This browser was launched in 2001, that's 8 years ago. In internet terms that's the equivalent of 32 years! (given the rate at which the internet evolves).
Most people upgrade or change their computer every 2-3 years so why are so many people still using IE6?
A lot of it has to do with people working in corporate environments, where they have internal systems that ONLY work with IE6. Corporates are reluctant to invest in upgrading their systems to allow an upgrade in the browser. As far as they are concerned it works for business critical systems so who really cares if it does not work with Facebook or Twitter (which they most likely block anyway).
Secondly, fear is an issue. Some people are comfortable with what they already have and as long as developers keep making sites that work with IE6 there is no real need to upgrade. Upgrading can seem scary and confusing and having your comfortable program change can be perceived as a challenge.
As website developers we spend a huge amount of extra time making websites work in IE6. It requires carfeul testing and fixing of the issues ans bugs the program has to make it look and work correctly. It's hard to explain this to a client and justify the expense as well. In my view achieving pixel perfection is pointless, so long as the user experience is comparable I think this is acceptable.
BUT there is hope on the horizon, for a while now some reasonably large sites have started dropping support for IE6. The reasons stated are the difficulty /cost in supporting the browser and the fact it limits the functionality they can provide. Modern browsers (IE8 included) are far superior in terms of security, capability and performance when compared with IE6.
Add to this the news this week that the popular news site Digg is considering dropping support for IE6 and YouTube showing an "We will be phasing out support for your browser soon' message. While these sites have relatively small percentages of IE6 users (primarily due to corporates tending to block these types of sites) this is still potentially ignoring 1 in 10 visitors (for Digg).
I think this is a good sign, it may not have much impact on the corporates but it starts to send out a message in general that this browser is becoming no longer viable. Let's hope that someday we can say goodbye to IE6.
So are you still using IE6? Want to change? OK check out the links below for some other great browsers:
Firefox - My personal favourite, fast, reliable and packed full of features. You can also install a massive range of plugins to provide additional functionality
Google Chrome - new kid on the block from the mighty Google. Seriously fast and being developed all the time.
Opera - not many people have heard of this browser but its been around a long time gets regularly updates is super fast and secure
Internet Explorer 8 - Microsoft completely revamped this version to make it faster and more secure. Have to say they did a pretty good job of it.