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Posted at 1:51 PM ET, 03/ 4/2011

Microsoft is tired of Internet Explorer 6, too

By Rob Pegoraro

Four years ago, I upset a few readers when I declared in a blog post that I would no longer help them use Microsoft's already obsolete Internet Explorer 6 browser. IE 6 was too insecure, too slow, too clumsy and just too stupid for me to support, I wrote. The only way to fix it was to replace it with its successor IE 7, Mozilla Firefox or another worthy, non-obsolete browser.

Microsoft has been making the same point in the years since, but it's not stepping up its lobbying campaign with a site called "The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown."

A helpful graphic tracks IE 6's current market share, as estimated by Net Applications, and breaks it down by country. Although IE 6 is now down to 12 percent -- and only 2.9 percent in the U.S.-- it maintains a death grip on the market in China, with an embarrassing 34.5 percent share. South Korea, Taiwan and Japan have some explaining (and upgrading) to do, as well, with IE 6's share there estimated at 24.8 percent, 10.7 and 10.3 percent, respectively.

Elsewhere on the page, Microsoft encourages Web authors to add a special banner, viewable only to IE 6 users, urging them to upgrade. But Microsoft's own suggested upgrade--as highlighted at the top right corner of the page--is the "released candidate" version of its upcoming Internet Explorer 9.

Not only is that unavailable for Windows XP--the only still-supported Microsoft operating system that could conceivably have a copy of IE 6 onboard--it's not even a finished version. XP users would be better off switching to Mozilla Firefox or Google's Chrome. The latter has a slight edge in my book for its greater performance on older systems and a simpler auto-update system that also patches the crucial Flash and PDF plug-ins automatically.

But, really, there are few browsers available for download that wouldn't represent a major upgrade over IE 6. Microsoft is right here: You need to get rid of that browser. Finally.

I hope all of you did that long ago, but I fear that some of you know people still holding out--or who are stuck on IE 6 by an uncooperative IT department. Please share their stories in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  | March 4, 2011; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  Microsoft  
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Comments

I like the idea. I think Microsoft should lead the effort by including that banner on *ALL* their sites. Hotmail, Windows Live, Microsoft.com, MSDN etc should all have the banner. And if they are not already doing it, they should make it part of Windows update.

Posted by: tundey | March 4, 2011 2:42 PM | Report abuse

At the company where I work, the standard is IE7. The developers constantly complain. There are many UI bugs that exist only IE7, not Firefox, Chrome, or WinSafari.

Posted by: kflinch | March 4, 2011 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, Rob, the high Asian IE6 numbers are related to the systemic use of illegal copies of XP. Even pirates don't want to use Vista and 7's pretty hard to use w/o a real code, so they're stuck with 6.

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | March 4, 2011 4:20 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I stopped using Chrome when I realized it lacks -- by design -- a "Master Password" feature to hide the passwords it willingly stores.

Google claims that the MP offers false security, that if your machine is compromised, everything is. But I know from experience that if I sit down at a user's machine and need a few passwords (solely in my role as tech support), I can quickly pull most possibles from FF (or Chrome) as needed, unless the Master Password has been set. It's an egregious security hole and I don't allow my users to use it, accordingly.

Posted by: Bush--notrelated | March 4, 2011 4:23 PM | Report abuse

"the high Asian IE6 numbers are related to the systemic use of illegal copies of XP..."

Clearly that's true, but people with illegal copies of XP can visit firefox.com just like everyone else.

Posted by: sisina | March 4, 2011 7:27 PM | Report abuse

"Google claims that the MP offers false security, that if your machine is compromised, everything is. But I know from experience that if I sit down at a user's machine and need a few passwords (solely in my role as tech support), I can quickly pull most possibles from FF (or Chrome) as needed, unless the Master Password has been set. It's an egregious security hole and I don't allow my users to use it, accordingly."

...what an ass. The "security hole" here is in letting someone like you on their system in the first place who would engage in the unauthorized retrieval and use of private passwords. Any system can be compromised.

But there is not much that I hate worse than some dumb-ass security schmuck telling me what is and what is not "a security hole" and what I "can" and "can't" use on my system. As if they were going to take 100% responsibility for my system & network security all while making sure that I can do the job on it that I need to do in a practical and effective manner. Which they're not going to do. But they are so eager to pass judgment and "regulate". Go regulate your own damm PC and leave mine alone.

