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  1. #1
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    Google Dropping Support For Older Browsers

    Well it was only a matter of time but it's finally happening, Google are dropping support for older browsers:

    As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely.
    Read their blog entry here.

    What is everyone's thoughts and reactions to this news?

    I don't think it will have too much of an affect on home users as many may well be using the newest versions. Where I feel it will have the most impact will be users in the workplace, where they might not be able to upgrade to the latest version. It may push some business and education users back towards other office software suites, eg MS Office.
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  2. #2
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
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    It probably will affect the workplace. Although, workplaces that actually use google apps/docs tend to be a bit more progressive and keep up with updates reasonably well.
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  3. #3
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    Specualtive, but I think we'll see lots of the IE6 stuff finally fall off. The apps that were built for IE6 are starting to age out. PCs and OSes with IE6 are starting to age out. World is moving past things enough that people see value in modern browsers.

  4. #4
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    I think we'll see lots of the IE6 stuff finally fall off.
    Why would Google dropping support for IE7 have any affect on IE6 use? Surely IE6 users were impacted as much as they were going to be by Google back when Google dropped support for IE6.

    Or are you thinking about those workarounds that were needed for IE7 that also worked for IE6 - eg. a workaround for CSS tables.
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    I think this a right step forward in encouraging people to update their browsers allowing devs to express themselves without too much legacy support issues. But to say some Google apps may eventually stop working entirely with old browsers seems a bit harsh to me. They should maintain fallback versions of their apps if they can.

  6. #6
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by metasansana View Post
    They should maintain fallback versions of their apps if they can.
    Who is going to pay for that? If Google is only earning enough from advertising to support modern browsers and adding support for IE6 and 7 will approximately double the cost then just who is going to pay Google this second half of what it will cost them? I suppose if they charged everyone for accessing their site then they could afford to provide that extra support but would you be prepared to pay your share of the extra cost to Google to allow them to support those few people who live in mud huts and hunt mastodon for a living or would you expect those people to pay for the extra cost themselves (and mastodon hunters are less likely to pay to use Google than they are to move out of their mud hut into a modern house).
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  7. #7
    It's all Geek to me silver trophybronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    What is everyone's thoughts and reactions to this news?
    The more the big players like Google abandon these older browsers, the faster people will be moved to upgrade, so I'm all for this. I know there's an argument for not forcing people to abandon old technology, but the reality is that technology moves at a fast pace, and people who want to use it need to move with it. Those who hold on the the old stuff slow down progress for everyone, and really, it's not exactly expensive to upgrade to a newer browser. OK, it sometimes requires upgrading the OS, but even that's not hugely expensive and there's always Linux. The big companies that hold on to old technology have the resources to upgrade, too. At worst, they could make a little cut into those huge executive salaries to pay for the upgrade.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    Who is going to pay for that? If Google is only earning enough from advertising to support modern browsers and adding support for IE6 and 7 will approximately double the cost then just who is going to pay Google this second half of what it will cost them? I suppose if they charged everyone for accessing their site then they could afford to provide that extra support but would you be prepared to pay your share of the extra cost to Google to allow them to support those few people who live in mud huts and hunt mastodon for a living or would you expect those people to pay for the extra cost themselves (and mastodon hunters are less likely to pay to use Google than they are to move out of their mud hut into a modern house).
    You missed my point a bit; I said "if they can" and you also make it sound like Google is struggling financially (Maybe they could start selling Mastodons on the side). What I'm suggesting is keeping the simple html versions like gmail for slow connections etc. Its perfectly understandable that some if not all of the Google apps will require newer technologies and will not be able to support older technologies.

    But what about users with slower connections and strict web browsing policies like no JavaScript etc. If my browser doesn't support HTML5 you wont let me open an email attachment?

    Of course this is not the case as the did say they will support up to the last three generations of the browsers. So overall I think its a good move.

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    Overall it's a good move but I think Google does it in a nasty way because they simply state their web pages may stop working in those older browsers. The proper way to go is graceful degradation - sure, it takes a little bit more work but not as much as striving for full support. If someone uses an older browser they don't necessarily die for cutting edge html 5 gimmicks like file drag&drop - just make the small effort to ensure these features simply don't work in older browsers without breaking general usability.

