Korea Takes Aim at IE6 — Portals to End Support by January?

Ice the champagne, break out the party poppers, unwrap the hors d’oeuvres because — yes! — Korea is declaring war on Internet Explorer 6.

From July 14 until the end of the month, the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) is working with Naver, Daum, Microsoft, the Korea Internet Security Agency and others on the snappily named “Old Browser (Internet Explorer 6) Upgrade and Multi-Browser Use” campaign. As the name suggests, the campaign will be focused on getting Korean individuals and businesses to abandon the now 10-year-old browser in favour of a newer version of Explorer, or even — woah! — a different browser altogether.

The ultimate aim of the campaign is to have Korea’s biggest portals discontinue support for IE6 by January of next year.

As of this June, according to figures from Statcounter.com, 18 percent of Korean netizens are still using IE6, compared with a global rate of just 4 percent. In addition, some 93 percent of Korea’s internet population uses some form of Internet Explorer, compared with 44 percent globally.

As ZDNet points out, there are numerous problems with this aged, creaking browser, which have already led global behemoths such as Google and YouTube to stop supporting it. Besides not offering newer fonts, IE6 doesn’t automatically update security patches, leaving computers highly vulnerable to viruses and use as “zombies” in denial-of-service attacks. In addition, most web developers no longer use IE6, making it difficult, expensive and time-consuming to maintain services and sites optimised for use on the browser.

To encourage Koreans to abandon IE6 in favour of the likes of  IE9, Chrome or Firefox, the KCC has put together a special page on the KISA website explaining how to switch to a new browser and the benefits of doing so. Korea’s main portals are helping with the effort, with pages of their own explaining the changes.

With many businesses in Korea still stuck in IE6 purgatory, the KCC is busy promoting the benefits of switching browser to them as well. The Commission expects that by reducing IE6 use to 10 percent nationwide, businesses could save up to 30 percent in development costs, and a further 15-20 percent in development costs of user interfaces.

Keeping up the astoundingly good news, the KCC said it also plans to continue its push to support replacement technologies for the widely loathed Active X, and educate the public in the benefits of alternatives.

While this is all great to hear, longtime internet users here might believe all this when they see it, not least when beauties like this are still on offer at the biggest supermarkets in the land (HT to @holterbarbour).

UPDATE: Evan Ramstad takes up this story over on his WSJ blog. One enlightening comment reads:

ActiveX is not a technique for encryption. It is actually an outdated framework for running plugins/applications in Internet Explorer, highly vulnerable to all kinds of security attacks. To the best of my knowledge, Korea’s domestic encryption technology, called SEED, was implemented by means of ActiveX, making most other Korean Web applications also dependent on Microsoft’s ActiveX technology, and hence on Internet Explorer.

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