I was just going to post here that on my Ubuntu 10.04 machine FF apparently decided to upgrade itself (or maybe it was the system configuration manager in the middle of a patch/upgrade cycle) but this post brought back many nightmares. It doesn't matter what software you run, it can be hacked...as long as someone has access to your system, it's not secure. As long as you operate on the Internet, you are in an insecure environment. No IT goof can make your system 100% secure nor will they accept total responsibility for securing it or for the consequences of hostile action. There is always a risk from the moment that you enter valuable data on your PC. Just admit it and get out of the way and let us do the work that we are paid to do.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | March 5, 2011 1:24 AM | Report abuse

""the high Asian IE6 numbers are related to the systemic use of illegal copies of XP..."

Clearly that's true, but people with illegal copies of XP can visit firefox.com just like everyone else.
"

Yes and obviously they don't engage in upgrades simply because Americans say they should upgrade. Even if they are allowed to access the sites where such upgrades could be obtained, which is questionable.

I'm sure that there are plenty of Americans telling Asians that they should stop pirating software, how is that working?

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | March 5, 2011 1:27 AM | Report abuse

I mean this guy obviously isn't listening to himself talking about not letting users run a program because he can just get on their machine and access their stored passwords. The problem isn't their software. It's the fact that they store passwords on their system in the first place, and also that they allow some goof access to their system. But they can't control who has access to their system as long as they install ANY software or use any network communication that is not 100% under their control.

The mere fact that you have software on your system and it is connected to the Internet makes it a security risk. Anyone who says that you can use a networked computer securely is either lying or an idiot or both. Just as much as anyone who believes them.

The issue is to take risks on it that are commensurate with the benefits. But you can't do anything with them if you truly eliminate all "security threats". The machine itself is the main threat.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | March 5, 2011 1:36 AM | Report abuse

The high IE6 numbers in China are absolutely, positively related to software piracy. People with pirated copies of Windows XP are afraid to install anything from Windows Update lest it turn out to be a Genuine Advantage program that will disable their OS. So most computers in China are unpatched and horrifically insecure.

Posted by: bokamba | March 5, 2011 2:04 AM | Report abuse

If reader has vista or 7, IE9, RTM, now Available, Is as fast as Any. Easily best, right now.
next O/S is several years away, barely started in engineering, so quick by hand, update, as Not yet final, from Microsoft by seeking IE9 RTM on ms website will be extreme surprise in quality improvement.

thomas stewart von drashek

Posted by: ThomasStewart1 | March 5, 2011 2:52 AM | Report abuse

If reader has vista or 7, IE9, RTM, now Available, Is as fast as Any. Easily best, right now.
next O/S is several years away, barely started in engineering, so quick by hand, update, as Not yet final, from Microsoft by seeking IE9 RTM on ms website will be extreme surprise in quality improvement. IE9 RTM works on all languages.

thomas stewart von drashek

Posted by: ThomasStewart1 | March 5, 2011 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely AGREE IE6 got to go!

In addition, criticism against MS:
a) It's stupid not support IE8 on XP box, millions and millions of XP users would have to switch to Firefox or another browser. Extremely stupid of MS managers.
b) It's also stupid of MS to make IE9 look and feel more like Chrome. Google is your freaking ultimate competitor, so, it would make sense for you to more like Firefox, then, it may result in
IE + Firefox > Chrome

I begin to think many managers at MS are either too stupid or they simply are on the payroll of MS competitors.

Posted by: knowledgenotebook | March 5, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I still have a WIN98 machine that works fine. IE6 is the latest version that OS will support. I'm sure that there are others out there that don't want to upgrade their OS (read give more $$ to M$). So the solution is another browser.

Posted by: mbc1954 | March 5, 2011 11:50 AM | Report abuse

South Korea passed a law a number of years ago forcing people to use IE for banking web sites. So the banks coded everything to use IE 6, that is why they can not change. I hope business never lets one company take over the web again. Too many shops force people to use IE.

