 finally now that they've managed to upgrade the intranet app that was reliant on IE6/7 but I feel for those less fortunate.

      Not sure why the firms can't run IE6 for their intranet and install Firefox or whatever as a secondary browser for internet (with appropriate group policy settings) but I'm no expert.

      (* Well, make their sites look rubbish and pop up a warning recommending an upgrade anyway, which is a bit like a block)

    2. JimC

      Won't work...

      We block facebook and youtube and all the google stuff except search anyway, and I don't supose we are the only large organisation to do so. When you regularly get FOI requests on users browser habits from journos on a fishing expedition you make damn sure the stats don't come up with too many hits on stuff you don't want to see in the local paper...

    3. RAMChYLD

      Good plan, but...

      The same enterprises that forces IE6 down the throats of it's employees are the same ones that're blocking Youtube and Facebook among other social and video sites, considering them counter-productive.

    4. Tom 13

      The problem for the installed IE6 base isn't knowledge of

      or the availability of alternate browsers. It is that they have some app, probably developed internally back in the dark ages when programs could do hex calculations in their heads, which is now business critical and doesn't run on anything newer. I hated those issues when we were trying to migrate from IE6 to IE7 and IE8 was now the preferred MS platform and conforming to most standards. Although there are notable commercial exceptions.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just IE6...

    Business critical apps written in Oracle Forms that rely on specific versions of JInitiator (that are only certified for certain versions of IE). So try to pick a path where server side, client side (+plugins) for multiple line of business apps all get updated independently (because they've all got different development roadmaps) and get us off XP at the same time and don't break anything in the process.

    It's a laugh a minute...

    1. Fatman

      RE: and don't break anything in the process.

      And don't forget, that it is imperative to `increase shareholder value` whatever the fuck THAT means.

      BTW, this message is brought to you by manglement, who possesses shit for brains.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yep. I work somewhere that we are force to use

      a version of Java 5 to support a business critical app. I Sun had pulled support for it two years before I started this job, and I'm getting on toward 3 years here.

      Anonymous because the application is one that shouldn't be on something that out of date, and supports information that while you want it to be public at some point, you don't want hacked in the interim. Heap big bad juju waiting there. Heap big.

  13. Jamie Kitson


    Had to warn a customer (a council that sounds like a vital organ) that I wouldn't be supporting IE6 after they sent me screen shots of the work they wanted done on IE6.

  14. Graham Bartlett

    Can't believe no-one's done this yet

    The cake is a lie.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The cake is a lie."

      Most things from MS are a lie, the rest are wrong

  15. Steve King


    Most corporate IT would not cave in if the users got locked out of these sites - even Google search. They would just define it as 'not required for the user's job function' and close the support call - even if the user works in a role not understood by anyone in IT.

    Yes, it does keep happening to me.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Steve King

      Lucky you can find The Register in office hours, eh? Assuming you're in Britain's time zone, of course ...

  16. the-it-slayer

    Pie in the sky figures, what?

    I'd love to know who plucked 80% out of the air as a statistic (implying to the el reg comments here). Anyone done a survey asking major corp's what their IE policy is? Could be 50%, could be 60%, could be a 1000000%? We don't know. There's an implication that there's a blanket policy for IE6 in these corps? Surely with the tools (AD to boot), they'll upgrade from IE6 where possible (for people who don't need the aging CRMs etc).

    Microsoft probably don't care. As long as they don't get screams from the big corp's when the security patches stop coming out.

    I'll get the beer out again. I like to quench my first with a pint of cider. Care to join MS to care"less" about IE6.

  17. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Lesson Learned?

    Next time someone talks you into coding for a proprietary platform, you'll remember the last time it happened.

    1. Tom 13

      Actually it's better not to.

      Even if you remember what happened the last time, you still get stuck with it. Better a little happiness than all dreariness or fear as you await your impending doom.

      Where is the Zephod's sunglasses icon?

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