Microsoft explains why they can't pull the plug on IE 6

Digg has prevented users on IE 6 from certain activities, Facebook has been telling users to upgrade, and YouTube is supposedly going to cut off IE 6 support altogether. Yet, Microsoft still hasn't pulled the plug on Internet Explorer 6, and they plan on keeping it on extended support for the lifespan of Windows XP. That is until April 8, 2014.

For those who are wondering why Microsoft is still supporting Internet Explorer 6, a post on Internet Explorer Team's Blog explains why:

"The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier. Dropping support for IE6 is not an option because we committed to supporting the IE included with Windows for the lifespan of the product. We keep our commitments," said the post. "Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have. As engineers, we want people to upgrade to the latest version. We make it as easy as possible for them to upgrade. Ultimately, the choice to upgrade belongs to the person responsible for the PC."

Those who are still using Internet Explorer 6 are strongly encouraged to upgrade to the latest version, Internet Explorer 8.

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Sorry, but most of you are demonstrating a severe lack of knowledge of proper software design. You all design by the seat of your pants, with no methodology in place, and you're so ignorant you don't even know what you don't know (I bet most of you don't even know what a methodology is). Don't feel too bad though, about 90% of the people designing software don't have a clue, so you're among a large group of equally ignorant friends.

Rule #1 in Software Design: You don't force the user to change to accomodate your software, you design the software to accomodate what the user does. If users have IE6 (and many do) then you design to accomodate it. Stop whining and moaning, stop worrying about living on the edge of new standards, and just design for what the marketplace is (not what your technologically biased head tells you is "best" or what you want it to be, but what it is).

This lesson is free. For the rest, go get a formal education in software design or read some books.

No Microsoft is just stupid, IE 6 is the worst non-compliant browser in existence.

IE6 is dying, people moving on to Firefox, newer IE 7/8 and other browsers.

[heavy sigh] It's not just because of XP, folks. As all of you already know, Microsoft designed IE7 (and IE 8) to only install on XP and later operating systems. You would be surprised at the number of computers that still run Win98 or Win2K, many of which are in the U.S., not just in developing countries.

And you simply cannot convince "Grandma" that she has to upgrade from something that she doesn't see as being broken. Nobody is going to listen to a faceless voice on the interwebs telling them that they are holding everybody else back.

Microsoft knows this extremely well. They have hard data, such as SQM. It seems they're feeding you PR spin about XP, but for the most part it's true: you might recall that IE5 was supported until EOL for Win2K. But MS also knows they have a huge customer base running legacy operating systems that cannot install IE7.

You bleeding-edge users can complain all you want. Microsoft isn't going to listen: they care about retaining ALL of their customers, not just you.

Reading all of your comments, one thing in particular popped in my mind: people talk about "standards" like they were the Grail and tend to forget that at the time, IE6 was the standard and that's why apps were developed for it. If some kind of standard for UI APIs was to become a trend, would it mean everybody would start baching all the developers who created an app that's bound to GDI in Windows and not considred to be a multi-platform standard?

Now, if all of what I read is true, can somebody here confirm at least that a web site create for Firefox 1.0 still works perfectly find and looks the exact same way in Firefox 3.x ?

I have 2 public internet sites and about 25% of my traffic is still from IE6 clients. IE7 & IE8 combined only make up for about 17%, currently.

While I hate to continue to have to support the non-standards browsers, it is something I see as a necessity for at least another couple of years. Like a previous post stated, there will be a party when IE6 finally drops off the face of the earth. :~)

Companies refusing to upgrade beyond IE6 due to costs are no better than the companies that refused to update to y2k compliance back in the 90s. They whimpered and whined for a decade while putting of off, then suddenly panicked and said the sudden, unexpected expense would completely throw off their budgets.

But in the end, they did it, and they didn't go broke. Same here. You can't blame your budget forever. XP has been around for ages. They should have long term plans in place for setting aside annually fractions of the cost of an upgrade like this so they're prepared for it every 4-7 years, creating less of an impact than doing it all at once.

But it strikes me that the problem with businessthink is their retarded inability to think outside the 365-day block.

From a business perspective Microsoft are right.
But IE8? Come on, it's just a bloated piece of sizzle! They could have fixed all of the issues with IE6, have it fully W3C compliment and have full support for CS3 and have tabs, without all of that bloated crap that comes along with IE8.

