The Slow Death of Internet Explorer 6

By Thursday November 19th, 2009

There's an emerging trend lately among web designers, coders and even some social media elite. It's an organized effort to "Kill IE 6", and it speaks to a larger issue of staying current with technology.

There’s an emerging trend lately among web designers, coders and even some social media elite. It’s an organized effort to “Kill IE 6”, as in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, as in the version of Internet Explorer that is two versions old.

Once an overwhelming standard, the browser is widely used in large-scale corporate operations and is the default browser for anyone on a PC who hasn’t purchased a new computer in the last few years. These days it faces competition from Mozilla’s FireFox, Apple’s Safari (available for both Mac and PC) and more recently, Google’s Chrome. In addition to competition from other companies’ web browsers, IE 6 also competes with IE 7 and IE 8, the two newer versions of Microsoft’s browser.

So what’s the problem with IE 6?
The capabilities and standard practices for websites and website coding improve rapidly. IE 6 is so far from following current web standards that website designers who develop cutting edge websites almost inevitably need to “dumb down” their sites to make sure that someone with IE 6 still has an acceptable experience. This means that those viewing the site in more capable browsers also experience the “dumbed down” version.

So the real question is, “Why does everyone still use IE 6?” The answer, it seems, is nothing other than a general ignorance to the situation. That makes sense, but now tech-savvy professionals are setting out to educate the masses.

The first serious step to eliminate the outdated technology was taken by a group of reputable interactive agencies who created a banner that pops up when a webpage is viewed using IE 6. They also created an accompanying website with some information, called IE 6 No More. The movement was further encouraged by a Twitter “Twibbon”, which is a small “IE 6 MUST DIE” icon in the corner of a user’s Twitter image. Almost instantly, there were around 200,000 people sporting the “IE 6 MUST DIE” icon.

As an agency owner, I would never alienate users by displaying a banner that essentially tells them they’re behind on technology… but I would love to. The six initial companies that created the banner (there are now over 70 companies on board) are certainly big enough to take the risk. Even Facebook gives users a friendly reminder when the site is viewed with IE 6.

In response to this movement, Microsoft showed a hint of agreement with the increasingly popular sentiment. They offered to feed America’s hungry by donating 16 free meals on behalf of anyone who takes advantage of the free update from IE 6 to IE 8.

As a result of the mass effort to educate users about IE 6 and its shortcomings, FireFox has officially passed Internet Explorer as the most used browser.

I won’t dwell on IE 6, though. I just use it to illustrate a larger point. Keep your technology up to date. Outdated technology, simply put, holds you back. In the case of IE 6, it actually holds the entire World Wide Web back. Technology is changing because it’s constantly improving. It may seem annoying to upgrade hardware or software, learn new or updated interfaces, slow down because you’re a little unfamiliar with a new add-on… but it’s worth it! Believe it or not, technological advances truly benefit everyone, making the tools we all use everyday faster, easier to use, more efficient and more compatible.

As a web developer, I want to take advantage of new technology and make it available to our clients and their customers. As a business owner, I want to take advantage of new technology to make my organization faster, more efficient and more profitable. Let’s embrace change together.

Mozilla FireFox

Apple’s Safari

Google Chrome

IE 6 – Why It’s So Bad

IE 6 No More

The Twitter Twibbon

Microsoft Feeds the Hungry

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About the Author

Drew Thomas is the CTO and co-founder of Brolik. He oversees Brolik's technology projects, including Leverage, Brolik’s proprietary technology platform. Drew spends most of his free time on side projects and prefers to blend work and life into a balanced, enjoyable experience. He lives in Austin, TX.
Twitter: @drewbrolik
LinkedIn: Drew Thomas
Google+: Drew Thomas