Posted by: info81 | March 5, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I mean this guy obviously isn't listening to himself talking about not letting users run a program because he can just get on their machine and access their stored passwords. The problem isn't their software. It's the fact that they store passwords on their system in the first place, and also that they allow some goof access to their system. But they can't control who has access to their system as long as they install ANY software or use any network communication that is not 100% under their control.

The mere fact that you have software on your system and it is connected to the Internet makes it a security risk. Anyone who says that you can use a networked computer securely is either lying or an idiot or both. Just as much as anyone who believes them.

The issue is to take risks on it that are commensurate with the benefits. But you can't do anything with them if you truly eliminate all "security threats". The machine itself is the main threat.

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | March 5, 2011 1:36 AM

======

Am I wasting my time and comfort by using a seat belt? I mean it doesn't provide 100% security from injury either. I doubt anyone reading here thinks that they have complete and utter security when connected to the internet with any combination of software. Save your breath.

Posted by: robert17 | March 5, 2011 3:30 PM | Report abuse

A major reason for IE 6, many applications were written around it. Some are upgradable, some not. IF Microsoft had stayed with the standards at the time, the problem would not exist. That's what happens when a manufacturer uses unique functions.

Posted by: gmclain | March 5, 2011 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Why stop at Internet Explorer? The smart move is to stop using Windoze altogether. There's a safe- and free!- alternative: Ubuntu Linux. Millions of satisfied users. Available here-
http://www.ubuntu.com/desktop/get-ubuntu/download

Posted by: hairguy01 | March 5, 2011 5:52 PM | Report abuse

My employer, which happens to be the largest engineering firm in the world (hint: the plural term for a Navy man) still uses IE6 because their IT group (recently sold-off to a French firm) STILL hasn't finished re-writing and certifying company app's to use something else. Fortunately, most everything I need to access will work quite well with Firefox, as I see no need to use another FUBAR from Redmond. BTW, any browser we use has to be compatible with XP64, as Vista64 and Win7-64 are not certified to work with our apps, either. When we receive laptops, they are downgraded to XP. Who needs the bloatware of Vista or Windows 7?

Posted by: jiji1 | March 5, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse

In China, Many web applications of banks and Government apartments had been codes based on IE6.
This situation forced people to use IE6. Many people have to use two or more browsers in their PC,such as IE6,Firefox and Chrome.

The situation is no any relationship with piracy.

Posted by: Gavin_Hu | March 6, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse

My office has a number of aging XP machines with 3+Ghz processors which are perfectly OK for word processing, spreadsheets, email and Internet use. We will run them till they drop and then buy new machines. This was a policy we originally adopted to successfully avoid Vista. IE8 runs well on them - for those rare occasions when we need it, but we generally use the alternatives.

Along these lines, I am surprised that Rob continues to ignore Opera in his discussions of alternative browsers. It is much faster and has a number of nice features.

Posted by: revanchist | March 6, 2011 4:58 AM | Report abuse

I am not using or planning to use IE6, so why should I care whether it goes or not?
I hate people mandating to others what they should do ... oh, yeah, and xenophobics.

Posted by: hock1 | March 6, 2011 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Rather than just adding a banner, it'd be more useful if they didn't allow sites to be used with IE6 at all.

If there's some OS level issue that sticks people with using IE6, it would behoove MS & other browser suppliers to provide a backwards compatible alternative. Forcing people into an OS upgrade over their browser is doomed to failure.

Posted by: Nymous | March 6, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I got tired of Microsoft a few years ago, and switched to Linux. I've never wanted to go back.

I just bought a new computer, it came with Windows 7. I used that for about a day, then upgraded it to Linux Mind Debian Edition.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | March 6, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

We Americans seem to have this passion for upgrading, I however have IE6 and I like it and will continue to use it. Remember liberals upgrade, conservatives retain.

Posted by: skr3211 | March 6, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Query: could the Chinese government be discouraging updates of IE6 (blocking sites, etc.) because they have some wormhole into IE6 that they can use for keeping tabs on people?
(BTW, skr3211, conservatives ought to be retaining the best, not everything as it was. I have an XP SP3 system at home, and I use Firefox for 99.9% of my browsing, b ut I also have IE8, just in case.)

Posted by: rcblair | March 7, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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