On Computers: Still using IE6? Get out of the Dark Ages

Jim Hillibish

It’s unprecedented. Microsoft has launched a web site pleading with consumers not to use one of its products, the old Internet Explorer 6 browser. It’s at www.theie6countdown.com.

IE6 was incredibly popular when it was released in 2001. Its big push was being the default browser in the new, widely popular Windows XP. It soon did not stand up.

Users were cussing it for its many bugs. This is the time when hackers discovered the Net. IE6 was an open door to them. It soon was on the magazine lists of “the 10 worst tech products of all time.”

Despite this, IE6 dominated the browser world. More than 90 percent of all browsers installed in 2005 were IE6.

Since then, two revamped Explorer versions have arrived and Explorer 9 is in release-candidate testing. Still, people keep using IE6.

Highest 6 usage is in China, 35 percent of all browsers, followed by South Korea at 25 percent. Worldwide, 12 percent of all browsers are IE6. Microsoft wants that figure  to drop to 1 percent this year. We’ll see.

IE6 drives webmasters crazy. It does not support modern Web programming. This means they must spend many hours creating old-fashioned web sites that can handle IE6 traffic.

Life with IE6 is like the stagecoach days. Almost none of the browser add-ons such as Flash players and toolbars will work with 6. Video will crash it. Many scripts automating the web will choke it. It’s ponderous running, and not secure.

The campaign to rid the world of this old browser gains speed as many web developers now are refusing to do the double programming for IE6 users. The most notable is Google, which recently quit supporting it with some applications.

Microsoft is incredulous that IE6 users hang on. All Internet Explorer and other browsers are free. All it takes is a visit to microsoft.com to pick up a download to IE8.

Many users on older gear probably are running IE6 and do not know it. To check the version number, launch Internet Explorer browser (you do not need to be connected to the Internet). Click on Help. Scroll down and click on “About Internet Explorer.” This will give you the version number.

For an updated browser, go to www.microsoft.com.

Click on “Windows Downloads” and scroll down to Internet Explorer. Note that Internet Explorer 9 RC is being offered. This is the “release candidate,” meaning the browser is not yet ready to ship in its final version. RC versions are offered for public testing. Many times, they are very close to the final software but may have undiscovered bugs.

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.