Microsoft starts IE6 deathwatch

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Ask not for whom the bell tolls - it tolls for IE6. In a rather bizarre effort to persuade users to upgrade to newer versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft has launched a countdown to show just how many people have abandoned the ten-year-old browser already.

The web page, ie6countdown.com, is 'dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than one percent worldwide'. But there's a long way to go, with only Norway and Finland showing usage below that level.

In the US, it's currently 2.9 percent, with 3.3 percent in Canada and 3.5 percent in the UK. China, unsurprisingly, is the toughest nut to crack, with 34.5 percent still using the older version.

The site looks more like a clarity fundraiser than anything, with users encouraged to cheer IE 6's demise. "Friends don’t let friends use Internet Explorer 6. And neither should acquaintances," Microsoft chides.

Indeed, says the company, we're all being selfish in continuing to use IE6; getting the world figure below one percent, it says, would mean that "more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers."

In a blog post, director of Internet Explorer product marketing Roger Capriotti explains why the company's so focused on that one percent figure.

"We realize that there might not a magic number for when web developers and IT pros can drop support for older browsers, but we believe that one 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," he says.

Despite its massive takeup, IE6 hasn't always been popular, thanks to its weak security and patchy compatibility with current web standards. But, all the same, it's probably not the most hated product in the world. Some users might want to suggest alternative candidates for a deathwatch countdown - any ideas, anyone?