The Internet Explorer 6 death watch continues, but the end is near. Microsoft’s ancient browser may still haunt web developers’ nightmares, but according to the latest data from Net Applications, its global market share has now finally dipped under 5 percent.
Even Microsoft will be quite happy to see this, especially given that, for Internet Explorer as a whole, the last month was pretty good (though it still has IE6 at 6.1 percent global market share).
While other browsers barely registered any changes in their global market share last month, all versions of Internet Explorer together now account for 57.79 percent – its highest number this year. Most of this is still driven by IE8 users, however, who account for 21.39 percent of users in Net Application’s stats and still make it the most popular browser version in its rankings. The reason for this is that Windows XP users just can’t upgrade beyond IE8 and as long as those XP machines are out there, that number isn’t going to change all that fast.
The launch of IE11 for Windows 7 and 8 is just around the corner. Microsoft’s latest browser is probably its best so far, but the IE legacy will forever be tainted by those earlier versions that got so much wrong and the fact that Microsoft has essentially abandoned them without any upgrade path beyond switching to another vendor.
While IE8 and 9 at least include some HTML5 features, IE6 predates so many of these efforts that drag-and-drop and @font-face are really the only semi-modern web technologies it supports.
Maybe now that it has fallen under 5 percent, developers can finally completely forget about it. IE8, however, and in some ways, has already become the new IE6, thanks to its lack of an update path and support for the latest web technologies.