The official e-mail went out to Google Apps administrators this week: As of August 1, Google will only support modern browsers across Google Apps. For Internet Explorer 7, Safari 3 and Firefox 3.5, this means the end of the line.
The move is reminiscent of one made in February in which Google dropped IE 6 support. Companies like Atlassian and Salesforce.com followed suit, the latter claiming the following in a mass e-mail:
“Multiple security vulnerabilities in IE6 have been exploited over the years. The most recent attacks against Google, Yahoo, and other companies specifically targeted vulnerabilities easily accessible in IE6 but much more difficult to exploit in IE7 and IE8—leading the Microsoft Security Response Centre to recommend that users of IE6 upgrade to a newer version of Internet Explorer.
And, the kicker:
“Of all of our supported browsers, IE6 provides the slowest and least rewarding user experience for our customers.”
Blossoming Love for HTML 5
For Google, the reason behind the cuts this time around goes like this: "To give users the best experience with Google Apps
, we need the capabilities of modern browsers to deliver features such as desktop notifications for Gmail and drag-and-drop file upload in Google Docs
In other words, HTML 5
is needed for these little perks, and older browsers just aren't able to bright this to the table. Of course, not everyone agrees that cycling them out entirely is the way to go.
“Google Apps is a closed web application that you must register for,” pointed out Aaron Gustafson, Easy Readers co-founder. “For that type of product, supporting really old browsers while simultaneously trying to innovate is a financially risky move. At this point, we're already talking about Firefox 6 and Internet Explorer 10, so sunsetting IE7 and Firefox 3.5 seems like a no-brainer.”
On the other side of the fence sits designer Aral Balkan, who argues that designers should start being even more aggressive, claiming version numbers are meaningless when considering rapidly evolving web standards: “The web doesn't have version numbers. It is fundamentally incompatible with the concept. It is the now."
In order to stay hip with the times, Google says it will continue to support the current and prior major releases of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis. This means that each time a new version is released, Big G will support the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version.
Expect more work for IT admins, as they will have to make sure that each employee is using the most up to date version of the accepted browsers. For a big company, that can certainly be a bit burdensome.