Internet Explorer 6 is a web browser, like Google Chrome or Firefox. It's over 10 years old, and is an enemy to a lot of web designers and developers who know their onions.
That's because web professionals like to use a lot of standard technology that isn't well (if at all) supported by this browser. You're probably not running it on your home PC, but if you work for the third sector or a very large company with a big IT department, you may be one of the 8.3% of people who use it at their desks.
What's the beef?Because IE6 doesn't support a lot of the stuff web designers and developers like to use - rounded corners on boxes, certain layouts, high quality transparent images - and because it behaves very strangely when given code other browsers can understand, often the same functionality has to be coded twice (once for IE6, and then for the rest of the web), hobbled or taken away from those using the older browser.
Many movements over the last few years have sprung up to try and encourage people to move away from IE6, but now Microsoft are finally taking the initiative, and bulldozing it with a new automatic upgrade.
Oh happy day!If you're running Windows Vista or 7 you won't be affected, because IE6 doesn't ship with those operating systems, but if you're running Windows XP or an earlier version, you might find your browser's look and feel changes suddenly.
Hopefully Microsoft will tell you what's happening, so look out for any messages that appear, talking about Internet Explorer. If you're using IE6 (you can check this by going to the Help menu and clicking About, and looking for the version number) and you get automatically upgraded, you'll hopefully enjoy a much smoother and more rich web experience.
Is it all good news?
If it's quick, painless but ultimately mandatory, this could be a big help to a lot of digital agencies who constantly struggle over this dinosaur, and have to code for a fractured web. My worry is that computers on networks run by IT managers who restrict a computer's ability to automatically upgrade, might not get this vital shot in the arm.
Will councils up and down the country still be forced to use IE6 because their IT managers are too lazy to upgrade, or can Microsoft circumvent these restrictions?