Microsoft: We can’t just give up on Internet Explorer 6
Microsoft has hit back at suggestions that it should withdraw support for Internet Explorer 6 to encourage people to upgrade to more modern versions of the browser.
Several high-profile sites have suggested that they will stop supporting Internet 6, despite the fact it’s still the single biggest browser used worldwide according to Net Applications. IE6 boasted a 27.2% market share in July, leaving it marginally ahead of IE7 on 23% and Firefox 3 on 16.2%.
YouTube and Digg are among the sites who have dropped or are considering dropping support for the eight-year-old browser. The sites are growing increasingly frustrated with having to re-code their sites to support IE6.
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
However, Microsoft says it can’t force businesses or consumers to upgrade. “The choice to upgrade software on a PC belongs to the person responsible for the PC,” writes Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch on the IE blog.
“Many PCs don’t belong to individual enthusiasts, but to organisations. The people in these organisations responsible for these machines decide what to do with them. These people are professionally responsible for keeping tens or hundreds or thousands of PCs working on budget. For these folks, the cost of the software isn’t just the purchase price, but the cost of deploying, maintaining, and making sure it works with their IT infrastructure.
“They balance their personal enthusiasm for upgrading PCs with their accountability to many other priorities their organisations have. As much as they (or site developers, or Microsoft or anyone else) want them to move to IE8 now, they see the PC software image as one part of a larger IT picture with its own cadence.”
The company claims it would be irresponsible to drop support for the browser. “The engineering point of view on IE6 starts as an operating systems supplier,” Hachamovitch claims. “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. Many people expect what they originally got with their operating system to keep working whatever release cadence particular subsystems have.”