A few weeks ago, a blog post at Digg talked about Internet Explorer 6, the challenges Web sites have in continuing to support it, and the declining-but-still-meaningful percentage of Web users who run it–often because it’s still the browser provided at work. IE honcho Dean Hachamovitch responded yesterday at the official IEblog: “The choice to upgrade software on a PC belongs to the person responsible for the PC.”
Of course, it’s not that simple. Microsoft, like all software companies, eventually terminates support for previous releases of its products. That don’t force you to update, but it provides a gigantic incentive to do so, which is presumably one reason why software companies do it.
Later in his post, Hachamovitch says:
The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments. Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have.
Or in other words: Microsoft doesn’t want to stop supporting part of a product, and therefore thinks it should support IE6 until it stops supporting versions of Windows that include IE6.
If I have this right, even the newest version of XP, Windows XP SP3, includes IE6. Microsoft officially ended “mainstream support” for XP on April 14th of this year, but “extended support” is scheduled to continue on until April 8th, 2014. Which would mean that Microsoft’s official policy would be to take no steps until then to murder IE6, although usage at that point would likely be tiny.
(For the record, about seven percent of visits to Technologizer are made via IE6, and I’m guessing most of them come via PCs under the control of conservative IT people.)
Anyhow, here’s today’s T-Poll