Friday, 4 March 2011

ie6: The Numbers Game

Microsoft has officially announced that it is going to kill off ie6. This is made out to be a big thing, but it is really too little too late.

Firstly MS has got it's numbers wrong. Their official countdown claims that 12.0% of the world was using Internet Explorer 6 (in Feb 2011). Their stats are from Net Applications, and not linked directly from the MS created site.

In fact the real ie6 usage is more like 4% with the w3Counter, w3Schools and statcounter all giving figures around this level. It may of course be that these counters have not used data including non-english websites (China and India both have high ie6 usage according to MS). In the case of w3Schools only visits to their website was counted; however, in the case of statcounter hits from over 3 million websites were collated, with 395 million hits from China alone.

A possible reason for this discrepancy could be that MS has only counted ie users (who make up around 40 to 45% of all internet users). In this case 4% of total users would be about 10% of ie users, meaning the 12% figure may have a basis in fact. Without more data and an understanding of how Net Applications' data were collected I simply cannot tell, but I hope that MS did not just ignore 55% of the World's internet users.

So, MS wants to cut ie6 usage from 12% to 1%. If the figure is in fact 4% over half their work is already done.

There are further problems with this exercise. The website suggests ie8 as a suitable alternative. It is not, especially with the introduction of CSS and HTML5 into webpages now and in the near future.

Microsoft needs to wake up to the fact that there are other, better browsers out there (without the EU forcing it to).

Better browsers include: Chrome, Firefox, Iceweasel, Opera, Konqueror, Safari, Chromium, and many more.

One good thing may come of this. The UK goverment may finally move away from ie6 after years of protest.

Thanks to Rob for alerting me to this story.

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