GOD BLESS GOOGLE CHROME, I say.

If the browser wasn't "tied" to the OS by Microsoft, would this even be an issue? Perhaps the EU have a point? But seriously, even if a browser is not tied to the OS some people stick to some products. Look at vintage car owners. Not everyone wants to be at the forefront, and wait for things to "mature" before buying in, while some don't update anything till the old one stops working. IE6 will fade, eventually.

I agree with this statement wholeheartedly. I know MS has to continue supporting it, that's fine. Just more sites need to forget about supporting it. Once people don't see the site correctly they will either upgrade or suffer.
Some may consider it bad business, but most sites try to cater to the common denominator that is usually computers only a few years old.

Shiranui said,
Once popular sites start refusing to work with ie6, people will be forced to upgrade.

Unfortunately,
That may cause those people to gravitate away from Windows/IE altogether, just for spite, and you know MS doesn't want anything to do with that!

Come on companies, update to IE8! I think it's worth it the time or money to upgrade to IE8, rather than standing on something pretty outdated.

Forgive me, but this makes me really angry. The people who are complaining about the continued use of IE6 are the same ones that prolonged its life by rubbishing the excellent OS that would otherwise have ensured its demise. That's right, techie people, if you hadn't trashed Vista to everyone you met, we would all be on IE7 by now.

There are not many things in this life to which I can truly apply the word "hate", but Internet Explorer 6 is one of them, and I cannot wait to see it die. As a responsible Web developer who puts the needs of ordinary surfers above his own lofty ideals, I will continue to waste hours of my time tweaking for it until it drops below about 5% market share. On that day I believe a large party will be in order.

However, if they would have dropped support for XP like planned they could have dropped IE6 too. So once more blame is on Vista! Ha, Ha!

That's a perfectly valid and responsible reason for not letting IE6 die. There's more clueless users out there than us tech savvy people - therefore they need to support the majority.

Their are a number of ways you can look at this, job security is one of them. But on the other side, stop supporting IE 6. If all web developers put their feet down you would change things. If your site offered such a value add that no one can live with out it, take google.com for instance, and you made it only work with Firefox, people would have to change. But then again this goes against all notions of choice. If you are afraid of alienating users and dropping your web stats for your site, then quit complaining. If supporting IE 6 brings home the bacon then it's kinda obvious.

Imagine if Google.com only supported Chrome...

People may hate this, but this story shows one interesting aspect
Microsoft supports X = MS will support it for more than a decade even if it's hard.
Linux supports X = some guy on the internets hacked it for some weeks and managed to run X (still buggy though).

P.S. yeah, Linux is not company, I know.

the real problem is not that people are ignorant.. real problem is, people doesnt know that they are using IE6.. and most importantly.. they are not bothered about upgrading browser.. thier daily work is done.. so thats it.. no need to upgrade.. thats the mentality ppl using.. thats making IE6 still alive.

Why people can live with IE 6, a browser without tabbed browing feature? Please, at least upgrade to IE 7, upgrade to IE 8 would be great.

case and point. I have a manager at one of my dealerships who was using IE6 on his XP machine. Recently, our WSUS server pushed thru IE7 to it. He flipped out because whenever he double clicked a link it would "log him out of the window he had open before". It was opening a new tab and he didn't understand that his windows are consolidated onto one... with multiple tabs. It took me 30 minutes to explain that's how it works now.

I work in IT for a relatively large Automotive group. We've got computers in some dealerships still running 2000. Every other computer runs IE7 because IE8 breaks functionality of 3/4 of the websites we use (i.e. Volkswagen/Audi Finance Extranet). What about those computers that we still need to have running 2000? It's not like we can just upgrade all of that older hardware to XP or Vista. I'm still happy that there's some kind of support for IE6.

I have an Internship at a BIG electronics company and the IT department still uses XP with IE6, and they aren't planing to deploy neither Vista nor Seven anytime soon. Basically, I think Microsoft can do nothing but try to push Seven to companies and hope that they'll be updating their custom applications (which will take a fairly long time to be done).

