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A long-overdue concession in the browser wars
March 4, 2011 10:15 AM   Subscribe

The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown: Moving the world off Internet Explorer 6. An interactive tracking tool brought to you by Microsoft.
posted by ardgedee (76 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I feel like I'm looking at a CDC map of an infection now, thankfully, regressing.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:19 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heh. This is as close to self-consciousness as I can recall Microsoft being in some time. Also, I wouldn't have guessed that South Korea would have the largest remaining user base (by percentage) of ie6, since they tend to be ahead of the pack in many tech ventures.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great idea and I applaud MS for doing it. I applaud them even more for the banner, which just says to "upgrade for free" but doesn't read like an ad for IE. (Although if you click the link, it's only available for Windows users. But probably only Windows users are seeing the banner in the first place. Windows 95 users, all of them, probably.)

It looks like only China is still heavily into IE6. Maybe (American, at least) web designers should just drop support for IE6 for economic warfare reasons.

(I don't get why China, etc use pirated copies of Windows when free operating systems exist that very arguably would also work better.)
posted by DU at 10:20 AM on March 4, 2011


I feel like I'm looking at a CDC map of an infection now, thankfully, regressing.

Watch out for Madagascar!
posted by kmz at 10:21 AM on March 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


eyeballkid: "I feel like I'm looking at a CDC map of an infection now, thankfully, regressing."

"You have a bad case of IE6. Fortunately, I can give you something to clear that right up."
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the idea, but I'm confused by the interface. Is it possible to move the map back and forward in time, or are we just looking at a static shot of Feb 2011?
posted by roll truck roll at 10:22 AM on March 4, 2011


I don't get why China, etc use pirated copies of Windows when free operating systems exist that very arguably would also work better.

You know why. Games.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:23 AM on March 4, 2011


Now that I see the map in that light, killing off IE6 would make a great back story for a Pandemic expansion.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you view with Javascript disabled, 100% of the world is still using IE6.
posted by the latin mouse at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


Oh yeah, I guess it could be games. I was thinking of the pirated copies running in sweatshops and the like, but they could very well be using Debian or something there already with Windows in the residential cases.
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on March 4, 2011


DU: "But probably only Windows users are seeing the banner in the first place. "

Most likely. Microsoft stopped the production of IE for Macs at version 5.2.3. Anyone running a Linux distro is probably using something superior, unless they need to test sites for IE6 compatibility.
posted by zarq at 10:25 AM on March 4, 2011


Die, IE6, die!

TBH not a bad browser for it's time, which was 10 years ago. I mean, at least it doesn't have the CSS box model problem you'd have to work around if you were still supporting 5.5...

But enough is enough, die, zombie browser, die!

(IE8, the last IE to work on XP, will of course be joining it in zombie status)
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on March 4, 2011


IE9 is so Google Chrome-y.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on March 4, 2011


> Maybe (American, at least) web designers should just drop support for IE6 for economic warfare reasons.

It depends on the user demographic. Websites targeting the poor or people working in heavy industry (don't bother drawing your own connections; it just is, okay?). Not supporting IE 6 in, say, a social services website amounts to failing your audience. By contrast, a website targeting, say, interior decorators has no reason to support IE 6.
posted by ardgedee at 10:28 AM on March 4, 2011


Windows 95 users, all of them, probably.

heh. The worlds remaining Win 95 users probably have Netscape 4 or something equally horrific. IE6 on the other hand is the default browser of a completly unpatched install of Windows XP. Think about the horrible implications of that if you will.
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


"You have a bad case of IE6. Fortunately, I can give you something to clear that right up."

"If Dr. zarq prescribed Firefox to you without verifying that you had extremely high levels of RAM, you may be qualified to participate in a class action suit. Call the law offices of Curley & Associates now.

We will lead you to believe that you'll receive a large check, but you won't actually get enough money to buy a large pizza and Curley & Associates will be swimming around in a vault ala Scrooge McDuck. "Associates" means a couple of actual, recent J.D.'s nagging insurance companies while the principle hangs around in the tropics making serious-faced, black-and-white advertisements filled with fake empathy for your mostly-fake injuries. Dr. zarq is a nice guy who's earnestly trying to help you but you want to be rich, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Of course if I think about this too long I realize I have been doing this shit well over a decade and have wasted my brain on learning workarounds and skills that no-one will ever need ever again, like pixel perfect table based layouts...
posted by Artw at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"If Dr. zarq prescribed Firefox to you without verifying that you had extremely high levels of RAM, you may be qualified to participate in a class action suit. Call the law offices of Curley & Associates now.

