Retro browser smackdown: IE6 vs. Netscape in 2011



What would happen if you attempted to surf the modern web using the much maligned IE6 or the virtually extinct Netscape 6.1? Would your computer melt? Could you even load a website before getting hit by a virus? I had to find out.

Ten years ago, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 6, one of its most enduring products. Improbably, IE6 is still the browser of choice for an estimated 12% of web surfers (according to data from Net Applications), despite security flaws and the presence of better, more modern browsers. IE6's launch date was August 2001, the same month as the release of Netscape 6.1, distributed by AOL and based on early code from the Mozilla project. The market dominance of IE6 and its successors destroyed the Netscape business once and for all.

Just for fun, I decided to try to surf the modern web with the original, pre-patched IE6 and Netscape 6.1, testing both on a Windows XP virtual machine. Here's what happened.