Microsoft begs users to stop running IE6

Filed Under: Internet Explorer, Malware, Microsoft, Vulnerability

Microsoft has launched another salvo in its campaign to hammer the final nail into the coffin of an outdated, insecure product: Internet Explorer 6.

The problem with Internet Explorer 6 is that Microsoft no longer supports it, and the creaky old web browser simply doesn't provide anything approaching a sufficient level of defence as severely critical vulnerabilities have been left unpatched.

A new website, www.ie6countdown.com, attempts to convince users of the reasons why they should upgrade to a more secure version of the web-browsing software, and provides information for organisations on how they can best migrate.

What I found particularly interesting, however, was a graphic of the world showing the percentage of browser marketshare Internet Explorer 6 has in each country.

Internet Explorer 6 countdown

India, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Vietnam are all doing a poor job of choosing a hardened web browser, with IE6 responsible for ten percent or more of the browser usage in those countries.

But the worst country by miles is China, where - according to Microsoft - Internet Explorer 6 accounts for over a third of the browser usage. Hmm, I wonder how much of that is related to pirated copies of the software that users have chosen not to replace with legitimate later versions?

Anyway, this is a good campaign by Microsoft - and although it is clearly designed to switch people to Internet Explorer 9, anything which encourages computer users to throw its ageing predecessor IE6 in the garbage bin has to be applauded.

I was rather tickled by the way Microsoft phrased it on their official Twitter account:

Make Microsoft's day - help them kill off Internet Explorer 6.

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22 Responses to Microsoft begs users to stop running IE6

  1. George · 1263 days ago

    Many, if not all these software companies don't consider the user at all. MS's changes in IE have driven me to use an older version of Firefox. The same is true of FaceBook and YouTube and others.

    • Mark · 1263 days ago

      Why on Earth aren't you using the latest version of Firefox???

      Older Firefox versions have many exploit vulnerabilities in them too!

    • Jonah · 1263 days ago

      I agree with Mark, you should be using the latest firefox.

    • synack · 1259 days ago

      IE7 and 8 slow your pc down. If you are limping by with an older XP system, I say don't load 6 and get Opera or Firefox.

  2. homerbufflekill · 1263 days ago

    I love that Microsoft is using a URL-shortener in it's twitter posts. IE 9 might be more secure, but when you just clink masked links . . .

    • JPL · 1263 days ago

      Microsoft's left hand may be telling me to drop IE6, but its right hand is telling me the newer versions do not work on Win2000, and so I use Firefox.

      Microsoft's left hand is telling me to upgrade to IE9, but its right says that company policy determines that IE9 will never be supported on Win XP, and so I use Firefox.

      I do like a consistent message.

      • Digger · 1263 days ago

        Nothing wrong with Firefox, but the consistent message coming from Redmond is use Windows 7 and IE 8 or the upcoming IE9.

        Don't want to or can't be bothered? Then VM anything that can't be run in Win7 or use Linux.

      • A_K · 1261 days ago

        @JPL

        The problem there is that you are using 2 out of date items of software.

        Win 2000 is not support and nor is IE6.

        Microsoft's message is pretty consistent, "Use a supported version of our software"

    • Thu Win · 1263 days ago

      They should have used their own URL shorterner like micro.soft/

  3. Donna · 1263 days ago

    Please, please, please stop using the word insecure when what you mean is unsecure. The browser doesn't have self-esteem problems. Really.

    • Actually, insecure is used more. The New Oxford American Dictionary (2009) says: Insecure: "able to be broken into or illicitly accessed," and "(of a thing) not firm or set; unsafe."

      Some other dictionaries agree. And, on the other hand, none have "unsecure."

    • Mark · 1263 days ago

      "Unsecure" negates "secure" used as a verb—"To unsecure...", "The browser was unsecured by bad programming".

      "Insecure" negates "secure" used as an adjective—"It is insecure...", "The browser was made to be insecure by bad programming".

      Just because the word is used in one context it doesn't make it unavailable for use in other contexts (as is true of all words, in fact) especially as the meaning of the word in both contexts is actually very similar.

