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Microsoft: Why We Can't Drop IE6 Support

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 66 comments
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Microsoft took to its Internet Explorer blog late last night to explain why the company would not be dropping support for IE6 anytime soon.

The fact that many sites are still supporting an eight year old browser has long been a topic of conversation on the web and Microsoft has now thrown its own 2 cents in, explaining the why dropping support for IE6 is not an option.

The post by Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch, the General Manager of the Internet Explorer team, references a recent survey done by Digg.com regarding users who were still using IE6. The survey showed that 69 percent of Digg users still using Internet Explorer 6 were doing so because either they don’t have administrator access on my computer or someone at work says they can't and it looks like Microsoft is standing behind those who cannot upgrade because their employer says they can't.

Dean begins by stating that as a browser supplier, of course the company wants users to run the latest version of IE for security, performance, interoperability, and more. However, Dean goes on to say that a huge number of computers do not belong to individual users, but to organizations and highlights the cost of maintaining and updating so many machines, concluding that the choice to upgrade belongs to the person responsible for the PC.

The post clarifies that it has to support IE6 because the company committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product; hence dropping support is "not an option." However, several major websites would be inclined to disagree. Do you think major websites should stop support for IE6? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    tomatallegro , August 11, 2009 4:28 PM
    Yep, it is time to leave IE 6 behind. There really is no need for it anymore, other than lazy (or overworked) admins at large corporations who won't (or can't) upgrade their fleet of XP users. I think major web sites should force the issue by phasing out IE6 support at the end of 2009. I mean let's get into the 21st century already.
  • 17 Hide
    rbriz , August 11, 2009 4:32 PM
    If you are a web developer trying to use CSS Layouts and web standards. Having to support IE6 is enough to drive you nuts. Learn2Upgrade.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 4:34 PM
    I am still using IE 5 with Windows Me and I love it!
Other Comments
    Display all 66 comments.
  • 3 Hide
    jerther , August 11, 2009 4:17 PM
    Quote:
    Do you think major websites should stop support for IE6?
    Yeah, that's what we call progress. 8 years, it's kind of time.

    Some sites already begun to leave IE6 support by the way :) 
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 4:27 PM
    All I get from this article is that MS won't force companies to upgrade IE6, but they will force them to upgrade OS. I'm sure that if they were charging for IE, support for version 6 would have been dropped long ago.
  • 20 Hide
    tomatallegro , August 11, 2009 4:28 PM
    Yep, it is time to leave IE 6 behind. There really is no need for it anymore, other than lazy (or overworked) admins at large corporations who won't (or can't) upgrade their fleet of XP users. I think major web sites should force the issue by phasing out IE6 support at the end of 2009. I mean let's get into the 21st century already.
  • 3 Hide
    scook9 , August 11, 2009 4:32 PM
    All the machines where I work have IE6 and XP....SO we all use Firefox since it is also installed.
  • 17 Hide
    rbriz , August 11, 2009 4:32 PM
    If you are a web developer trying to use CSS Layouts and web standards. Having to support IE6 is enough to drive you nuts. Learn2Upgrade.
  • 12 Hide
    Anonymous , August 11, 2009 4:34 PM
    I am still using IE 5 with Windows Me and I love it!
  • 2 Hide
    duckmanx88 , August 11, 2009 4:38 PM
    I had applied for a job at SEIU and they made me take this test on their computers. they were still using IE6 and Windows 98. its ridiculous. I hate when people cling for dear life to old technology and software. very inefficient especially when all their computers had limewire on it.
  • 0 Hide
    jerther , August 11, 2009 4:38 PM
    windowsmeloverI am still using IE 5 with Windows Me and I love it!

    HUH!? you must be out of your mind!!! :p 

    em3e3All I get from this article is that MS won't force companies to upgrade IE6, but they will force them to upgrade OS. I'm sure that if they were charging for IE, support for version 6 would have been dropped long ago.

    You're wrong. They keep support for IE6 up because some of their still supported OS come with it. We're talking about WinXP
  • 1 Hide
    silversquare , August 11, 2009 4:41 PM
    As a web developer I whole heartedly think we should stop trying to fanagle our sites to work with IE6. But the fact is there are still plenty of users on IE6 that we cannot ignore it and our clients wouldn't appreciate it much if we did. In the interim though we don't try to make IE6 support every feature we have for modern browsers as long as the general experience is present. It will be nice someday when we don't have to worry about graceful degradation for any version of IE though wouldn't it?
  • 3 Hide
    fuser , August 11, 2009 4:43 PM
    Large public websites cannot afford to drop IE6 support. You can force your website visitors to upgrade or go away, but there's always the risk that users will pick the latter option.
  • 7 Hide
    hellwig , August 11, 2009 4:49 PM
    Quote:
    However, Dean goes on ... and highlights the cost of maintaining and updating so many machines, concluding that the choice to upgrade belongs to the person responsible for the PC.

