Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Fondness for Antiques?

We're at a loss to explain it, but although our readers are unlikely to see a hyperbaric chamber on Antiques Roadshow, they seem to disproportionately favor obsolete technology. We'd like to make the case that while sentiment can play a role in hanging onto old furniture, it has no place in technology decisions.

The occasion for this missive is a campaign recently begun by Microsoft to reduce the use of Internet Explorer 6, an obsolete version of their web browser. Introduced ten years ago and no longer compliant with many web standards, Microsoft would like to lower IE6 usage to under 1% worldwide. In the U.S. usage currently stands at 2.9%.

We did some checking and found that among our site visitors using Internet Explorer, version 6 is used at a rate four times that of the national average. The chart at right shows the breakdown by version.

Interestingly, the rate doesn't seem to vary by region or any demographic figure available to us: it's the same in Utah as it is in Florida. Newer versions of Windows ship with newer versions of IE, so it's almost universally true that IE6 users are also using older versions of Windows.

While hardware and financial constraints might prevent people from upgrading their operating system to the latest version, Internet Explorer upgrades are free (as are the Firefox and Google Chrome browsers) and run on any version of Windows from Windows XP onward. Downloading and installing are easy.

If you're one of the laggards, or know someone who is, we appeal to you: even if you don't care if websites look the way they're supposed to--and if you're using IE6 they often won't--take an interest in your own security. IE6 has flaws that could compromise your private information.

Upgrade today. You can get it done during commercials or a coffee break. You'll be safer and the world (wide web) will look better.

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