The web has come a long way in the past nine years.  Unfortunately, there are still a few people out there (17% of you) that seem to like the web how it was in 2001.

This is unfortunate, because that 17% is missing out on a whole new world of interactivity, design aesthetics, functionality, speed, security, and quite frankly, I can’t understand why.

Internet Explorer 6 has been criticized by web standards experts, internet security firms, and designers since it’s launch in 2001.

In June 2004, the U.S. Government’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) urged readers to use ANY browser other than IE6, because of security flaws. Read the article here.

As of 2009, the security firm, Secunia, counted 142 vulnerabilities, of which 22 remained unfixed.  Some of these 22 are classified as moderately critical in security. Read the article here.

In 2005, PC World magazine rated IE6 as one of the 25 worst tech products OF ALL TIME.  This list is going back 30 years.  The list included some older products, but also included AOL and Windows Me, which turned out to be a complete dud.

On top of all the security flaws prevalent in IE6, there is much criticism from web designers and web standards experts regarding the functionality of IE6.

The problem is that IE6 does not support CSS2, unlike most browsers.  This means that developers must write hacks and other coding workarounds to ensure proper display.  This means a longer turnaround time and extra costs that are then passed on to the client.

Jeff Zeldman, author and leading web standards guru says

“IE6 is the new Netscape 4. The hacks needed to support IE6 are increasingly viewed as excess freight. Like Netscape 4 in 2000, IE6 is perceived to be holding back the web.”

IE6 does not support transparent PNG files, which are smooth transparent images, that allow for shading and depth on a web page.  Designers must include hacks that display less attractive transparent GIF files that leave a choppy, hard edged outline.  This option certainly lends itself to a less  fulfilling web experience.

Even social networking leader, Facebook, has decided their users using IE6 will receive an inferior user experience, by not allowing many features when using IE6.  They bluntly explain why, and encourage the user to upgrade their browser.

The thing that escapes me the most is the reasons for not upgrading your browser.  Aside from some large institutions and government bureaucracies, that require certain software that will only run on IE6, there isn’t much reason for a normal user to stay with such an antiquated piece of software.

Imagine you got a car in 2001 (internet explorer 6).  This car was comparable to other cars at the time.  It wasn’t the fanciest, it wasn’t the most secure, but there weren’t many other options, and it got the job done.

Now, imagine five years later, you were offered a brand new car. This car was fancier, quicker, safer, and it was FREE (internet explorer 7). You decided to turn it down.

After nearly ten years, you were offered a newer, faster, even more secure car, with side impact air bags and anti-lock brakes, all wheel drive, and stability control (Mozilla Firefox 3)… Completely free. But still, you turned this car down for your ten year old jalopy that was falling apart, had proven safety issues, and frankly was ugly as sin.

The logic escapes me.

As an IE6 user, you may not even know what you’re missing out on.  But, do yourself a favor, download a newer browser.  One of my personal favorites is Mozilla Firefox, an open source browser with lots of add-ons and extras. Google Chrome is a new kid on the block.  If neither of those entice you, you may want to try Microsoft’s replacement for IE6, IE7 here.  However, you shouldn’t get attached to IE7 too long, because version 8 was just released.

Trust us folks, you’ll be happy you did.