In defense of memory hogs Firefox and Chrome (and knowing that you weren't being totally serious), I'm finding that 80% of my time on a computer is now working within the browser. So I can justify the RAM usage because it's become my primary application.

Firefox's ability to crash at the slightest provocation on any of my computers, however, is another problem entirely.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:42 AM on March 4, 2011


In about 3 days in 1886, workers moved 11,000 miles of railroad track three inches to standardize the gauges. They got that done a lost quicker than this IE6 deal.
posted by marxchivist at 10:46 AM on March 4, 2011 [17 favorites]


I assume that mefites are too cool for Firefox and IE, and that we all run things like Lynx. You know, a GOOD browser, not whatever the hoi polloi run.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe the South Korea problem is specifically because they were ahead of the pack... 10 years ago. They were one of the first countries to do widespread online banking, but they didn't trust the current 40-bit SSL standard, so they created their own 128-bit national encryption system using ActiveX plugins (SEED) - and I believe its use for banking is even required by law.

Subsequent upgrades to IE and Windows have tended to cause problems with this ActiveX control, so users that want to do online financial transactions (everyone) are pretty much locked into IE6 to this day, from my understanding, because industry and government have been extremely slow to address the issue.

Some background info here: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2010/05/123_52401.html
posted by chundo at 10:48 AM on March 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think Firefox is probably my browser of choice due to Firebug and a handful of useful development toolbars - I should really look inti the equivalent on Chrome some time.
posted by Artw at 10:48 AM on March 4, 2011


Stagger Lee: "I assume that mefites are too cool for Firefox and IE, and that we all run things like Lynx. You know, a GOOD browser, not whatever the hoi polloi run"

Web browsers? Son, we're so awesome we do it with GOPHER!
Okay, at least we did until June 21, 2001.
posted by charred husk at 10:52 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


heh. The worlds remaining Win 95 users probably have Netscape 4 or something equally horrific. IE6 on the other hand is the default browser of a completly unpatched install of Windows XP. Think about the horrible implications of that if you will.

Gargg. Not a nice thought. Though, the highest IE you can install on Windows 2000 is IE6; IE7 was XP only. We've still got a small handful of boxen running our old Win2k image (with firefox, at least) as they've locally installed 'crucial' ancient software that the install CDs have long since disappeared for, and porting them across by hand is a time-consuming process that's not even possible in some cases. (old registry-hack DRM education software written for windows 95, how I loathe thee). On the plus side, the last netscape user has finally retired, so we've been able to steal their PC and bring it up to date before their replacement starts.

Hopefully we'll be able to euthanize the last windows 2000 holdouts before we finish the Windows 7 rollout.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile I am reading Korean news reports that S. Korean government sites, including the presidential office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the National Intelligence Service, as well as several banks, have been hit by massive DDoS attacks. I want to blame IE6 somehow.
posted by needled at 10:55 AM on March 4, 2011


Holy shit, Metafilter ran a Gopher server once upon a time? That's fucking awesome. Hmm, it seems there exists an RSS -> Gopher interface...

(I still use Lynx once in a while to check on something. And Opera is my favorite browser by far, but I always have tabs open in Chrome and Firefox too.)
posted by kmz at 10:56 AM on March 4, 2011


I assume that mefites are too cool for Firefox and IE, and that we all run things like Lynx. You know, a GOOD browser, not whatever the hoi polloi run.

elinks all the way, baaaaby. Well, on the servers, anyway.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:57 AM on March 4, 2011


Weirdly if you build a page right using CSS and modern techniques* it's going to look a hell of a lot better than in paleobrowsers than something built with circa-1999 hacky layout tricks.

* ok, maybe not if you require JS or CANVAS or have one of those dweeby HTML5 badges on your site and a message about how you are too cool to write stuff that degrades properly.
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on March 4, 2011


According to my process table, I've been running Firefox continuously for 50 days. That is, without even restarting the browser. I generally only have to restart my browser when I reboot my computer, which happens every few months (mainly when I have to cut the power or a kernel upgrade forces me to). So I don't know what this unstable talk is come from.

