Google Apps Drop IE6 Support

By Craig Buckler

IE6 is binned by GoogleGoogle has announced they are dropping support for Internet Explorer 6.0 within Docs and Sites from March 1, 2010. After that time, key functionality may fail in IE6 and other antiquated browsers.

The search giant has justified the action because “many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers”. That’s certainly true and YouTube is a high-profile example. (I’m sure it’s a co-incidence Google owns YouTube!)

Google has good commercial reasons encourage IE6’s demise. Their future strategy and web applications depend on newer web technologies such as HTML5 which do not work in older browsers. Dropping IE6 may also persuade a number of individuals and companies to switch to Google Chrome.

The company’s announcement states users have several alternatives such as IE7+, Firefox 3.0+, Chrome 4.0+ and Safari 3.0+. Opera is not mentioned, but I suspect that’s a press release oversight — Google Docs works in version 10.10 and I doubt Google are purposely snubbing the browser. SynBay

As a developer, I welcome Google’s stance on IE6. However, there are a few unusual aspects to their statement:

  1. IE6 has a worldwide market share of 15%. It’s only around 5% in the US and Europe, but it’s still used by more people than Google Chrome. Google has immense power, so should they be able to dictate which browsers people use — especially when they’re biased toward their own software?
  2. In my experience, IE7 causes just as many development headaches as IE6. There’s little reason for users not to upgrade to IE8, so why not drop IE7 too?
  3. I would be a little annoyed if I were using Docs in a corporate environment where IE6 is enforced — especially if I’d paid for the Google Apps. I’ve no idea how many people that affects but I bet it’s more than none!
  4. Google Docs currently works in IE6. Like YouTube, I doubt the service will suddenly stop working on March 1. Newer features may cause problems, but it’ll be several years before IE6 becomes unusable.

Perhaps I’m being overly analytical? Any news which prompts people to upgrade can’t be a bad thing! See Google’s full announcement for further details…

  • Mrs. Micah

    Actually, re: Opera it may have been a purposeful snub because, in my experience, Gmail doesn’t work well in it. If I left an account logged in, sometimes it would lose all functionality and I’d have to reload or even logout & log back in to be able to make the Compose function or Send function work.

  • Anonymous

    any corporate IT that enforces IE6 is certainly incapable of anything or just a total sloth. sure keep IE6 around for lame obsolete intranet application, but you can have more than 1 browsers in your computer.

  • That’s definitively great news. I have always had the opinion that google could make a change with the IE6 problem. They are moving, that is cool. As for reading between the lines of the decisions, that’s not very important to me – get us rid of IE6.

  • Joe Nuts

    Didn’t google say something like it’s evil not to support the major browsers when they launched Chrome? Dropping support for the outdated IE6 is one thing, but not supporting Opera is suspicious. Opera is afterall more advanced than most of the other browsers and gas strong following in Europe and Asia.

  • Clintonio

    I’ve never really had problems with Opera and Google products. I have Gmail open in Opera 10.10 all day, and never had a problem with it.

    Also, I refuse to support IE6 in any way at all when developing. Even if it costs me.

  • It’s amazing how people cling to something as outdated as IE6, people gotta understand that the same way we want the newest Tvs (I don’t see anyone watching Lost on black and white TV), we must also envolve on the Internet. I have several customers who still use IE6 and I say: “A prerequisite for my work is to do not use IE6, you are losing the best of the internet.”.

    People should lose this habit of keeping the of for “security” or whatever, this is bad for everyone.

    *sorry for any typos, not from EUA =)

  • Correction: “keeping the old for…” =)

  • “I would be a little annoyed if I were using Docs in a corporate environment where IE6 is enforced — especially if I’d paid for the Google Apps.”

    Sure it would be annoying, but what you gonna do? It’s Google’s app, they can do what they want with it. And honestly, if IE6 is being enforced, I really doubt they’re using the cloud in any big way. Just stands to reason there, IMMHO. I wish a lot of apps had Linux versions, but they don’t. We have to live with our choices.

  • How many people use Google Docs anyway? Or for that matter, any online office apps? I’d be surprised to learn that it’s anything other than a tiny experimental niche of users, not anything approaching a significant user-base.

    Despite the hype, web applications are not going to threaten offline applications anytime soon.

  • W2ttsy

    i doubt that google will stop people using IE6. it will just end up like youtube or facebook with messages telling you that IE6 has reduced functionality. I reckon they will be adding in support for SVG and more widespread use of canvas, both things are problematic in IE6.

  • @bbolte
    If Microsoft dropped XP support in MS Office 2010, you could still use older versions which you paid for. Google Apps arn’t like that. They’re effectively telling 1 in 20 users that the applications they purchased will fail from March 1.

    Remember that many corporate and government IT departments still use IE6 so legacy applications continue to work. Installing other browsers may be banned or disabled. That’s not necessarily because they’re backward, but because they have 50,000 users to support on standardized desktops. These are the very organisations Google’s been targeting!

    So yes, dropping IE6 is Google’s decision, but giving one month’s notice may backfire.

  • dudemanbro

    If Microsoft dropped XP support in MS Office 2010, you could still use older versions which you paid for. Google Apps arn’t like that. They’re effectively telling 1 in 20 users that the applications they purchased will fail from March 1.

    Web Apps have some down sides now don’t they

  • How many people use Google Docs anyway?

    I wonder if any of LA City Council’s 30,000 staff use IE6? I bet some do.

    Google want to attract governments and large companies to the system, but those are the very organizations who are likely to be using older browsers. It’s not just IE6 either – according to the announcement, even Chrome 3.0 is considered old!

  • Web Apps have some down sides now don’t they

    Of course. They also have up sides. No software distribution model is perfect.

  • The biggest down-side of cloud apps is trust – you can’t trust that the content is secure, and you can’t trust that the app will always be accessible. Here is a perfect example.

  • Cody

    Google continue to “cache” web pages using IE6. I, for one, cannot wait.

  • Picky

    The image that you have attached to this blog post is using the wrong IE logo. Your picture depicts IE7 being thrown away.

  • Dan

    HELL YEAH GOOGLE! Companies need to get their shi!t together and learn what a web browser is. Seriously.

  • I see this as a good thing. It’s time to push IE6 out of use. I’ve already dropped support for it, although I still give it a quick check to make sure that it’s at least somewhat working in that browser. I’d rather have 80% of users falling in love with a site because my effort went into making it THE ABSOLUTE BEST for them. I’m fine with losing a few IE6 users for that.

    Much better than having a site that works for 100% but is amazing for none of them.

    Not that these options are mutually exclusive, that’s just where my priorities lie.

  • DesigningStudios

    Wow… it the best step

Get the latest in Front-end, once a week, for free.