Google Phasing Out Internet Explorer 6.0

Google's phasing out of Internet Explorer means big changes for the Internet
Google claims big advances require them to cut off support for IE6. But recent history suggests other motives.

For those of you who are not computer geeks, this may all seem a bit esoteric. But in the power plays between Google and Microsoft, this is big news. I received an email today as an administrator of a Google Apps domain that Google has now officially begun the process of terminating support for Internet Explorer 6.0, an old version of that browser that goes back almost ten years now and whose frustrations have been the bain of many web developers.

This is good news for developers because major support for “Killing IE6” means cover for us to continue developing for modern browsers and a justification for ending our support for the dinosaurs. This website ended it’s support of IE6 not quite a year ago, when the new look of DFE was released. But this news is not all about making us developers feel better, nor is it all about moving the Internet forward. Though Google announces it’s requirement for “faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5,” this is a thin veil for entirely non-technical motives. Recall Google’s recent history with China and the fact that the key to China’s snooping was a security flaw in Internet Explorer that Microsoft was aware of and you begin to see the shape of at least one angle of this new announcement.

Microsoft has released preliminary guidance to mitigate the problem and is working on a formal software update.

So far, Microsoft “has not seen widespread customer impact, rather only targeted and limited attacks exploiting Internet Explorer 6”.

Even without this fact, there has always been ample security justification for ending support for IE6. But that Microsoft was aware of the problem means once again, Microsoft has a big black eye on the basis of security problems. And that means opportunity for Google, whose Android OS and Chrome browsers both stand at the ready to pick up the slack left by wary security admins who by now are getting pretty frustrated with Microsoft’s lack of security meticulousness. Add to this the fact that a major player (Google) just announced that it will no longer be supporting the venerated browser – meaning that not Google-supported pages alone, but entire swaths of the Internet will no longer render correctly – and you’ve got a lot of pressure to dump Internet Explorer at the least… and while they’re at it, maybe Microsoft Operating Systems altogether.

So while a lot of this is technical stuff that only us geeks get into, keep a eye out for Google- and Microsoft-related news in the next year. Things are going to get interesting. Google’s full statement is reprinted below:

Dear Google Apps admin,

In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5. As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010. After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar.

Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above.

Starting this week, users on these older browsers will see a message in Google Docs and the Google Sites editor explaining this change and asking them to upgrade their browser. We will also alert you again closer to March 1 to remind you of this change.

In 2009, the Google Apps team delivered more than 100 improvements to enhance your product experience. We are aiming to beat that in 2010 and continue to deliver the best and most innovative collaboration products for businesses.

Thank you for your continued support!


The Google Apps team

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

2 replies on “Google Phasing Out Internet Explorer 6.0”

Comments are closed.