Microsoft Starts Countdown For IE6

With Internet Explorer 9 nearing launch and developers clamoring for HTML 5, the software maker is hoping the countdown will quicken the browser’s extinction.

Slideshow: Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 Beta Revealed

Microsoft has launched a countdown site to track what the software maker hopes is a sooner-than-later death for the 10-year-old Internet Explorer 6.

With IE 9 near completion, Microsoft said Friday its time for IE 6 fans to say bye bye to the trusted friend that clings to life despite being superseded by three generations of the Web browser. “C’mon IE6, it’s time for a modern Web, so nice knowing you and all that but … buhbye,” Steve Clayton, director of cloud strategy for Microsoft, said in the company’s blog.

Microsoft’s IE 6 Countdown site says 12% of worldwide Web users were surfing with the old brows as of the end of February. Asia is where the browser is used the most. China leads with more than 34% of Internet users still on IE 6.

Microsoft plans to continue with the countdown until IE 6 usage follows below 1%. A year ago, 21% of Web users were on the outdated browser.

Web site developers face the biggest problems in having IE 6 on life support. With so many people still using the browser, they have to continue to support it with older technology, while also programming with new technology for the younger browsers. Microsoft said IE 6 is one of the biggest hurdles developers face while trying to move the rest of the Web to HTML 5, the latest of the core markup language for Web sites. Among the best features of the new technology is the ability to play video on a page without the need for proprietary plug-ins.

Microsoft is also hot to get IE 6 users to upgrade to IE 9. The release candidate of the new browser shipped in February, marking the final milestone before it is officially released this year.

Microsoft is hoping IE 9 will reverse Internet Explorer’s slipping market share. In February 2009, IE’s various versions accounted for a collective 70% of the market. Today, they represent about 56%. The browser’s main rival for years has been Mozilla Firefox. More recently, Google Chrome has been gobbling up share.

Maintaining a dominant position is important to Microsoft because it means greater influence with developers.

Now in its fifth year, Web 2.0 Expo is for the builders of the next-generation Web: designers, developers, entrepreneurs, marketers, and business strategists. It happens March 28-31 in San Francisco. Register now.

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