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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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RE: Microsoft's mistake costs everyone else
By omnicronx on 2/2/2010 12:33:09 PM , Rating: -1
You are not making any sense here.. When IE6 was most dominant (i.e when most of these legacy systems you speak of were implemented) IE6 WAS the standard..

As other browsers have progressed and IE as is no longer the defacto browser I would tend to agree with your standards statement (i.e it is well known that IE7/8 do not adhear to all web standards as it should).

I guess you've also never worked in any business environment, as you make the claim as though it is an easy thing to replace in house legacy systems. The cost, let alone the time effort and the conversion process between the two is not an easy task.


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
quote:
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
ActiveX


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.


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