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For many, Internet Explorer 6 is nothing more than a faded memory from the Neolithic era of the Internet. Back in the dark days, before web standards, tabbed browsing, WebRTC WebRTC Explained: What Is This API, and How Is It Changing the Internet? WebRTC Explained: What Is This API, and How Is It Changing the Internet? WebRTC allows developers to build real-time applications, such as MMORPG games and video-conferencing tools, using open web technologies, like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS. Read More and HTML5 What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More  were a thing.

For a long time, Internet Explorer refused to die. But as a result of people upgrading to newer versions of Windows (and, perhaps, the discontinuation of Windows XP What The Windows XPocalypse Means For You What The Windows XPocalypse Means For You Microsoft is going to kill support for Windows XP in April 2014. This has serious consequences for both businesses and consumers. Here is what you should know if you are still running Windows XP. Read More ), it’s finally reached a point where it’s used on less than 1% of systems worldwide.

That said, there are still some people who use Internet Explorer 6 to this day, and they’ve got some valid reasons.

The Curse of Legacy Software

Here’s the thing: Internet Explorer 6 is unspeakably terrible, but people still use it. One percent doesn’t sound like much, but still huge in the context of China and the United States.

One percent of the Chinese population is 13.6 million people. Of the US population, it’s 3.2 million people. So, why do so many people continue to use it?

In a word (or three): legacy enterprise software.

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Back in the early 00s, lots of companies built web internal web applications. These allowed workers to perform tasks (often data-input tasks) from their browser, and were cheaper to make compared to desktop applications.

These applications were overwhelmingly built to work with one web browser, and one browser alone – Internet Explorer 6. At the time, it was the only real, viable choice for PC and Mac (yes, this was long before Safari).

IE6-google

Back then, there was no Chrome, Netscape Navigator was long dead, and Opera and Mozilla Application Suite (there was no Firefox) were still very much niche products.

Internet Explorer 6 was a quirky browser, with little regard for web standards, and its own chaotic way of interpreting CSS and JavaScript. As you might have expect, this resulted in a lot of cross-platform compatibility problems How Do Browsers Display Web Pages, and Why Don't They Ever Look the Same? How Do Browsers Display Web Pages, and Why Don't They Ever Look the Same? Read More , with many websites unable to work browsers other than Internet Explorer 6.

Which is why, to this day, this relic of the past is still used. So, how can you get your hands on it?

Getting Internet Explorer Today

There are lots of ways you can get your hands on Internet Explorer 6 today. Some allow you to merely download an EXE and install it, while others let you emulate it in the browser.

The Microsoft Way

Microsoft still serves downloads of Internet Explorer 6 Service Pack 1. That’s rather surprising given that it’s been officially deprecated for a while, and Microsoft has very publicly campaigned to get people to stop using it.

IE6-Microsoft

To get your hands on a copy, simply click here, and download the exe. It’s also worth noting that IE6 runs really well on Wine Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) with WINE Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) with WINE Read More , for those of us who don’t use Windows as their day-to-day operating system.

OldApps.Com

But while Microsoft still serves downloads of IE6, they’re prone to removing old software from their website. It’s only a matter of time until they remove it for good, which is why it’s worth looking at other sites.

OldApps.com, as the name suggests, offers downloads of old software. From retro gaming, to old Shareware apps, to unsupported system utilities, it offers everything. Including older versions of Internet Explorer.

IE6-oldapps

Take note though, this isn’t an official source, and you should treat each file you download from here with extreme caution by checking it with a Virus scanner.

With WineTricks (For Linux Users)

WineTricks is a helper script for Wine, which streamlines the process of downloading and installing Windows applications on Linux.

To install IE6 with WineTricks, first install Wine. You can either install it through the Ubuntu Software Center, or through apt-get:

sudo apt-get install wine

Then, install WineTricks. You’re going to need to download the script using wget, give it executable permissions, and then move it to /usr/bin folder with superuser permissions What Is SU & Why Is It Important to Using Linux Effectively? What Is SU & Why Is It Important to Using Linux Effectively? The Linux SU or root user account is a powerful tool that can be helpful when used correctly or devastating if used recklessly. Let's look at why you should be responsible when using SU. Read More .

