Facebook Improving Chat Stability, Asking Users to Upgrade from IE6 by September 15

Chat is one of the “most widely used tools on Facebook,” the company says today about its in-house instant message service (although it’s not sharing exact usage numbers).

But the main news is this: Chat has been getting some technical upgrades intended to resolve long-standing stability problems. And, Facebook is following in the footsteps of an increasing number of other web companies in telling users to ditch an archaic web browser, Internet Explorer 6. From the company blog post:

The biggest improvements come from changes that aren’t supported on older web browsers. After evaluating the alternatives, we’ve decided to make rapid improvements and provide the best Chat experience possible, which means we will no longer support Internet Explorer 6 browsers.

To give people time to update their browsers, we plan to make this change on Sept. 15. If you’re using Internet Explorer 6, you can learn more about downloading a newer version here.

While it’s not specifying the technical upgrades to Chat, Facebook is giving users yet another reason to get a modern browser. IE6 was released in 2001, and it is still in use on many computers around the world, in part because companies have discovered that if they don’t upgrade, their employees are unable to use a wide variety of popular web services, like Facebook Chat.