March 8th, 2010

Great news for all web developers out there it looks like Internet Explorer 6 usage is finally on the wane.  On one of our main sites the % of UK visitors using IE6 has been stubbornly stuck at just over 16% for most of the last year and was consistently our third most popular browser version (behind IE7 and IE8).  Recently these numbers have started slipping and it looks like it’s dropping below 10% at last (and below Firefox 3.5 usage).

As any developer whose had to cut some HTML/CSS in the last few years knows IE6 is a massive headache.  You can argue about relative merits of IE6 at the time when it was released but the fact is now is that its age causes numerous problems: its ignorance of standards; how it behaves very differently to any other browser in common usage; being a constant source of security vulnerabilities.  When developing the design of a site you end up spending a dis-proportionality large amount of time fixing IE6 glitches.  It would be nice to just drop IE6 support (as some high profile sites are now doing) but if you’re involved in e-commerce it probably doesn’t make sense to disenfranchise 1 in 8 of your potential customers and that’s why it’s such good news that usage seems to be slipping.

I’m not sure what the causes of the recent decline is but I’m guessing the significant adverse publicity over the successful hacking of Gmail accounts of users on Internet Explorer 6 browsers may have something to do with it.  I’d like to  say that the European Union’s latest initiative to try and get Microsoft to play fair is beginning to pay dividends. As part of their continuing battle over anti competitive practices Microsoft agreed to give users a choice of installing a different browser after their last Microsoft update.  The update was only rolled out earlier this week so is unlikely to be making a big impact on the figures yet but may cause numbers to drop even further.  I certainly hope so anyway.

Internet Explorer 6 drops below 10% and Firefox 3.5
Week ending IE 6 (% UK visitors) Firefox 3.5 (% UK visitors)
7th February 2010 11.5 14.0
14th February 2010 12.2 12.8
21st February 2010 9.2 13.9
28th February 2010 11.8 12.6
7th March 2010 8.9 12.4

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