Microsoft this week touted Net Applications and Forrester data that shows, for the first time, that business use of the aging and insecure Internet Explorer (IE) 6 web browser is finally on a steep decline. Meanwhile, business usage of the more modern and safe IE 8 browser is on a similar upward trend, indicating that corporations are simply moving over to Microsoft's newer product.

"In the last six months, IE 6 usage is now declining faster among enterprises than it is among worldwide consumers," Microsoft Director Roger Capriotti wrote in a blog post on the company's website. "In November 2010, IE 6 commercial usage share as tracked by Net Applications reached an all-time low at 10.3 percent. This is actually significantly lower than all-up IE 6 usage share, which dropped to 14.55 percent in November. At the same time, IE 8 commercial share has surged over the past several months to 34.1 percent—over three times the commercial usage share of IE 6."

But even that 14.55 percent figure is skewed, Net Applications says. That's because IE 6 usage in China is a whopping 45 percent. When you exclude that data, IE 6's overall usage share drops to just 7.62 percent.

Microsoft has made it a priority to move customers off of IE 6 because of that browser's dated security controls and lackluster feature set. Part of the problem is that IE 6 is deployed as part of Windows XP, the popular OS that got a several-year life extension when Windows Vista tanked with businesses. So there are thousands of businesses around the world with intranet, partner, and custom websites that are all designed to work within the peculiar technical limitations of IE 6.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's more modern browsers continue to fare well. According to Net Applications, IE 8 usage grew .74 percent in November and is the most popular browser in the world, by far, with 34.6 percent usage share. (Number two Firefox 3.6 has 20.68 percent share.) And Microsoft's next browser, IE 9, has proven popular in pre-release form. More than 15 million people have downloaded the beta version of IE 9 since September, Microsoft says.