As for a memory hog: I agree with the above that it's what I spend most of my time in, so I don't mind it using a non-insignificant amount of my RAM. Right now, top reports that it's at 4.4%. Granted, that 4.4% of 8GB but that's after 50 days of continuous running, too, with Flash videos and junk being run. By contrast, Minecraft uses about 20% of my RAM before I even start playing.
posted by DU at 11:05 AM on March 4, 2011


A not so fun thought for the future is what havok browser holdouts are going to cause now the great and the good have decided to move multimedia capabilities out of plug-ins and into browsers.
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on March 4, 2011


Wow, really? Which version of Firefox do you have? Every web browser I've used gobbles up memory like crazy, and I have to restart them once every few days. Admittedly, I do tend to way overuse tabs (bookmarks? what bookmarks?) so that doesn't help.
posted by kmz at 11:10 AM on March 4, 2011


Just sent this to my boss. Why? Because although we are a huge company and it is March 2011, we are still on fucking Win95/IE6 (officially; many of us have downloaded Firefox unofficially, because we aren't masochists, but technically, this violates our compliance rules).

Sadly, my boss is not in IT or high up, so probably nothing will happen until we actually lose an expensive chunk of data or there is no more support available.
posted by emjaybee at 11:14 AM on March 4, 2011


(IE8, the last IE to work on XP, will of course be joining it in zombie status)

Depressingly true.

I'm not really excited about IE9 either. Yeah, I know what the IE9 team said in response. The focus on speed and js/media capability over layout suggests to me they want to impress users but still aren't focused on everyday issues that people producing documents have. I appreciate the fact that an increasing portion of the web is applications, but for heaven's sake, make the foundation stuff easy-peasy first. Text-shadow and css gradients and in particular the flexible box model solve everyday problems for web developers.

Or, you know, they could push the extra work onto the hundreds of thousands of web authors/developers out there, just like they did for IE6 for years.

Why, yes, I am still bitter.
posted by weston at 11:16 AM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh Jesus, I checked out the site from within IE6 and it's not loading. THE IRONY, I CAN'T TAKE IT.
posted by emjaybee at 11:17 AM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


There I fixed it:

<!--[if lt IE 666]> <div style="clear: both; height: 59px; padding:0 0 0 15px; position: relative;"> <a href="http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/"> <img src="http://www.ie6countdown.com/images/upgrade.jpg" border="0" height="42" width="820" alt="" /> </a> </div> <![endif]-->
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


An old client of mine used to have a customer resolutely using Firefox 1.7.3. On OS/2. To do their Internet banking. In 2007.
posted by rodgerd at 11:28 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll bet a that a large portion of the 3% of Canadians still on IE6 are government computers . . . the entire civil service is still using it, although we've finally gotten the announcement that we will be upgraded to IE8 soon. Still using XP though.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:29 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sad character that I am, I tried to watch live coverage of the press conference from the NPC meeting on one of the net portals here in China, only to find that the stream was IE-only. Constructing a harmonious modern socialist society me arse.
posted by Abiezer at 11:33 AM on March 4, 2011


I think Firefox is probably my browser of choice due to Firebug and a handful of useful development toolbars - I should really look inti the equivalent on Chrome some time.

It has a native, pretty robust developer pane that's almost exactly the same as firebug. It even pops up from the bottom like firebug, just much quicker.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:35 AM on March 4, 2011


Wow, really? Which version of Firefox do you have?

3.6. And I use a lot of tabs too. I have 15 open right now, 3 of which have Flash content on them.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on March 4, 2011


elinks all the way, baaaaby. Well, on the servers, anyway.

I'm more a w3m guy myself.
posted by fings at 11:39 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know that the last large financial company (~40,000 employees) that I worked for used IE6 because they'd built a bunch of internal apps that were now business-critical that would not work outside of IE6 without being rewritten. The cost of that migration/upgrade looked to be pretty huge and so had been deferred for as long as possible. Isn't that a fairly common situation for businesses to have found themselves in?
posted by MUD at 11:40 AM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now that I see the map in that light, killing off IE6 would make a great back story for a Pandemic expansion.

This would be fun to work on, unfortunately I don't have that game. Something to add to the list, I suppose.

Also, BRING BACK METAGOPHER!
posted by JHarris at 11:41 AM on March 4, 2011


I know that the last large financial company (~40,000 employees) that I worked for used IE6 because they'd built a bunch of internal apps that were now business-critical that would not work outside of IE6 without being rewritten. The cost of that migration/upgrade looked to be pretty huge and so had been deferred for as long as possible. Isn't that a fairly common situation for businesses to have found themselves in?

Oh, definitely. I'm in that boat right now. We're also still using Windows 2000.

Our primary software, used by every single employee, was developed in the 80's. It's as old as I am.

We are just (JUST!) beginning the transition to Windows XP. I've gotten to use a few of our "updated" systems. . . They're still running IE 6.
posted by smitt at 11:42 AM on March 4, 2011


I've been using CSS 3 PIE recently as a means of getting corner rounding, shadows and gradients on IE8 and under using only CSS to define them - it's not perrfect but it seems to more or less do the job. I'm less and less willing to make concessions beyond that, and TBH think that really I should be giving them square corners and they'd be fine with it, but weirldly the designers I work with feel otherwise.