      "Insecure" is the proper use in this context.

    • Richard · 1263 days ago

      "Insecure: ... Exposed or liable to risk, loss or danger" http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insecure

    • Paul Ducklin · 1263 days ago

      The use of "insecure" to refer both to people (not self-assured) and to things (unsafe) seems to date back some 300 years.

      "Unsecure" sounds strange to me, and my dictionaries agree. Both offer this word in the form of a past participle only - "unsecured" - to refer specifically to a loan not backed by some collateral.

      Outside the field of computer science, "insecure" is routinely used of physical objects - a quick search for "insecure load", for example, shows the term in official use by traffic authorities in at least Canada, the USA, the UK, South Africa and Australia.

      May I humbly suggest that an article in which one is trying to convince people - notably non-native English speakers who might need to use a dictionary - to get rid of IE6 would not be the best place to try to introduce a novel word usage?

  4. Thu Win · 1263 days ago

    I guess many companies that use IE6 to gurantee that their software works or can't be hastled with the job of upgrading and testing compatability.

    However, IE8 are still compatable with many softwares under IE6 and compability mode can mimick IE6 so sites don't break.

  5. There are a lot of Mom and Pop shops that have old systems that they just can't afford to:
    1) Upgrade to a new OS
    2) Upgrade their existing equipment to handle the new OS
    3) Hire an IT person to install new software/new hardware
    4) Take time to learn new software/OS

    They figure, if it ain't broken, don't fix it. Of course, they don't know that it's broken. This is true even of larger companies, the tellers at a major US bank are using some flavor of WinXP, so they would only be able to go up to IE8.

  6. Bob · 1263 days ago

    I stopped using IE many years ago. Microsoft thinks its OK to release new versions of software that breaks the 3rd party apps that run with it, they don't publish full APIs for the 3rd party programmers that are used by their own teams and they include MS specific protocols so that other browsers can't run HTML written for IE. I even tried to remove the IE executable to prevent other people from running it when they used my machine - the windows OS reinstalls it !!! What a mickey mouse company.

  7. Fully agree, the anti-competition laws now makes MS give us the option of alternative browsers, but you still have to work to access them not as default. Still does not make them make their crappy browser work with all sites.

    I want to use Opera with Windows Update and Windows Live with all functionality, why not?

    • Mark · 1262 days ago

      Most non-IE browsers will never work with Windows Update for two reasons:

      1) The Windows Update website uses ActiveX which most browsers won't support because it introduces severe vulnerabilities by allowing access to the Windows operating system.

      2) Windows updates cannot be performed unless the WU website can access the operating system, so ActiveX is essential for that to work

      Just do what I do: The only time I ever use IE is when I need to run Windows Updates (which I usually auto-update anyway). It's not such a big hassle.

      • Aelie · 532 days ago

        Occasionally one encounters an IT department that tries to enforce total uniformity, and installs access routines that only work in IE. I have had to retain IE for that. Mind you, from the perspective of IT, their stance makes sense --- a lot of completely clueless users spread out over facilities in four different counties, with 115 miles between the two main facilities. However, it makes life a lot harder for people who are *not* completely clueless.

  8. Brevan · 1262 days ago

    IE6 is still supported by MS for Windows XP Professional SP3
    See http://support.microsoft.com/gp/lifesupsps/#Inter...
    So 'officially' it should be getting security updates.

    It's confusing to be telling people to stop using it and still be supporting it.

  9. Robert Wurzburg · 979 days ago

    The irony of all this is most people are using the default settings of any version which
    is VERY unsecure.

    By choosing custom settings in all Explorer Security zones, you can achieve maximum
    protection without sacrificing browser and Internet access and functionality.

    Write me- radioman260@yahoo.com for more information, or let me post an article I
    can be paid for that your readers will most appreciate to secure their computers more.

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About the author

Graham Cluley runs his own award-winning computer security blog, and is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and gives computer security presentations. Send Graham an email, subscribe to his updates on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and App.net, and circle him on Google Plus for regular updates.