Microsoft has begun a campaign to kill off Internet Explorer 6 Web browser and convince users of that aging browser to upgrade to something a little more recent.
Microsoft has created a "countdown" Website, ie6countdown.com, tracking IE6 usage country-by-country as the company pushes to shrink the browser's market share below 1 percent. The effort to kill off IE6 was announced by Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer product marketing in a blog post late last week.
"Now that it's 2011, IE6 is officially a 10-year-old browser," Capriotti said in the posting. Net Applications, an Internet statistics tracker, says IE6 still holds more than an 11 percent share of all browser usage worldwide. "Our goal is to get this share under 1 percent worldwide, Capriotti wrote.
"Why 1 percent? We realize that there might not be a magic number for when Web developers and IT pros can drop support for older browsers, but we believe that 1 percent will allow more sites and IT pros worldwide to make IE6 a low-priority browser – meaning you don't have to invest as much time in updates or fixes," Capriotti said in the blog.
All editions of Internet Explorer account for 56.8 percent of browser usage worldwide, according to recent statistics from Net Applications. Within that 56.8 percent, IE8 accounts for 35.0 percent, IE7 8.0 percent and IE6 11.3 percent.
Less than 1 percent is Internet Explorer 9, the next generation of the Microsoft browser that is currently in "release candidate" mode – the last phase of development at Microsoft before a product is released to manufacturing and made commercially available. IE9 is scheduled to be generally available later this year.
Internet Explorer has been steadily losing market share to competing browsers, although Microsoft has attributed the decline to decreased usage of older versions of the software.
Firefox 3.6 holds a 17.8 percent share of the worldwide Web browser market, according to Net Applications, while Google's Chrome 9.0 has a 7.6 percent share and Safari 5.0 has a 3.9 percent share.
The ie6countdown.com site will track IE6 usage by country and Microsoft will "celebrate as countries dip under the 1 percent market," Capriotti's blog promised. "IE6 was a great browser for its time, but we all need the Web to move forward."
IE6 is down to 2.9 percent in the U.S., for example, and 3.3 percent in Canada. It has already dipped below 1 percent in some countries, including Norway and Finland. But IE6 usage remains high in some countries such as China (34.5 percent) and South Korea (24.8 percent)
Because many copies of IE6 are installed on workplace PCs, ie6countdown.com also offers resources for IT managers to help them migrate off the older browser to newer releases.