Designers... I tell you, the moment CSS corners are supported in all common browsers will be the moment they lose all interest in them.
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


We gave up supporting less than IE7 a couple of years ago. If they need IE6 support, we tell them they have two choices: a really hefty surcharge (like 50% of the development budget) or they go with a simple "text only-ish" layout that would be presented to older browsers.

I've always thought of 5% as the magic number to legitimately stop actively supporting an elderly browser. None of the stuff I do won't work as far as presenting information in an older browser, but it may look kinda crappy.
posted by maxwelton at 11:50 AM on March 4, 2011


At work, we collaborate with one of the world's largest companies. They sent us 10 page PCI compliance papers to fill out before we could get access to some data sharing sites. The sites require IE6, but helpfully they also support Netscape Navigator and AOL Browser (I called support and had to ask if that last part was real). Their SSL certs have also been out of date for a year. Paper security FTW!
posted by benzenedream at 11:54 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Designers...

I'm so so happy I work where 99.9% of what I develop is Intranet only for salesfolk and engineers who don't care about drop shadows or rounded corners. I make sure things aren't completely fugly, but otherwise it doesn't matter, as long as I've got good data and visualizations (which is different from design).
posted by kmz at 12:01 PM on March 4, 2011


Burhanistan: IE9 is so Google Chrome-y.

Yeah, and google search is becoming so bing-y. I really fucking wish both these companies went back to innovation and carving their own niche, rather than this cargo cult mentality of aping the look of each other's products.
posted by inedible at 12:10 PM on March 4, 2011


(Not that design and what designers do aren't important. I'm just glad I don't have to deal with it.)
posted by kmz at 12:11 PM on March 4, 2011


This site is fantastic, and bravo to Microsoft. I'd like to know two things:

How correct are the states about browser usage? I've seen various places publish data on browser marketshare and the data is always widely divergent, with (for instance), Chrome being anywhere from 2-15% of users. Is there some standard fair sample we all agree on? It's a particularly hard problem internationally.

Why is China so dramatically different? Up above people refer to the prevalence of pirated copies of Windows, but I don't think that explains it; pirates can steal IE just like the rest of the OS. Could it be because IE7+ requires Windows XP or greater and so freezes out Windows 98, ME, NT, or 2000?
posted by Nelson at 12:12 PM on March 4, 2011


If they have this much trouble just retiring IE6, they're gonna be stuck providing security updates to XP for at least another decade.
posted by straight at 12:20 PM on March 4, 2011


I quit my job as a web developer because of IE6. I vowed never to do web development again until I didn't have to pander to IE6 anymore. The problem is that for a company that gets 4 million hits a day, >1% using IE6 means 40,000 visitors a day using IE6. And they're not going to stop using IE6 until the websites stop supporting it. And the websites won't stop supporting it until people stop using it.

At this rate I'm never going back into the industry.
posted by brenton at 12:34 PM on March 4, 2011


(Alternate title to this post: "So long, and thanks for all the phish")
posted by brenton at 12:36 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


As another data point, Browser News has IE 6 stats at around 7-12%.
posted by moonbiter at 1:27 PM on March 4, 2011


Although after posting, I note that the Browser News 12% stat uses the same Net Applications source.
posted by moonbiter at 1:29 PM on March 4, 2011


Gopher? The real cool kids are getting it done with metasploit and netcat.
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:50 PM on March 4, 2011


I know that the last large financial company (~40,000 employees) that I worked for used IE6 because they'd built a bunch of internal apps that were now business-critical that would not work outside of IE6 without being rewritten. The cost of that migration/upgrade looked to be pretty huge and so had been deferred for as long as possible. Isn't that a fairly common situation for businesses to have found themselves in?

I recently taught CSS to a group from one of the major Canadian banks and they too are still on IE 6 with plans to move upward (probably to IE 7 or 8). Just use a modern, standards compliant browser like Firefox or Chrome and run your damn IE6 bound applications with IE6. And never, ever, again, develop web apps that rely on client side technology. Server side technology that renders proper HTML is much better (though of course I'd also recommend not using Microsoft server side tech but that's another debate). I was involved in an internal POS web based system over 10 years ago and even then we knew not to tie to a browser..

We recently decided, as a group that develops web pages, to not support IE6 without an extra charge. This is something we couldn't really do just over a year ago but these days it seems to be well received, save one client who is, of course, a bank...
posted by juiceCake at 2:16 PM on March 4, 2011


eyeballkid: "In defense of memory hogs Firefox and Chrome (and knowing that you weren't being totally serious), I'm finding that 80% of my time on a computer is now working within the browser. So I can justify the RAM usage because it's become my primary application.

