Internet Explorer’s demise is great news for Google’s Chrome browser in China

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Microsoft’s aging, little-loved Internet Explorer browser is finally on its way to the digital scrapheap—and few in China will miss it when it goes. That’s because Internet Explorer has already stopped functioning with Microsoft’s similarly ancient Windows XP operating system, which is still widely used in China.

Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome browser still supports XP, and the result is that it has rapidly won a 53% share of the desktop browser market in China, according to web tracking firm StatCounter.

Google went out of its way to tell Chrome users that it would still support Windows XP at least until this April, even after Microsoft stopped, highlighting the security risks of using an unsupported browser:

Since unpatched browser bugs are often used by malware to infect computers, we’re extending support for Chrome on Windows XP, and will continue to provide regular updates and security patches until at least April 2015.

We recognize that hundreds of millions of users, including a good chunk of current Chrome users, still rely on XP. Moreover, many organizations still run dozens or even hundreds of applications on XP and may have trouble migrating. Our goal is to support Chrome for XP users during this transition process. Most importantly, Chrome on XP will still be automatically updated with the latest security fixes to protect against malware and phishing attacks.

The fact that Chrome is thriving in China is unexpected, since most of Google’s services, including search and Gmail, are blocked by Chinese censors. Aside from a stripped-down version of Google’s Android mobile OS, which is ubiquitous in China, Chrome may be one of Google’s biggest mainland success stories—in large part because it supports antiquated Microsoft software that even Microsoft won’t touch.