Print 42 comment(s) - last by Lerianis.. on Feb 5 at 6:29 PM

Google has delivered some bad news for computer users clinging to the ancient Internet Explorer 6. It's dropping official support for the browser. An estimated 20 percent of the market (largely business users) still use IE 6.  (Source: Mouse Mates NI)
Google looks to lay a dinosaur of a browser to rest

Internet Explorer 6 was a well-liked browser that helped expand Microsoft browser market share to epic proportions (it has since slid to about 60 percent following the international success of Mozilla's Firefox).  

However, perhaps it was a little too good.  Many companies and individual users liked it so much that almost nine years later they still use the dinosaur of a browser.  And surprisingly some of the tech world's biggest names -- including Adobe Software and Google – use the browser not only for compatibility testing, but for daily browsing needs as well.

The danger of using such badly outdated software was brought into focus when Google and others were struck by hackers exploiting a flaw in Internet Explorer.  The latest version of IE -- IE 8 -- was at substantially lower risk, thanks to its memory protections.

Now Google has reportedly released an internal memo saying that the company will no longer use 
or support Internet Explorer 6.  Writes Google:

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.

The decision to drop IE 6 support both internally and publicly is a rather bold move by Google.  In January Net Applications showed IE 6 to still be clinging to 20.06 percent market share -- almost as much as the newer IE 7.  By abandoning support for 20 percent of users, Google is pressuring users to switch to newer browsers -- something Microsoft has long been pleading customers and IT admins to do, even if it hasn't tried forcing their hands.  Google also risks alienating customers, though, who continue to cling to the ancient browser.

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Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By 3minence on 2/2/2010 11:38:51 AM , Rating: 4
The only people they will alienate are business who won't get off their ass and rewrite there company software to work with other browsers. I worked for a few companies which had proprietary software that only worked with IE6. They refused to spend the time and money rewriting the code.

MS really did their customers a disfavor with IE6, by making a browser that did not work properly with the standards. Now the customers must pay for MS's mistake.

RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By omnicronx on 2/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By fic2 on 2/2/2010 1:13:36 PM , Rating: 5
I am pretty sure that by "the standards" he is talking about W3 standards that were set out by the W3 standards committee. MS just did it's own merry thing and said "F*ck the W3 standards we know better".

RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By 3minence on 2/2/2010 2:35:17 PM , Rating: 2
I was indeed talking of W3 standards.

I do not mean to minimize the time and money involved to change legacy code. It is not a trivial amount. But those companies who have refused upgrade put themselves and their customers at risk.

My wife attends a University that uses the Blackboard software that the student use. It includes messaging, file sharing, and even online exams. The version the University uses says it ONLY works with IE6 and does not support other browsers. Currently I have IE8 on her PC in compatibility mode, and so far it's worked ok, but their is no guarantee. I don't know if Blackboard has fixed it's code yet, or the University refuses to upgrade, but I refuse to run the risk of using IE6.

By DanNeely on 2/2/2010 2:49:26 PM , Rating: 2
If you do run into a show-stopper at some point, MS is putting out free (time limited) XP-IE6 VMs for web-devs who need to do testing. Obviously this is a less than ideal solution, but would her use the legacy crap without running the exposure risk anywhere else.

By adiposity on 2/2/2010 3:15:02 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they did. And that meant, developers had to say, "fvck the w3 standards" too, or they couldn't take advantage of IE's power. A standard that is used by less than 10% of web developers is no "standard" worth bothering with.

Luckily, things are different today and IE6 is no longer the majority. But it still has enough market share to matter.

That said, I support Google's decision. People who are using internal business apps from the 90's can install Chrome/Firefox along side it if they really need Google docs.

RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By Murst on 2/2/2010 3:15:44 PM , Rating: 5
MS just did it's own merry thing and said "F*ck the W3 standards we know better

Keep on living in that dream world. Many of the things we call standards now were in Microsoft software years before the W3C "standardized" them. In many cases, the W3C actually slightly altered their implementation, which resulted in the stuff that MS did to not be compliant. By this time, however, it was too late for Microsoft to change their code, as a lot of money was spent on these features.

Example: XMLHttPRequest ( core part of AJAX ). Microsoft released this in 1999, the W3C created the standard in 2006, of course different from the original implementation in IE. Forced MS to adapt.

I'm certainly not saying that Microsoft didn't make poor decisions. But you are really clueless if you think that Microsoft got to where it is today by looking at what the W3C did and going a different way on purpose.

By dark matter on 2/3/2010 6:55:48 AM , Rating: 2

By omnicronx on 2/2/2010 3:40:24 PM , Rating: 2
I know exactly what he was talking about, and once again at the time MS had total browser domination, W3 standards meant absolutely nothing back then, and actually deviated from what MS had been doing for years.

In fact you can thank W3 for many of the incompatibilities between many of the Web standards and IE6.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for web standards and what MS did in the 90's would never survive today, but do a little research and you will realize that by the time many w3 standards were released, there had been legacy code and different ways of doing things so far entrenched into IE6, that it could not be changed.

RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By BZDTemp on 2/2/10, Rating: 0
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 4:26:36 PM , Rating: 3
And All Life On Earth As We Know It Would Have Ended!

Seriously, think you can tone down the drama queen act a bit?

RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By ICBM on 2/2/2010 5:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
Had it not been for IE being "stuffed" down out throats, we could never have downloaded Firefox,Opera, etc..

I am tired of people claiming Microsoft was/is pushing IE on people. So what if Microsoft includes a browser with the OS, you aren't forced to use it. Last time I checked you can download any browser you want.

By porkpie on 2/3/2010 1:13:13 AM , Rating: 2
Very true. People seem to forget that before MS started distributing a free browser, you actually had to PAY to buy one. Would that fly today? Not hardly.

Had MS started developing Windows today, they'd be sued by the EU for "stuffing a GUI down our throats", since prior to Windows/OS2, our notion of an operating system didn't include a graphic shell. Microsoft should be praised for continually expanding our concept of what an OS is. God knows none of want to go back to the days of having to buy and install separate products such as networking, disk defragger, browsers and ftp clients, and a bazillion other things that we now take for granted because they were "crammed down our throats" by MS.

About time
By amanojaku on 2/2/2010 11:33:32 AM , Rating: 1
The only way people are going to move from IE6 is if they are forced to. The holdouts are businesses whose IT staff claim it's too expensive (um, Windows Update or AD push tools?) or that it's necessary for legacy apps. Necessary? The apps are just a front end; changing the layout to support standard HTML should be easy. That's part of the reason for having a separate app layer.

RE: About time
By jacarte8 on 2/2/2010 11:41:14 AM , Rating: 5
The cost issue isn't the actual rollout of IE 8... the issue is with testing internal applications and web pages for compatibility and then addressing those issues. Most IT staffs are already down to skeleton crew...

RE: About time
By amanojaku on 2/2/2010 11:58:13 AM , Rating: 2
As a vendor one of my responsibilities is to provide proofs of concept that display our products in action. Clients get to poke and prod before making a purchase, and this is where compatibility issues are discovered. The customer should NEVER have to use its own resources for that, and if it does that is its choice.

RE: About time
By porkpie on 2/2/2010 12:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
As pretty as the view is through those rose-colored glasses, incompatibility problems are still rampant. My own company still requires all machines to be IE6, since literally hundreds of apps would need to be tested and patched to work on newer browsers. Most of these apps were written internally, so its no good going back to "the vendor" and demanding they do the work instead.

RE: About time
By Lerianis on 2/5/2010 6:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, yes it is.... you find the guy who wrote these things in the first place, say "I want this recoded for Firefox and standards!" and they go!

If they don't..... they are fired. That is what most of the businesses I deal with now are saying about IE6 and internal apps, and let's be real here: there are AUTOMATED apps that can rewrite WITHOUT ANY USER INPUT proprietary apps for standards.

RE: About time
By SAnderson on 2/2/2010 2:37:10 PM , Rating: 2
Thats the reason for us here most likely. My guess is we'll stay on IE6 until we begin buying new computers with Windows7 already installed.

RE: About time
By heffeque on 2/2/10, Rating: -1
RE: About time
By Camikazi on 2/2/2010 4:43:39 PM , Rating: 3
Yes cause someone who can pirate Windows doesn't know how to upgrade their browser, or use a different one... right.

RE: About time
By jonmcc33 on 2/2/2010 10:22:22 PM , Rating: 2
Nope, there are many web applications that don't play well with IE7 and mainly IE8. Service Desk Express will not work properly on IE8 for example.

So the cost would be to get the company web software up to par with working on IE7/IE8. That usually involves paying developers, buying new licenses, downtime of production environments, etc.

You haven't worked in a corporate environment I take it?

Guess State should move...
By Marlin1975 on 2/2/2010 11:42:38 AM , Rating: 2
I work for Dept of State and we still have to use IE6.

There is talk we MIGHT get ie7 by the time ie9 comes out. :)

and no we are not allowed to install opera, firefox, etc... and no I am not joking.

RE: Guess State should move...
By Griswold on 2/2/2010 1:47:43 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure china and anyone else running their little "cyber-army" is applauding to that policy! :P

RE: Guess State should move...
By dvinnen on 2/2/2010 4:34:59 PM , Rating: 2
All my new DoD projects have had baseline support for IE7 so it looks like things are changing

RE: Guess State should move...
By keith524 on 2/2/2010 9:09:01 PM , Rating: 2
The company I work for uses W2K and IE6. While we can't install Firefox, I run Firefox portable from a flash drive and it works great. I just had to find the proxy server IP and manually enter it.

The <cough> good news is we are just now starting the upgrade to you read that right, Vista.