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Winetricks/winetricks/master/src/winetricks
chmod +x winetricks
sudo mv winetricks /usr/local/bin

Then, installing Internet Explorer is merely a matter of running the following command, and waiting for it to complete:

winetricks ie6

BrowserStack and Sauce Labs

There are some good reasons to be wary of installing Internet Explorer 6 on your main computer. It stopped receiving security updates a long time ago. If you’re going to use it, you should use it in an isolated, secure environment.

Or better yet, just don’t use it on your own computer. Use somebody else’s.

BrowserStack and Sauce Labs both allow you to test websites using a variety of browsers, whilst remaining in the browser. You don’t need to download an application, or use VNC, although BrowserStack works best when you install their plugin.

IE6-browserstack

They work by leveraging hundreds of virtual machines, each configured to run different versions of Windows, Linux, Android or iOS. Each of these support a broad smorgasbord of browsers, including most versions of Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Yandex, and Internet Explorer.

Sauce Labs (which Christian Cawley covered in 2012 The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers The Secrets Of Previewing Webpages In Multiple Browsers As good as all browsers are (in their individual ways), browsers all share a single failing – none of them displays a web page absolutely perfectly.For most of us, this doesn’t really matter, although there... Read More ) is one of the more mature options, and also has the best free trial of them all, as it allows you access to all of the possible browser choices for 14 days, no credit card required.

IE6-Saucelabs

BrowserStack’s free trial is more limited, with only a handful of browsers available to use. If you want to use Internet Explorer 6, you’d better open your wallet.

What About Chrome Frame?

Finally, let’s talk about Google Chrome Frame. This was a browser plugin released by Google in 2009, in order to help companies migrate to Chrome, whilst still maintaining compatibility with their older apps.

Unfortunately, Google discontinued it last year, and they removed all downloads from their site. While it’s possible to find a copy hosted on a third-party site, it might not work with the latest-and-greatest version of Chrome.

If you do download a copy, make sure you check it beforehand, to ensure that it doesn’t come packaged with some unwanted malware.

Party Like It’s 2001

It’s also worth noting that although a vast improvement on IE 6, Internet Explorer 7 and 8 shared its idiosyncrasies, and lack of respect for standards. As a result, many sites still only work with those browsers.

Just like Internet Explorer 6, you can find these browsers on sites like OldApps.com, as well as on Browser Stack and Sauce Labs.

There’s also IE Tab Use Internet Explorer in Google Chrome With IE Tab Use Internet Explorer in Google Chrome With IE Tab Internet Explorer users and IE-only websites still exist, so even Chrome fans have to use IE occasionally. Why bother launching Internet Explorer when you can run it in a browser tab? IE Tab is ideal... Read More , which allows Chrome to mimic IE 7, 8 and 9. Unlike switching your user agent, which merely pretends your browser is IE, this actually is IE, using the same Trident rendering agent.

Will You Install IE 6?

Feeling nostalgic for a simpler time? Curious to see what your favorite site looks like in an older browser? Or do you have to use a mission-critical web application that only works in IE6?

Tell me about it in the comments below!

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  1. A41202813GMAIL ..
    October 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    OLDAPPS Has A Close Competitor Called OLDVERSION.

    Glad Planned Obsolescence Still Has Some Insurgents Fighting It.

    Unfortunately, People Not Comfortable With ENGLISH Are Screwed - Versions For Any Other Language Are Almost Impossible To Find.

    Legacy Software Is Disappearing Before Our Very Eyes, On A Daily Basis - Sigh...

    XPOCALYPSE FOREVER !

    • Matthew Hughes
      October 27, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Nice. Yeah, I'm kinda glad that somebody is preserving this part of our cultural heritage.

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        October 28, 2015 at 10:28 am

        Yeah, Even Software Manufacturers Refuse To Sell Old Versions Of Their Own Products.

        Cheers.

  2. Howard Blair
    October 26, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    "...downloading and instilling..." LOL.

    • Matthew Hughes
      October 26, 2015 at 9:24 pm

      Typo. It happens.

  3. likefun butnot
    October 26, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Microsoft maintains a set of virtual machines preconfigured with various versions of IE for web developers to test with at https://dev.modern.ie/tools/vms/windows/

    The copies are time-restricted but freely available and can be re-downloaded. You just need to have a supported Hypervisor (VMware, Virtualbox and Parallels are all options) installed

    • Matthew Hughes
      October 26, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Absolutely, that's an alternative option. Thanks man!