Microsoft IE6 Zombies Hinder Windows 7 Adoption

Last Updated Mar 1, 2010 2:36 PM EST

In the current lexicon of popular culture redemption, people answer questions about their past by saying, "I've put it behind me." Not so for Microsoft (MSFT), at least when it comes to products. That's because companies standardize on one version of Microsoft software and can't replace that critical item, turning the application into a vengeful ghost and making it impossible for the company to do other things -- like upgrade all their systems to Windows 7.

A case in point is the Intel (INTC) plan to move to Windows 7. What's going to make it tough? Among other things, the need to move from Internet Explorer 6:

The requirement to use Internet Explorer 8 introduces even more challenges. Intel has delayed deployment of IE7 and IE 8 in our intranet due to known issue with some very important applications. With the move to Windows 7, IE8 becomes a "must have" compatibility. IE8 does offer an IE7 compatibility mode, which can mitigate some issues, but other applications are written to require IE6, and mitigation of these issues must be addressed. There are also known issues with such things as Office Web Components, IE plug-ins, java versions, etc., that can really make this a challenge.
In other words, Intel has some important in-house applications and tools that are dependent on this old version of IE and that can't work with later versions. There are other issues for the company in moving from Windows XP to 7, but this specific one highlights a problem that Microsoft has historically faced. Because of its market success, product designers and executives have always tried to make products backward compatible, and that includes operating systems. However, you can only do that for so long.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, when it comes to IE6 and many other products, incompatibility can mean that a corporate client simply doesn't upgrade, which reduces Microsoft's potential revenue from a new operating system. And the market share for IE6 is currently reported at 19.8 percent. Want to bet how many of these users are in large corporations and effectively stuck?

Image: user BlueGum, site standard license. Modifications: Erik Sherman.

  • Erik Sherman On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.