Should Microsoft Kill IE6?

By  |  Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 9:05 am

Shoot IE 6A 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


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Andrew Mager Says:

    Yes. Yes, yes, yes 1,000 times. There is no good reason to keep IE6.exe in existence for even one more second.

  2. Steven Fisher Says:

    It’s hard to imagine 11 people so far have voted for “No, let the users run software that’s wide-open to anyone who cares to take advantage of it!” option.

  3. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    Nobody should force anyone to upgrade, but everyone should definitely drop all support for that hideous app that calls itself a browser… It’ll upset the last few morons that still seem to think IE6 does a fine job rendering webpages, but who cares about what they think anyway?

  4. Bouke Timbermont Says:

    @steven: I almost voted that, because nobody should ever be forced to upgrade.

    I voted for ‘drop all support’ though, cause just like the user can choose to keep using something, MS can choose to stop supporting it.

    If users don’t like the lack of support, that must mean something IS wrong with their browser, so they should switch.
    If they like the browser as it is (which they apparently do, since they are using it for almost a decade) they won’t mind the lack of support.

  5. jgoto Says:

    IE6 is mostly found in businesses running on older computers (like Win2K machines which couldn’t upgrade to IE7). Web developers if they feel like they can get away with it are perfectly within their rights to quietly discontinue support. Microsoft probably doesn’t have that luxury.

  6. tom b Says:

    They should kill IE 7 while they are at it. All versions of IE are already irrelevant because: 1) they are slower than other browsers 2) they are less secure than other browsers 3) their standards compliance is poor 4) MSFT itself stopped caring about browsers about 10 years ago– that’s when they dropped IE for Mac. Having crushed Netscape, Inc., and making NO money in the process, MSFT moved on to other, more exciting projects, like the Zune, but somehow forgot to fire the browser team. Maybe they wanted to keep them around some at least a FEW people on the planet would give a “poo” about Silverlight browser support….

  7. Matt R Says:

    Seems to me that Microsoft should be interested in helping its users to find the best possible solutions and user experience. If this is true, then they should do all they can to move people off of the IE6 disaster.

    It is logical that supporting an OS would required supporting the bundled browser, but why couldn’t they keep their commitment to “support” their OS, and simply require a browser upgrade to maintain that support? After all, there is no fee for an upgrade, and any reasonable person should see the many benefits, including security.

  8. snarkydan Says:

    according to eSarcasm, IE6 is already dead. authorities are questioning Mashable’s Ben Parr:


  9. John Baxter Says:

    Microsoft really doesn’t have much choice. It’s primarily their volume licensing customers who still run IE6, and they mostly still run it because they stupidly wrote in-house applications which count on the way it works. For them to stop using IE6 means rewriting working–if clunky–apps which are critical to those enterprises.

    And they keep using XP in part because that’s the only way they can run IE6.