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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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