RE: Guess State should move...
By Lerianis on 2/5/2010 6:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
Vista? For goodness sakes, Windows 7 is so much like Vista that they should just SKIP Vista and go to Windows 7.

Google Drops IE 6 Support After Exploit
By omnicronx on 2/2/2010 12:13:54 PM , Rating: 3
Sorry Jason,

Why are you making it out as though the two are related? It had absolutely nothing to do with the recent exploit, in fact Google has apparently been in the process of removing support for IE6 in various Google apps for almost 6 months.

Every single other tech site I've read seem to send the same message..

Your title doesn't even have anything to do with the article you presented, the Google quote doesn't say that, nor is it repeated elsewhere in your article.

Google does not want to code for old technology, and in reality supporting these old browsers just slows down innovation. Google most likely wants to push new out Google software based on newer technology which just is not possible with older browsers.

By redbone75 on 2/2/2010 1:13:16 PM , Rating: 4
Why are you making it out as though the two are related?

Because it's sensationalist. Got you to click, didn't it? :)

It's necessary.
By Motoman on 2/2/2010 11:37:00 AM , Rating: 2's not rational to expect a vendor to keep supporting an inherently insecure platform like that.

And yes, maybe corporations are still running applications that require IE6 for some reason. They need to do something, at some point - and maybe that would be no longer using Google apps (which they probably don't anyway).

Trying to enforce compatibility with the past is nutty. Sometimes, the past sucked.

RE: It's necessary.
By fic2 on 2/2/2010 12:21:01 PM , Rating: 2
Major company that I do work for is on IE 6 and is now using google apps. I wonder what kind of panic the IT people will be in when they are finally yanked kicking and screaming into this century.

BTW, I use Firefox since I provide my own computer and software.

RE: It's necessary.
By Gungel on 2/2/2010 12:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
It's not just the major companies that are affected. Intuit requires IE6 for most of its older QuickBooks and Quicken Applications to run. A lot of small businesses still run on these older versions. Even the newest version don't support any other browser but IE.

20%? Not so fast
By peldor on 2/2/2010 12:50:19 PM , Rating: 4
20% of internet users may still be using IE6, but I bet it's significantly lower for Google Docs and Google Sites users.

It's not like Google is playing their trump card and cutting off searching with IE6.

By Chiisuchianu on 2/2/2010 6:43:26 PM , Rating: 3
Good news, hopefully this will help destroy IE6 for good. Now if only they would ban IE6 users from then we'd really be getting somewhere!

Should've done that long ago
By bug77 on 2/2/2010 11:33:50 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe GWT will get a lot lighter after this move. One can only hope.

It's Petition Time
By Sunday Ironfoot on 2/2/2010 12:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
There's a petition in the UK to get the government to drop IE6 in government run departments.

By StraightCashHomey on 2/2/2010 1:40:39 PM , Rating: 2's the default version of IE after you install Windows XP, not because it's a popular choice for the end users.

Organizations may not have IT departments, so there aren't any WSUS running, or said organizations don't want to pay money to upgrade their aging, legacy software that does not support anything newer than IE6.

By Griswold on 2/2/2010 1:49:11 PM , Rating: 2
Would be nice if Microsoft did the same. :D

Good news!
By kroker on 2/2/2010 11:44:51 PM , Rating: 2
Internet Explorer 6 was a well-liked browser

You go tell that to a web developer's face! IE 6 has made my life hell! Oh, and it's so frustrating hearing users say "IE 6 is buggy and doesn't support standards? That's bullshit! All the pages I visit work in IE 6!". Yes, exactly, they work, because we spend hours and hours and hours of fixing extremely frustrating IE 6 bugs!!! THAT'S WHY WE HATE IT! Because it's our job to make the pages work!

This is very good news to me, Google is very influential and I think this will speed up the demise of IE 6. Only one question: why just IE 6? IE 7 is almost just as bad!

You know what's sad?
By DLeRium on 2/5/2010 12:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
While we use IE6/IE7 at work, we're allowed to install stuff.

I run FF and Chrome. Some coworkers run FF and a few others run Chrome. We have intranet websites that look like pieces of crap. What's worse is that whoever did the back end programming also put in some script to say that "You're not using IE, proceed at your own risk."

And what's worse is that there's php pages that don't even work with Chrome/FF and work only with IE6. I wonder who designed that. It's not even overly complex IE-only stuff. I see no reason why a login + SQL query requires php code or whatever code that's non web compliant and IE only. It's pretty disgusting.

Hey, those are my grandparents
By Lord 666 on 2/2/2010 11:36:57 AM , Rating: 1
How did they get on DT?

Just kidding, my grandfather was effectively replaced by Macs in the commercial art segment, but saw them as the future in the 80's.

Your numbers are off
By smartalco on 2/2/2010 2:38:52 PM , Rating: 1
IE 6 still has more marketshare than IE 7 (which is sitting around 17%), but less than IE 8 (which is around 25%).

As a web dev, I consider anything and everything that makes IE 6 more useless a giant plus.

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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