If you're part of the 12 percent of Internet users worldwide that is still using Internet Explorer 6 to surf the Web, it's time to upgrade. Even Microsoft, IE's creator, is trying to kill the browser, which was released almost a decade ago, on August 27, 2001, and has been upgraded more than once in the years since. (Internet Explorer 9 is still in development and is scheduled to be released in late March at the Microsoft Tech-Ed Event in Bangalore, India.)
A new website launched by the software giant, The Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, tracks what percentage of Internet users in various countries around the globe are still using the outdated browser (China: 34.5 percent; Norway: 0.7 percent; the United States: 2.9 percent). The site also encourages visitors to educate others -- "Friends don't let friends use Internet Explorer 6" -- and attempts to convince developers to copy/paste a chunk of code that urges their audience to upgrade with an aggressive orange, red and yellow banner. "You are using an outdated browser," the banner reads. "For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today."
But that's not always possible.
"The problem is that some users have no choice but to stick with IE6," Scott Gilbertson wrote on Wired's Webmonkey. "There are still some sites on the web that require IE6 and even more in private intranets. Telling users who need IE6 to access these sites to upgrade isn't going to solve the problem. The problem is with the websites, not the users. The IE6countadown site has a section devoted to IT staff and corporate users looking to upgrade, but there's little the company can do for those with sites built only for IE6."
For those who can upgrade, though, there are plenty of reasons to move away from Internet Explorer 6 -- if not to Internet Explorer 8, then to another Web browser altogether. (Personally, I use a combination of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome on my computers -- all for visiting different websites.) Among the benefits of upgrading, as listed on the Internet Explorer 6 Countdown site: Improved speed, better privacy settings and tabbed browsing. (I don't even remember what life was like before the tabbed browser.)
"The web has changed significantly over the past 10 years," according to the IE6 Countdown. "The browser has evolved to adapt to new web technologies, and the latest versions of Internet Explorer help protect you from new attacks and threats." It's admirable that Microsoft is getting behind the push to move Internet users into safer territory, but it doesn't make sense that they're urging customers to upgrade to Internet Explorer 8 when the new iteration will be out in just a few weeks.