    What cost? If we believe Microsoft, maintaining and upgrading Windows is virtually free, while maintaining and upgrading Linux is so expensive not even Microsoft could afford to do it.

    Quote:
    Do you think major websites should stop support for IE6? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!

    No website should support IE6, or any specific browser for that matter. Internet standards exist for a reason. If millions of people complain tomorrow because they can't read Google.com, Facebook.com, etc.. because IE6 doesn't properly support CSS, that should be seen only as a blackeye to Microsoft.

    Even worse are websites that require IE (or Firefox for that matter). I'm tired of websites telling me my browser may not work correctly. Opera supports standards as good or better than any other browser.
  • 1 Hide
    Nik_I , August 11, 2009 4:51 PM
    for the longest time my school's computers only had IE6 on them. People always did like to download and install firefox on them, but those computers would delete all stored data after they were restarted, and the dude in charge of the computers used to freak out if he caught you installing anything. (My friend got banned from the computer labs for downloading google chrome). It's for reasons like this that so many people still use IE6. Most, if not all public computers still run windows xp, often still with service pack 1 or even before that.
  • 0 Hide
    paranoidmage , August 11, 2009 4:51 PM
    If you take away support it will force people to change. Since it can with XP, It seems it would be a bad idea to drop support for something that comes with your OS. Imagine getting a brand new netbook, only to find the software with it is outdated.
  • 2 Hide
    snotling , August 11, 2009 4:55 PM
    tomatallegroYep, it is time to leave IE 6 behind. There really is no need for it anymore, other than lazy (or overworked) admins at large corporations who won't (or can't) upgrade their fleet of XP users. I think major web sites should force the issue by phasing out IE6 support at the end of 2009. I mean let's get into the 21st century already.

    technicaly, IE6 is fron the 21st centuray as well...
  • 1 Hide
    snotling , August 11, 2009 4:58 PM
    duckmanx88I had applied for a job at SEIU and they made me take this test on their computers. they were still using IE6 and Windows 98. its ridiculous. I hate when people cling for dear life to old technology and software. very inefficient especially when all their computers had limewire on it.

    yeah it's like keeping that old vacuum cleener that sucks so bad that it doesn't suck anymore! but it still makes noise so it's still in working condition right?
  • 0 Hide
    hixbot , August 11, 2009 5:04 PM
    Websites can choose to stop supporting IE6 and I'm ok with that. Ofcourse Microsoft should continue to support IE6, millions of people are still using it. They can drop IE6 support when they drop XP support.
  • 0 Hide
    jhgoodwin , August 11, 2009 5:08 PM
    I think most of the posts have it bass-ackwards. The people who make the sites have to support their users. Making them upgrade arbitrarily is stupid. It just makes you look like your sites is broken or has requirements that others do not. Ideally, sites should go ahead and make their sites work on most browsers that their users visit them with, and if the older ones, just work, but have some legacy issues that only affect "clean lines", I think that's fine. (Example, lack of alpha blended transparent png). Considering the complexity of making a standards browser that is competitive, free, fast, able to render broken pages without crashing, and is also professional looking is an incredible challenge. To be honest, I'm surprised the web still works considering all the mitigating factors.
  • -7 Hide
    IzzyCraft , August 11, 2009 5:34 PM
    ie6 after patching etc is a good browser no reason to drop it when a ton of company still use it :) 
  • 0 Hide
    bourgeoisdude , August 11, 2009 5:35 PM
    fuserLarge public websites cannot afford to drop IE6 support. You can force your website visitors to upgrade or go away, but there's always the risk that users will pick the latter option.


    'Nuff said. (+1)
  • 1 Hide
    NocturnalOne , August 11, 2009 5:46 PM
    It's up to each web site to make that call. How can 'we' possibly say anything meaningful about it? They look at their webstats and can tell which browsers are visiting their site. They know if their site depends on that slice of the traffic or not. If you run a site that depends on visitor counts do you really want to cut off 25% of your visitors? 10%? Who's to say? For my sites I don't give a hoot but that's because I pay the bills and have no advertising. Quite a different story for e-commerce sites I imagine :) 

    MS should be applauded for standing by its customers.
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