Yesterday, Microsoft released to the world its first non-testing version of Internet Explorer 9.
To go with this, Microsoft has recently launched a duo of websites aimed to convince people both that IE6 should be dropped, and also that people should upgrade to IE9 (Or at least 8, since IE9 is not available for Windows XP).
This is clearly quite a bold move by Microsoft, which made a lot of effort over many years to make IE6 the de-facto browser. There was also a lot of work put into making ‘IE-specific’ sites that worked best on IE6 due to subtle (Also some obvious and painful) changes in web code. This is hopefully becoming a thing of the past with IE9’s much touted compliance to web standards, and is welcomed by web developers far and wide. They have even launched a new site showcasing performance and web standard tests to prove IE9’s apparent greatness.
By visiting the ‘Internet Explorer 6 Countdown’ site, you can see some interesting statistics (Provided by Net Applications) of the global distribution of IE6 usage. At first it seems like a non-issue, when you consider that only 12% of IE users run IE6, when you really consider it, that 12% represents a lot of people. Try as I did, I could not find anything at all that could tell me what numerical value that 12% represents but if you consider that roughly 10% of people on this planet have access to the internet via computers, that is around 600 million people. That 600 million is obviously subdivided by people using Macs, PCs, etc, and that the total share of browsers subdevide that still, but IE still has a ~57% share of the browser world. At the end of the day you can reasonably say that at the end of all of it, thats Millions of people.
Furthermore, when you consider how some countries like South Korea (And I think China) have required their citizens by law to have IE6 Active-X plugins to access their online banking, the scale of the problem starts to become apparent. Again, that is the country of South Korea (48,747,000 people in 2009) required everybody to do this by law in order to access their online banking. South Korea represents 24.8% of that 12% of IE6 users.
Pretty serious stuff, that 12%.