Congratulations to Google for deciding to drop support for old browsers. The web cannot bloom without some pruning of dead wood every now and then. In a recent e-mail to Google App admins, Google announced they are withdrawing support for browsers prior to Internet Explorer 7.0, Firefox 3.0, Chrome 4.0, and Safari 3.0.
IE 6 was released nearly nine years ago in August of 2001. With how dramatically things have changed on the web in the past nine years, it is hard to believe there are still folks who do still support it. How long after a new product is released should an old product be maintained by the creators and supported by third-parties? An equally important question, in my opinion, is how long should software dependent on old technologies be maintained before getting an overhaul. Technical debt grows exponentially as the years go on, and it quickly becomes harder and less cost-effective to maintain old software than it would be to start over and do things the right way based on current standards and practices. Read on to view the e-mail from Google.
Dear Google Apps admin,
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.
In 2009, the Google Apps team delivered more than 100 improvements to enhance your product experience. We are aiming to beat that in 2010 and continue to deliver the best and most innovative collaboration products for businesses.
Thank you for your continued support!
The Google Apps team