Even though Microsoft released the next version of it's browser Internet Explorer 10
and many big sites dropped support for IE 6 (Google
there are still about 115 million people in china who use the outdated browser IE 6.
According to statistical reports
has approximately 538 million Internet users and Microsoft claims that 21.3 % of them still use the 11 year old browser IE 6.
This leaves us with about ~115 million IE 6 users in china alone. How can be explained that, while the world has moved away from IE 6, china has not?
Many Chinese people are using IE 6, due to many of them using old Windows XP machines and failing to upgrade hardware, OS and its browser.
While XP users can run a newer version of Internet Explorer, such as IE 7 or IE 8, they have to manually upgrade or install a browser upgrade
provided by Windows Update.
The BSA Global Software Piracy Study
claims that 77% of software in china is pirated. Most users of pirated software never open windows update or upgrade their browser out of fear
that Microsoft can detect this and disable or cripple the software. While you could manually install IE 7 or IE 8 even on pirated windows xp system
many users simply fail to do so.
But windows xp and software piracy are not the only reasons for the remaining popularity of IE 6. Many commonly used Chinese websites
are still optimized for IE 6 without consideration of web standards and other browsers.
While there is some small hope that Microsoft will be able to urge Chinese users to upgrade there browsers (providing cheap upgrades to windows 7 or 8 for example)
I think IE 6 will be a popular browser in china for the next few years.
Meanwhile we need to ask the question if websites can afford to loose 115 million potential users and customers by dropping support for IE 6.