Why Internet Explorer 6 Refuses to Die

Internet Explorer 6 was one of the ways that Google and many other companies were attacked recently. Web developers have hated it for a long time because of its lack of stability and lack of standards support.

IE 6 is the default browser shipped with Windows XP, and routinely is placed into lists of one of the worst technical products ever. Google announced in January that they would stop supporting IE 6 (which means YouTube will no longer work in IE 6). The French and German governments strongly advised (link in French) against using Internet Explorer in January 2010, in part because of security risks in IE 6. There are campaigns everywhere advocating against the use of IE 6.

So why is it still alive and supported by Microsoft? Over at the IT Expert Voice, one writer was determined to find out. The article is very interesting, and listed a number of reasons that IE 6 is still being used in spite of it all:

  • Upgrades comes slowly. If you upgrade your systems on a three to five year cycle, then IE 6 is very likely still present on the network.
  • A critical application requires IE 6. This is quite unfortunate, but happens often enough. If the vendor hasn’t converted to a more standards-compliant environment, the users can’t either.
  • “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” This is almost a “head-in-the-sand” approach – or an extreme reluctance to upgrade at all. Hopefully, this is not common.
  • Using IE 6 can limit users to more appropriate sites. This reason is also incomprehensible: certainly the more popular sites will fail to work in the future with IE 6 – but IE 6 is also a security risk and more and more work-related sites will stop using IE 6 as well. I can’t imagine anyone would seriously use this as a reason to keep IE 6 – but apparently some have.

CNet also had an interesting article about why Intel continues to use IE 6; it is an excellent read.

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