In a post to its official enterprise blog, Internet giant Google has announced it will begin phasing out support for Microsoft’s nearly decade-old Internet Explorer 6 Web browser. Beginning March 1, IE6 users will start to find Google’s Web based applications and services—starting with Google Docs and Google Sites—will stop working well with Internet Explore 6. Eventually, IE6 won’t be able to use the services at all.
“The web has evolved in the last ten years, from simple text pages to rich, interactive applications including video and voice. Unfortunately, very old browsers cannot run many of these new features effectively,” Google Apps senior product manager Rajen Sheth wrote in the post. “Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.”
Officially, Google will continue to support Internet Explorer 7+ (including IE8), Firefox 3.0+, Google Chrome 4.0+, and Apple Safari 3.0+.
Internet Explorer 6 has long been a thorn in the side of Web developers and application designers: although the application sported many new features when it debuted with Windows XP nine years ago, the browser’s well-known bugs and maddeningly incomplete, inconsistent, and often incorrect support for Web standards has forced many developers to specifically create retrograde services explicitly for IE6. And despite the fact that the more-standards-compliant IE7 and IE8 have been available for some time, Internet Explorer 6 is still on of the most widely used browsers on the Internet: according to StatCounter, IE6 still accounts for more than 13 percent of worldwide Web usage; other metrics firms put IE6’s share even higher.
Google isn’t alone in dropping IE6: when Apple launched its MobileMe service it raised eyebrows by never supporting IE6 in the first place; similarly, Microsoft itself won’t be supporting IE6 in its own Office Web applications. Microsoft has been encouraging Windows users to update to IE7 and IE8, but doesn’t plan to force anyone to do anything: Microsoft officially intends to support IE6 through early 2014.