This has not been the greatest start to the year for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser. Days after news of the latest security flaw in Internet Explorer, Google is adding fuel to the fire by phasing out support for IE6 for two of its Google Apps products, Docs and Sites (which recently got an aesthetic upgrade).
For both the consumer and enterprise versions of Google Docs and Sites, the only browsers that will be fully compatible are Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0+, Mozilla Firefox 3.0+, Google Chrome 4.0+ and Safari 3.0+. The phase out will take place beginning March 1. While you’ll still be able to access Docs and Sites from IE6, you will have restricted functionality and many features won’t work, making the applications for the most part useless. We hear that Google will be phasing out IE6 support for the remainder of Google’s major products, including Gmail and Calendar, over the coming year. This isn’t Google’s first move to phases out IE6 functionality for its products. Last July, the search giant began phasing out YouTube support for the Microsoft browser. For users of IE6, the online video site began pointing to ‘modern’ browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3.5 as alternatives. A similar prompt will now take place on Docs and Sites for users who are browsing from IE6.
For the most part, the tech community, including web developers and designers, tend to have a profound dislike of Internet Explorer 6. Obviously, the browse has many issues, including low performance and major security flaws. Even Microsoft itself, is recommending that all its customers upgrade to Internet Explorer 8, the latest version of the browser which has better security in place. The main reason why IE6 is still being used at all is because of corporate IT departments across the globe needing to make upgrade decisions. Unfortunately, a number of these companies still have to use the browser because they have systems in place built specifically to run with it. To add insult to injury, IE6 continues to lose market share in the browser world.
And Google isn’t the only technology company that is looking to close off support for IE6. Digg has hinted at wanting to cut support for the browser too. I have a feeling that as Google joins the web in gathering pitchforks around IE6, more companies will flock to join the movement.