Microsoft launches fresh campaign to get users to upgrade from Internet Explorer 6

Opinion by Dan Raywood

The end of last week saw a new campaign from Microsoft to get users to stop using the troublesome Internet Explorer 6 browser.

The end of last week saw a new campaign from Microsoft to get users to stop using the troublesome Internet Explorer 6 browser.

The ‘campaign' was begun by Microsoft with a tweet asking supporters to ‘get rid of IE6' and a website claiming that ten years on from its launch ‘it's time to say goodbye'. Microsoft also said that its website ‘is dedicated to watching Internet Explorer 6 usage drop to less than one per cent worldwide, so more websites can choose to drop support for Internet Explorer 6, saving hours of work for web developers'.

For a time it was the top trending topic on Twitter, while the campaign website shows how many countries are still using IE6 and the share of the browser usage globally. China (34.5 per cent) and South Korea (24.7 per cent) are the largest users of the browser while the lowest are Scandinavian countries Norway and Finland (both 0.7 per cent). The UK has a reasonably low user percentage at 3.5 per cent while the United States is even lower at 2.9 per cent.

All interesting statistics I am sure you will agree, but does this effort really address the problem? The negative headlines for IE6 really began around the start of last year following the link to a vulnerability being a factor in the Aurora attacks on Google, leading to a trickle of stories regarding slow migration away from IE6.

However do statisics really change people's perceptions? The campaign is bound to be well-supported by the security industry who would love nothing more than to have users on up-to-date versions of browsers as not only would this make users more secure, but also ensure that their software can be run on modern platforms.

Writing on the Security Garden blog, Corrine said: “I understand that not everyone has the latest and greatest computer. These are hard times and we all need to watch our budget. However, there have been numerous advances in IE since version 6 was introduced ten years ago. Forget the pretty-pretty new features. Most significant, from my point of view, are the enhanced security features in the newer versions of Internet Explorer.

“Granted, IE9 is not compatible with Windows XP. However, you can still upgrade to IE8. IE8 has significant built-in security features, including SmartScreen, cross-site scripting filter, click-jacking prevention, data execution prevention, InPrivate browsing and InPrivate filtering.”

As for me, I have always believed that a lack of migration away from the much-used XP operating system in a business environment is down to cost and practicality factors. It is hard to generalise IT departments because there are so many differing factors between different them, but I would suspect many financial institutions and public sector companies are using up-to-date technology, but a quick look at workstations in my local supermarket informs me that they are still on XP and I am willing to bet, still on IE6.

As for personal users, it is more a lack of appreciation of the need to upgrade. Also I am sorry to say it but fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) does sell and perhaps more than a social media and website campaign is needed to ‘scare' people into upgrading. A look at the public information films from the 1970s were either set to inform or scare in an educational capacity, so perhaps something more hard-hitting may be more effective?

For the moment I really hope this campaign works for Microsoft and it sees its IE8 and IE9 take-up soar.


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