Except perhaps for Windows XP, there's no Microsoft product that Microsoft would more like to see permanently retired than Internet Explorer 6. Now, the company is celebrating the fact that IE6 usage in the U.S. is below 1 percent.
In a blog posting Tuesday on its Windows Internet Explorer blog, Internet Explorer Marketing Director Roger Capriotti wrote that it's "time to pop open the champagne" because market research firm Net Applications finds IE6 at its lowest level yet. Capriotti noted that IE6 "has been the punchline of browser jokes for a while, and we've been as eager as anyone to see it go away."
Microsoft has been trying for some time to move users to more modern browsers, instead of the 10-year-old version 6. The company set up a Web site in March devoted to tracking that browser's demise, called The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown.
While usage in this country is below 1 percent, the site notes that worldwide use is still 7.7 percent, as of last month. In addition to the U.S., the countries that have achieved less than 1 percent usage include the Czech Republic, Portugal, Philippines, Ukraine, Mexico, Austria and Poland. A year ago, IE6 usage was about six percentage points higher than currently.
Web developers also may be popping the champagne, since IE 6 is notorious among those who build Web sites as the quirkiest of browsers to make a site look good in, and still look good in other versions or browsers. In its IE6 Countdown site, Microsoft also points out that newer versions of IE have improved speed, tabbed browsing and better privacy settings.
The IE6 Countdown site has had over 2.75 million visitors and 5.6 million page views since its launch, according to Microsoft.
The company is eager for IT departments to join in waving goodbye to 6, at least in part because of the version's issues. Capriotti said his company hoped "more developers and IT pros can consider IE6 a 'low priority' at this point and stop spending their time having to support such an outdated browser."
For IT departments, Microsoft offers transition paths for those departments who feel they need to maintain compatibility, as well as code for Web pages that, when viewed through IE 6, offers a message that "you are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer." The message encourages the user to update to a more modern version, such as IE 8 or 9.
Perhaps downgrading your own browser is becoming a trend. Google has recently downgraded its Chrome browser in its search results, because a marketing company had paid bloggers to promote the browser, violating Google's own guidelines. The technology giant said that marketing firm Essence Digital conducted the campaign by itself.
SEO expert Aaron Wall recently found more than 400 entries attached to the credit of "this post is sponsored by Google," which contained links referring to Chrome. Such use of paid links violates Google's guidelines, as the search engine uses links as one factor in determining search results.