E.Fahd said,
I have an Internship at a BIG electronics company and the IT department still uses XP with IE6, and they aren't planing to deploy neither Vista nor Seven anytime soon. Basically, I think Microsoft can do nothing but try to push Seven to companies and hope that they'll be updating their custom applications (which will take a fairly long time to be done).

Companies dug that hole, and Microsoft handed them the shovel. They both deserve this outcome.

Well, I don't think it's the best moment to dicuss who's to blame. I think the only way IE6 could die is if COMPANIES stopped using it (not websites supporting it), and that's quite a big problem because most companies have no incentive to rebuild their IE6-tied applications for the sake of standards.

Another way to see this is : The hell with companies ! they're using IE6 only for intranet anyway so they're not even a problem in the first place. In this case Microsoft should just push IE8 using WU and that's it.

soldier1st said,
ie6 is a security nightmare and should be torn apart piece by piece. sides ie6 dont have tabs.

Wow, somebody who actually gets it. Clearly a web developer, rather than the ie lovers you see here, who are just browsers. ie6 is why I will never trust Microsoft to make a browser ever again, and encourage everyone I know to use something that supports web standards.

But that means, if MS makes a future version of IE fully standards compliant, it would be one of the browsers you'd be encouraging everyone you know to use, while simultaneously not trusting it because you've committed for the rest of your life to never using another version of Internet Explorer.

You're going to implode if you keep that up.

How about making a portable version of IE6? Or a version that runs in a virtual machine? Or adding an IE6 emulation mode into IE8 that can be activated for certain sites? That way users can run new browsers and not lose compatibility.

They did it for "XP mode" in Windows 7, obviously it can be done with a simple web browser!

+1 for the portable version of IE6. Don't see how that wouldn't allow companies to upgrade w/o worrying about web-based application compatibility if they had a portable version of IE6 you could slap onto any machine.

I work for the government and we are still using IE6 due to compatibility with our many different applications.
We run the latest hardware, but when it comes to software there isnt much change, due to breaking something.
We are still able to get new computers with XP installed (lol) No Vista machines allowed.

I am currently looking for a job and I went to my state's job agency. They have numerous branches all around the state. The most I have been is three different locations.

Get this: They are still running IE 6. On all the machines. It makes looking for work on their machines really painful. Its slow and sometimes it will crash on me.

I would like to contact the IT guy that handles these networks. I wonder what he will say.


jc0481 said,
I am currently looking for a job and I went to my state's job agency. They have numerous branches all around the state. The most I have been is three different locations.

Get this: They are still running IE 6. On all the machines. It makes looking for work on their machines really painful. Its slow and sometimes it will crash on me.

I would like to contact the IT guy that handles these networks. I wonder what he will say.


He'll more than likely tell you that the majority of the software is custom built and only works reliably with IE6 and that it'd cost way too much to upgrade all the custom software.

The majority of businesses won't switch to something new until there's no other choice.

My company still runs on XP SP2, IE7 is very slowly going out, as some critical inhouse software only runs on IE6, whilst some other doesn't run on IE8. Vista never stood a chance. Win 7 will not happen in the next 2 years.

What people don't realize is that home users and businesses are two different worlds. Whilst you can run the automatic updates just fine at home and get the latest and greatest, do that in a company and you can bring the entire business down in less time than you can say supercalifragilisblablabla....

Sounds like an excuse to avoid the bashing. Microsoft should force IE8 via Windows Update in 2010 and that's it, no more b***sh*t.

Yup, so you're going to fork out the hundreds of thousands of $$ it will take to re-write specific software for other browsers? That is all fine for home users, for companies it's not so simple.

So basically if Windows XP its still around so its ie6, besides windows 2000 users dont have ie7 and ie8 and a lot of computer its still running on those OS.

The message its clear, if everyone wants ie6 to be kill, XP must die too.

eilegz said,
The message its clear, if everyone wants ie6 to be kill, XP must die too.

Why does XP have to die when it can run other browsers?

toadeater said,
Why does XP have to die when it can run other browsers?

Because supporting XP INCLUDES supporting IE6 which was preinstalled. If Firefox 1.0 was preinstalled MS would have had to support is as well.

RealFduch said,
Because supporting XP INCLUDES supporting IE6 which was preinstalled. If Firefox 1.0 was preinstalled MS would have had to support is as well.