    Apart from that, not all google inventions requiring newest browsers are really more user-friendly than their older plain-html counterparts. Take for example the new image search result page - unreliable and jittery scrollbar, slower scrolling, no back button support, no visible information about image origin - I just can't see the point.

  10. #10
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    Maybe things have changed since last I looked, but from what I've seen of the mark-up and javascript Google has let through, I'd be surprised if modern browsers can deal with it. Sounds more like an excuse to be lazy than a desire to get on the cutting edge.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Enthusiast Matt G.'s Avatar
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    I think it is a good move because it forces users to move to new browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome. I am not sure as to why people still use old browsers, other than the fact that they cannot find the time to update it.

  12. #12
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague View Post
    Maybe things have changed since last I looked, but from what I've seen of the mark-up and javascript Google has let through, I'd be surprised if modern browsers can deal with it.
    That's the main reason I gave up on gmail - because it doesn't work properly in modern browsers - at least not with JavaScript enabled.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemon Juice View Post
    If someone uses an older browser they don't necessarily die for cutting edge html 5 gimmicks like file drag&drop
    By the time the web is really ready for features like that, I'd expect the older browsers we are talking about to be long gone. Perhaps I'm wrong

    Quote Originally Posted by felgall View Post
    I gave up on gmail - because it doesn't work properly in modern browsers - at least not with JavaScript enabled.
    Huh, I've not found that at all. Works fine for me.

  14. #14
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    f**k yes!
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  15. #15
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    Which is completely retarded when all they do is deliver plaintext -- though if you look at the bloated train wrecks their latest versions have been, it's no wonder. Seriously, 39k of markup, 245k of external javascript, and 4 images totalling 97k for this:

    Google

    Go 380k pageload for a dozen static links, one presentational image and one form! (sheesh, no wonder they keep having to build new data centers)

    I swear, it's like they're forgetting what made them great in the first place... though they're so well established that at this stage of the game they could take a dump in a waffle cone, call it ice cream and people would yum it up. Remember what I was saying about the dark future of the internet? THERE IT IS. Bloated ******** for nothing other than wasting bandwidth and cutting into their own profits thanks to their own coders ineptitude.

    ... and then we wonder why ISP's are trying to implement pay as you go in most every market more than 20 miles from a backbone.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    ... if you look at the bloated train wrecks their latest versions have been, it's no wonder. Seriously, 39k of markup, 245k of external javascript, and 4 images totalling 97k for this:
    Google[

    Go 380k pageload for a dozen static links, one presentational image and one form! (sheesh, no wonder they keep having to build new data centers)
    Devils advocate response ...

    They're relying on almost every bodies browsers already having that data cached. A single visit to store the cached data and the download is done and dusted. Even if the user clears their browser cache, the chances are that their ISP has already cached it anyway in which case it wouldn't Google's servers anyway.

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    It only means Google will not test their services with very old browsers. But they may still work. Anyway, I think it is about time that browsers made in 2006 (IE7) go away.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanhellyer View Post
    They're relying on almost every bodies browsers already having that data cached. A single visit to store the cached data and the download is done and dusted. Even if the user clears their browser cache, the chances are that their ISP has already cached it anyway in which case it wouldn't Google's servers anyway.
    For the Scripting I can see that as a semi-valid way of looking at it -- except that then it's wasting everyone else's storage space and with a 20-40 meg default cache size in most browsers, it's just as likely to get flushed if you visit enough sites.

    It does NOT explain the completely nonsensical bandwidth wasting 39k of markup for less than half a k of plaintext and one form! That just screams ineptitude of the highest order and if you look under the hood, it's all inlined CSS, static scripts, redundant attributes and a nasty case of "not every ejaculation deserves a name"!!! They want to leverage cache, maybe they should consider writing code to do so!

    It's turning into such a bloated mess I'm starting to look at Bing as a practical alternative just because it's 100k smaller and loads twice as fast now! SHOCKING given the giant stupid image they put behind the main page for it!

