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Why are old browsers so popular?

I was interested to read an article on The Next Web (TNW) which mentioned that almost 25% of the world’s web browsers are still IE8 or older!

I don't suppose that I'm a conventional PC user. I have Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Opera installed on both my laptop and PC (all the latest versions).  If pressed, I would admit that I’m primarily a Chrome browser user. I like many of the features in Google Chrome, in particular its ability to perform searches on my laptop or PC and later lookup the results on my Android phone. Despite my use of modern browsers, I was still surprised to see just how many people used older ones.

The TNW article mentions one reason that older versions of IE “refuse to die”. Those people who are using the Windows XP operating system are unable to upgrade their browser beyond IE 8. Microsoft has a long running campaign to dissuade people from using old IE versions which are no longer patched or receive security updates. The IE6 countdown page shows those parts of the world where IE6 is still in use. 

The main “culprit” is China. This is probably down to the fact that a few million people are using a pirated OS that can’t be upgraded, but other parts of the world don’t even have this excuse. The UK for example,  has a stubborn 0.5% of PCs using IE6 to access the Internet! This is a ten-year old browser! This usage may well be in large corporates where they can’t or won’t upgrade their browser, possibly to support legacy in-house applications. (I’ve worked at clients where this is the case).
What I don’t understand is why these people don’t use an alternatives (like Chrome or Firefox )alongside IE? Google has cottoned on to the fact that many users will cling onto Windows XP past the Microsoft “end of life” date in April 2014 and is extending support for Windows XP Chrome users to April 2015.
One thing that this means for testers is that we still need to consider simulating users on these old browsers for as long as they remain in service. We can’t afford to ignore 25% of the Internet’s traffic when testing so we need to consider browser type when testing. If this means recoding multiple scripts, then so be it.

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