It's not very difficult to redirect XP IE6 users to download IE8 *using IE6*. It's not like taking out the browser. MS can still offer technical support, but it doesn't have to maintain compatibility with it.

My company just went to a web-based time entry system that states it only supports IE6. IDKWTF is up with that. Seems like that would be a deal breaker in the middle of 2009 when there is 2 more versions of IE. It seems to work fine in IE8 on my end, but definitely no good in Firefox or Chrome.

Shadrack said,
My company just went to a web-based time entry system that states it only supports IE6. IDKWTF is up with that. Seems like that would be a deal breaker in the middle of 2009 when there is 2 more versions of IE. It seems to work fine in IE8 on my end, but definitely no good in Firefox or Chrome.

Not Smart T&A by chance?

That also means your company will most likely be stuck on XP for quite some time unless they get Windows 7 and run XP mode on all machines that use it xD

Shadrack said,
web-based time entry system that states it only supports IE6.

Why in 2009 a company has not updated there product to support newer browser is beyond me.

As a web developer IE6 has so many bug it is crap.

Microsoft says they are to support to 2014 that will be 13 years since release.

When you computer is out of date in 6 months how is an OS 13 years old going to any good.

The sooner IE6 dies the better. MS please force IE8 Upgrade on Windows Update

torrentthief said,
how is this news? you didn't think microsoft was going to stop functionality on microsoft.com for IE6 users did u?

pointless article.


Considering how people have been asking questions, as well as developers pulling the plug on support... it's nice to have things clarified.

mindscape said,
Arggh.... More pain for CSS developers...

Say "thanks" to the 8-years-old-software lovers that are keeping IE6 alive.

I don't know what the fuss is all about with ie6 css. Many of stuff in css3 like shadow were available since ie5.5. Now FF and Webkit adopt those standards and make it sounds like it's new. With that said, update to new browsers people, stop holding the web hostage like a 2nd player in Contra!

LAMj said,
I don't know what the fuss is all about with ie6 css. Many of stuff in css3 like shadow were available since ie5.5. Now FF and Webkit adopt those standards and make it sounds like it's new. With that said, update to new browsers people, stop holding the web hostage like a 2nd player in Contra!

The problem isn't things that IE doesn't support so much as the stuff it gets completely wrong. When you say "make these list items 100 pixels wide, 30 pixels tall, and floating along the right side of the page" and IE says "I'm just going stop displaying the first, make the remainder 150 pixels wide and 4 pixels tall, and
stack them one above the other in the middle of the page".

RealFduch said,
Say "thanks" to the 8-years-old-software lovers that are keeping IE6 alive.

Well, it isn't that so much anymore, as they are providing support for IE6 along with the OS it shipped with. Though I still don't understand why people are still using IE6... Doesn't make sense. I guess these people never update Windows either?

evn. said,
The problem isn't things that IE doesn't support so much as the stuff it gets completely wrong. When you say "make these list items 100 pixels wide, 30 pixels tall, and floating along the right side of the page" and IE says "I'm just going stop displaying the first, make the remainder 150 pixels wide and 4 pixels tall, and
stack them one above the other in the middle of the page".

ROFL.

M_Lyons10 said,

ROFL.

Yep, he's dead right though.

If Microsoft ever wants to get some leverage with us developers, at minimum they need to patch their bugs in IE6.

Tikitiki said,
If Microsoft ever wants to get some leverage with us developers, at minimum they need to patch their bugs in IE6.

Bad idea. If microsoft start patching IE's rendering issues developers will no longer have just 1 version of IE to cater for. Instead we'll get idiots with half-patched versions, idiots with completely patched versions and people who shouldn't be on the internet with fully unpatched versions - all rendering pages differently. At least the way it stands atm we only have to work with one crappy version of IE6.

The only way to get ppl off IE is to refuse to let sites load in it. Update messages at the top of webpages do nothing. If sites like google and youtube failed to load in IE, even large corporations with their broken software will end up updating.

evn. said,
The problem isn't things that IE doesn't support so much as the stuff it gets completely wrong. When you say "make these list items 100 pixels wide, 30 pixels tall, and floating along the right side of the page" and IE says "I'm just going stop displaying the first, make the remainder 150 pixels wide and 4 pixels tall, and
stack them one above the other in the middle of the page".

Spot on, +100000000