  19. #19
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    I don't think it will have too much of an affect on home users as many may well be using the newest versions. Where I feel it will have the most impact will be users in the workplace, where they might not be able to upgrade to the latest version. It may push some business and education users back towards other office software suites, eg MS Office.
    Agreed. Where I work (over 1000 employees), we're in the middle of upgrading from IE6 to IE8, but more than half are still on the old system and we don't yet know when it will finish going through. I'm sure we're not alone in this!

    Quote Originally Posted by metasansana View Post
    But what about users with slower connections and strict web browsing policies like no JavaScript etc. If my browser doesn't support HTML5 you wont let me open an email attachment?
    Businesses will have to review their policies, and be pragmatic about what can and can't be allowed. If a company's essential email functionality stops working because of a niggling IT policy, most businesses will take the sensible approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt G. View Post
    I think it is a good move because it forces users to move to new browsers such as Firefox or Google Chrome. I am not sure as to why people still use old browsers, other than the fact that they cannot find the time to update it.
    The main reason people are using old browsers are (i) old computers that don't support newer versions, either because the OS doesn't or just because they are too low spec, (ii) corporate networks where upgrading the browser can be a major job, particularly if using an older OS.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deathshadow60 View Post
    It does NOT explain the completely nonsensical bandwidth wasting 39k of markup for less than half a k of plaintext and one form! That just screams ineptitude of the highest order and if you look under the hood, it's all inlined CSS, static scripts, redundant attributes and a nasty case of "not every ejaculation deserves a name"!!! They want to leverage cache, maybe they should consider writing code to do so!
    Point taken.

    I doubt it would affect their resource usage though, as most of their resources would be used for processing search queries, their static page content would create negligible load for them in comparison.

    I don't disagree in the slightest that their main site code is totally borked though. I have no idea why they write it the way they do.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie D View Post
    The main reason people are using old browsers are (i) old computers that don't support newer versions, either because the OS doesn't or just because they are too low spec, (ii) corporate networks where upgrading the browser can be a major job, particularly if using an older OS.
    Or are stuck on dialup and flat out can't afford it. People often lose sight of the fact that in America we have massive areas where a high speed connection is 768/128 that runs $100/mo or more... and area's where 33.6 dialup is still a good day -- take Coos County here in New hampshire. I travel 80 miles north and there is no such thing as broadband! The Dakota's, most of the deep Appalachians and Rockies -- we're talking large swaths where the only thing you might be able to get for broadband is the ridiculously overpriced "hughes-net" rubbish.

    Downloading even a modern browser is impractical at those speeds.

    You also have the poor. Not everyone can afford to drop a grand or two every three years -- I know a lot of people still using Windows 98 boxes... Hell at a friend of mine's work she's on a Win98 machine that wipes itself nightly back to just IE6 and hyperterminal -- the latter of which is still used to connect into their client database on a bloody PDP-11. "It works, why spend money we don't have to?". (I'm more than aware of this as I'm the only person in town qualified to SERVICE one of those)

    Stevie is also quite correct in pointing out corporate users. Microsoft did something really innovative with Trident when they released IE 5 -- they documented the entire engine API and allowed anyone to use it to build their software -- letting you leverage HTML and CSS to build your application UI's... and I have to laugh at the FLOSS whackjobs who badmouthed that while promoting the use of XUL runner; or how "HTML behaving as full desktop applications" is some miraculous new idea for IE 10.

    MANY of the in-house crapplets tossed together with Trident, most of them written in Visual Basic, break if you so much as THINK about upgrading to a newer IE and don't work in other browsers. Some of them even break if those other browsers steal the default program status. We're talking ten and twelve year old software that you tell the boss "we need to update it" they're going to ask "why, it's working just fine with the software we have."

    ... and saying "Well, some web developers are too lazy to support it and want to use a bunch of fancy bells, whistles and gee ain't it neat animooted effects that have nothing to do with content delivery" isn't going to fly as an answer! Frankly that is what it boils down to in many cases as if people would pull their damned heads out of 1998's backside, practicing separation of presentation from content, semantic markup, built the sites using progressive enhancement with accessibility in mind from the start, they wouldn't have these issues of at least making the pages WORK in legacy IE. If you build using "progressive enhancement" should said bells, whistles and "gee aint it neat" bull are unavailable the site gets "graceful degradation"!