Firefox's ability to crash at the slightest provocation on any of my computers, however, is another problem entirely.
"

FF4 is supposed to significantly improve in both of these areas.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:28 PM on March 4, 2011


Well Firefox 4 is eating ~300 mb RAM on my machine right now. But that's for 23 open threads. In 32 bit mode (pdf-quartz plugin isn't 64 bit yet and I need it to work). Word has 6 threads, and is using about the same amount of memory. And a lot more CPU.

Glad to see MS is trying to encourage the euthanasia of IE6. But I'm torn... would prefer they take an agnostic approach and point out all the alternatives for modern browsers now, although really why would they? And someone installing Chrome or Firefox but leaving IE6 on the machine, well, it isn't helping anyone.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:33 PM on March 4, 2011


You have a bad case of IE6

I doubt that, what with using FreeBSD
posted by rough ashlar at 2:48 PM on March 4, 2011


Hopefully we'll be able to euthanize the last windows 2000 holdouts before we finish the Windows 7 rollout.

I'm using win2K, sonny. Come and get me!
*waves buckshot rifle on front lawn, grinning wildly*


Up yours, city slicker! I'm gonna keep it that way until my computer expires into a puff of luddite dust. Then I'll upgrade to a new PC, and run that unit into obsolescence. What can I say? I'm old and I'm cheap. Deal with it! HAH!

Also, I just like the idea that my keeping IE6 on my system pisses off some techie somewhere. So I'm old, cheap, and petty.

(but my main browser is Firefox... I'm old, cheap and petty, but I'm not insane)

posted by spoobnooble at 5:53 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


> * ok, maybe not if you require JS or CANVAS or have one of those dweeby HTML5 badges on your site
> and a message about how you are too cool to write stuff that degrades properly.
> posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on March 4 [+] [!]

The wretched electric windows on my ten year old Dodge are busted on both sides and I notice they did not gracefully degrade to hand-crank windows. At least broken escalators degrade to stairs. (pours out 40 for Mitch)
posted by jfuller at 5:55 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sure, they complain about us paying customers still expecting software to run more than a few months after it is released, like we're Luddites for not wanting to pay of "upgrades" which break things and make them run slower.

We're running Windows 2000 Server, we tried Windows 2003, but it kept disconnecting workstations randomly, I'm not likely to try that upgrade again any time soon.

If they REALLY wanted to get rid of IE6, they would make IE7 available for Win2k.
posted by MikeWarot at 6:41 PM on March 4, 2011


The help desk at work just installed IE6 on my laptop today. On purpose.
posted by desjardins at 7:04 PM on March 4, 2011


"Help desk" seems inappropriate, then, doesn't it?
posted by Night_owl at 9:37 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


My office rolled out IE8 to all users just two weeks ago. We're still on XP as well.
posted by awfurby at 11:38 PM on March 4, 2011


...as long as I've got good data and visualizations (which is different from design).

Data visualization is more about design than rounded corners are about design. But I agree with your general sentiment otherwise.
posted by romanb at 4:44 AM on March 5, 2011


U.S. usage 2.9%.
I always knew my clients were special. Now I have proof.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:20 AM on March 5, 2011


We're stuck on IE6 due to oracle apps. But IT is very happy to let us all use firefox.
posted by wilful at 4:56 PM on March 7, 2011


Internet Explorer 9 to launch on March 14

Firefox 4 RC Vs. IE9 RC: The First Duel
posted by Artw at 10:01 AM on March 8, 2011


This is pretty cool...

Timeline of web browsers
posted by Artw at 11:05 AM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Timeline of web browsers

Wow, I didn't realize Mosaic had so many puppies.
posted by jfuller at 12:47 PM on March 8, 2011


Just popping in to share my pain:

"The USPTO actively tests and supports Internet Explorer 6, Firefox 2, and Safari 2 for use with EFS‐Web. However, each browser version (major and minor releases) may have specific issues that USPTO cannot always address. If you install a later browser version, please be sure to maintain one of the supported browsers in order to ensure access to EFS‐Web."

That's enough to make me turn libertarian.
posted by charred husk at 10:17 AM on March 9, 2011


Safari and IE8 get shamed at Pwn2Own, Chrome still safe... for now
posted by Artw at 10:14 AM on March 10, 2011


IE9 Release Globally Available for Consumers and Businesses
posted by Artw at 10:44 PM on March 14, 2011


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