As Internet Explorer 6’s (IE6) usage share declines, Microsoft is growing more aggressive about convincing users to upgrade away from the older browser.
Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) latest play to undercut IE6 — which is still the second most popular version of IE in use on the Web — is a tiny ad that appears on the Bing search engine’s home page, promoting IE8. Clicking on the ad takes users to a site extolling the virtues of IE8 and providing a link to download the latest version of IE, which first became available in March 2009.
However, the ad does not display for users who are already using IE8, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
Microsoft has made no bones about wanting to get users to move off of IE6, but has run into resistance from some corporate users who are also still running Windows XP, instead of the newer Windows 7 version of Microsoft’s PC operating system.
“Microsoft has continually recommended that users upgrade to the latest version of the browser. The small prompt on Bing is just one of the ways Microsoft will continue to encourage users to update if they have not already done so, but those that have updated, like you and me, will not see this prompt when visiting Bing.com,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an email to InternetNews.com.
The move comes on the heels of the most recent browser usage share numbers from Web analytics firm Net Applications, that show that usage of the nine-year-old browser continues to decline slowly but surely.
According to Net Applications, IE6 lost 0.8 percentage points to finish August with 16.2 percent of all U.S. browser usage, down from 17 percent in July. For August, IE6 finished third behind IE8, which had a 27.9 percent share. Firefox 3.6 had a 16.8 percent.
Overall, IE6 has fallen from 24.42 percent share in the past year, a slip of 8.22 percentage points, while IE8 grew from 16.84 percent in the same time period.
“Net Applications is reporting that IE6 share is now at its lowest point ever … As we have said in the past, one of our main missions is to get people off IE6 as fast as humanly possible,” Ryan Gavin, senior director of Internet Explorer business and marketing, said in a post to the Exploring IEblog a week ago.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is busy preparing for next Wednesday’s festivities — Sept. 15 — designed to celebrate the release of the first public beta test versionof IE9, which the company has touted as the fastest and most standards compliant version of IE to date.
Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.