Usage of Internet Explorer 6 has finally fallen below 5% in the United States and Europe, perhaps signaling the end is near for Microsoft's nine-year-old IE6 browser.
US usage of IE6 dropped to 4.74% in May 2010, and to 4.61% in Europe, according to new statistics from StatCounter, a web analytics firm that collects data from more than 3 million websites.
Nearly 11.5% of US web surfers were using IE6 just 12 months ago, but the browser has lost users every month to newer versions of Internet Explorer and browsers such as Firefox and Google's Chrome. IE6's 4.74% U.S. share in May was down from 5.09% in April.
IE6 is on the way out because of security concerns, and hassles faced by web developers and designers "who have often had to recode their site to get it to work", StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen said in a new release.
The Google Docs service is phasing out support for IE6, and the Google-owned YouTube is doing the same.
IE6 market share will just keep dropping, because now that market share is below 5% more developers will stop supporting IE6, thus forcing the remaining holdouts to switch to modern browsers, StatCounter indicates.
"At these levels web developers now have valid justification not to support IE6 in the future," Cullen says.
Even Microsoft is urging users to dump the aging Internet Explorer 6.
There are some indications that IE6 still has some life in it, however. A separate study in April by Chitika, a search-based online advertising network, found that IE6 was the fourth-most popular browser during peak business hours, with 13% share. Chitika's data suggests IE6 is still being used on many business computers, but not by users at home.
According to StatCounter, IE6 is still the most widely used browser in Africa, with 22% market share. In Asia, IE8 has finally overtaken IE6, with 21.8% share compared to 20.8% share.
But in the US, 30.5% of users have upgraded to IE8, and 16.6% of users are on IE7.
The several versions of Firefox have 29.4% market share, with Chrome checking in at 8%.
Safari, the default browser for Macs, iPhones, and iPads, had 9% share in May.