Why People Still Use IE 6

Avatar of Chris Coyier
Chris Coyier on (Updated on )

Internet Explorer 6 is always a hot subject of debate. We’ve talked about it here many many times. The forums are full of folks trying to troubleshoot it. The CSS support is problematic and the JavaScript support is proprietary nonsense.

The conversation is heating up a little hotter than usual lately, as major companies are starting to pull support for it. Apple’s new MobileMe service doesn’t support it. 37 signals is phasing out support for it. Matt Mullenweg says WordPress.com is still seeing about 25% of visits from IE 6 but will consider phasing out when it drops below 10%.

I thought I would start the conversation by covering the reasons I think people still use this browser. The percentages I am applying here are just for fun and complete speculation on my part. Feel free to chime in with comments on why you think so many people are still using this browser.


1. Because they have to (30%)

I hear fairly regularly from people using IE 6 because that’s what is on their computer at work and they are not allowed to change it. Big companies are slow to change, that has always been true. I’m no security expert, but I’m told IE 7 is a much more secure browser, I would think that alone would be intensive for big companies to get their employees on IE 7. But still, from an IT perspective, I can understand how rolling out a change like this can take tons of man hours for seemingly little benefit, especially if using the web isn’t core to the companies business.

People might also hold onto IE 6 because they use a website that either does, or claims to, only work on that browser. These websites are getting fewer and far between but they are certainly out there.


2. Because they have an old computer. (20%)

If they are using Windows 2000 IE 6 is the most current browser for that operating system as far as I know. Not to mention ME and 98.


3. Because they actively don’t care / dislike change (35%)

I say “actively” because if they just “passively” don’t care, Windows has probably automatically upgraded them without them even knowing. If they are actively not caring, they are probably clicking “No” and “Cancel” on whatever dialog boxes come up suggesting upgrades. They are probably creating more work for themselves by doing so, but they don’t know that.

If anything does change on their system, they may even take drastic steps to have it restored to it’s original version. I bet Geek Squad people could tell your stories of people demanding their web browser be returned to IE 6 after accidentally upgrading. People get used to using software in a certain way to get what they need to do done, and they are prone to getting upset if anything interrupts that.


4. Because they don’t know any better (15%)

I believe this is the smallest portion. People that could or would upgrade to a better browser, if convinced, but just don’t know the advantages yet.


Noticeably missing from this list:

“Because they want to.” I bet there are some crazies out there that love IE 6, but this is sub 1%.


What do these things all have in common?

There is very little we can do. We can educate people about the advantages of better browsers, but a lot of times we are just preaching to the choir or talking to deaf ears. The realit is, as we probably all know deep down, is that we are just going to have to wait this out. In a few years we’ll see probably lower than 10% usage across the board. Then we’ll be upset about a whole new set of things we want to use but are upset IE 7 doesn’t support!