Facebook to kill IE6 support for Chat on IE9 beta day

Facebook logoFacebook has announced that it will soon end Internet Explorer 6 support for Facebook Chat. The kill date is September 15—the same day Microsoft plans to release the first IE9 beta. Today's announcement comes just a week after Microsoft launched a beta version of Windows Live Messenger that integrates with Facebook Chat.

Facebook explains its decision by saying that many users have complained about unstable chat sessions, or ones that stop completely. In order to improve the way connections are established and messages are sent, however, the social networking giant must make changes that aren't supported by older browsers.

Microsoft plans to support IE6 along with Windows XP until April 2014; the software giant insists that "dropping support for IE6 is not an option." Instead, the company has resorted to marketing and promoting IE8 while criticizing IE6.

Meanwhile, a growing number of technology firms have taken the problem into their own hands. The IE6 hater is Google: the company has killed off support for the obsolete browser in Google Docs and Google Sites, Gmail and Google Calendar, as well as YouTube. Even Microsoft has taken some baby steps in this direction; the new Office Web Apps don't support the browser either.

Facebook's decision is reason for IE6 haters to celebrate, but unfortunately it's not going to spell doom for the ancient browser. The majority of IE6 users come from the corporate world, and as we've discussed before, one of the reasons that world keeps IE6 around is exactly because it doesn't work well with social networking sites like Facebook. Facebook's changes may mean fewer IE6 users using the chat feature, but this won't be because the change will spur people into upgrading—they can't upgrade their office machines. It will be because they won't be able to chat at all.

Last month, IE6 had a usage share of just under 17 percent; at the start of the year it had just over 20 percent. Major sites putting an end to IE6 support for popular features is not enough to kill the browser, but the rapid growth of Windows 7 should make slow but steady progress in eradicating it from the Internet.

Tags: browsers, Facebook, Internet Explorer

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