Preston Gralla

Microsoft celebrates as Internet Explorer 6 dies, Windows XP wilts

January 03, 2012 6:24 PM EST

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It's rare that a company celebrates when one of its products bites the dust, but that's what Microsoft just did with the news that Internet Explorer 6 is essentially dead in the U.S. with less than 1% of market share. And they're no doubt celebrating in Redmond with the news that users are abandoning Windows XP in near-record numbers.

In a blog today Roger Capriotti, Director of Internet Explorer Marketing, cited numbers from Net Applications showing that IE 6 usage in the U.S. has dropped below 1%. So the company baked a "Goodbye IE 6 cake" and posted a photo of it. Capriotti says that Austria, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Ukraine, Portugal and the Philippines now all have less than 1% IE usage.

Why should Microsoft care? As Capriotti puts it:

"We hope this means more developers and IT Pros can consider IE6 a 'low-priority' at this point and stop spending their time having to support such an outdated browser."
That's not to say that IE 6 is dead everywhere. As Computerworld notes,
Almost one-in-four Chinese PCs used IE6 to access the Internet in December, while Chinese users accounted for 58% of all copies of IE6 run worldwide that month.
Microsoft may not be pleased with that, but it should warm the hearts of people who worry about China outcompeting us -- if they're still using such an outdated browser in large numbers, they can't be as cutting-edge entrepreneurial as people fear.

Microsoft also has reason to celebrate the gradual demise of XP, the operating system that refuses to die. It has been such a stable, popular operating system, that the only way to get many people to stop using it would be to pry the computer on which it ran from their cold dead hands. Computerworld notes that Net Applications found that in December, Windows XP use dropped 2.4%, and now has a new low 46.5% market share as tracked by Net Applications.

Again, why should Microsoft care? If people are still using Windows XP, it means they haven't upgraded to a newer OS, which means lost revenue for Microsoft. And Windows XP represents a lot of lost revenue, because even though the operating system is more than 10 years old, it still has close to a 50% market share.

Here again, those who worry about China can take heart. Windows XP is on an astonishing 70% of China's personal computers, compared to only 29.6% of computers in the U.S., says Net Applications' head of marketing, Vince Vizzaccaro.