    They don't have to be pixel perfect, they don't have to have all those fancy bells and whistles -- but they should still be at least usable -- WITHOUT "HTML 5 shim" idiocy, WITHOUT "IE conditional comments" bloating out the markup to cover up bad site-building methodologies, and without any real extra effort on building the site!!!

    But of course people will just continue sleazing out code as fast and half-assed as possible who cares if it works anywhere but their pet browser at their pet resolution and screen size, much less how much it ends up costing in the long term for hosting, loss of potential clients via a high bounce rate, needlessly complex code that's impossible to maintain much less debug, etc, etc, etc...

  22. #22
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    My feelings are mixed. I appreciate the need to leave deprecated and browser-specific markup behind, but I wonder whether Google will support Lynx, a text-only browser that's very useful for the blind -- or Classilla and iCab, which are useful for people keeping alive those classic (pre-OS X) Macs? Too few people already are practicing progressive enhancement, but if Google keeps accessibility in mind while making this move I will be pleased.

  23. #23
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    I agree with deathshadow - google is becoming an example of bad coding practices and their requirement for newest browsers is more an indication of laziness than real problems with older technology. I don't believe they are so poor that they cannot afford to support older browsers. If they just rejected IE 6 I could understand - I wouldn't expect 11-year old technology to be supported. But if they are dropping IE 7 and FF 3.5 it sounds like they are lazy, ignorant or on some mission to reject old browsers. Actually, the last one could be true - maybe they've figured out that the more they push people to get rid of old browsers the better their odds of getting them to download Chrome that they so agressively advertise.

    And google not only rejects old browsers. For example, in Seamonkey 2.0 (based on FF 3.5) the live search-as-you-type doesn't work on the main google page. Neither works their 'improved' image result pages. They fall back to the old plain html versions. And it's enough to spoof UA string saying I am firefox and all those features work perfectly. Not only do they use browser sniffing all over the place but they also fail to do it right. And what about Opera?

  24. #24
    Barefoot on the Moon! silver trophy Force Flow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lemon Juice View Post
    I agree with deathshadow - google is becoming an example of bad coding practices and their requirement for newest browsers is more an indication of laziness than real problems with older technology. I don't believe they are so poor that they cannot afford to support older browsers. If they just rejected IE 6 I could understand - I wouldn't expect 11-year old technology to be supported. But if they are dropping IE 7 and FF 3.5 it sounds like they are lazy, ignorant or on some mission to reject old browsers. Actually, the last one could be true - maybe they've figured out that the more they push people to get rid of old browsers the better their odds of getting them to download Chrome that they so agressively advertise.

    And google not only rejects old browsers. For example, in Seamonkey 2.0 (based on FF 3.5) the live search-as-you-type doesn't work on the main google page. Neither works their 'improved' image result pages. They fall back to the old plain html versions. And it's enough to spoof UA string saying I am firefox and all those features work perfectly. Not only do they use browser sniffing all over the place but they also fail to do it right. And what about Opera?
    It's not laziness...it's just not cost effective to hack in features for older browsers (and/or lesser-used browsers), like IE 5.5 and 6. While on the other hand, these features are built-in and readily available in newer browsers. I can spend a couple hours on a design and have it work perfectly in firefox, chrome, safari, and opera...but IE always needs some massaging, and I often spend up to a few days working out the kinks and bringing things up to par because of missing browser features or non-standardized standards.

    Sorry, it's just not worth my time to support older browsers--especially for browsers with their own quirky standards and falling adoption rates. When the development time to support severely outdated browsers with a low usage rate is 400 times more than what 80% of what the rest of the web surfers use, it really isn't cost effective for anyone.

    But, if your primary audience is composed of IE6 users, then (sigh) you'll have to accommodate them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Force Flow View Post
    But, if your primary audience is composed of IE6 users, then (sigh) you'll have to accommodate them.
    I said I don't mind IE6 - there must come a point where support has to be dropped. I'm talking about IE7, FF 3.5, etc. - these browsers are not that old and making sure a site is usable in them, without all bells and whistles, is not such hard work. I think it's too soon for these ones to be dropped completely.


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