Tag Archives: IE6

Google Docs, Sites Dropping IE 6 Support

Web developers have been urging Internet users to abandon Internet Explorer 6 for years. Now Google has decided to join the cause.

The company on Friday warned users of Google Apps and Google Sites that it will begin phasing out support for older browsers in about one month.

“Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers,” explained Google Apps senior product manager in a blog post. “We’re also going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites on March 1st.”

The ostensible reason for doing so is that older browsers like Internet Explorer 6 can’t render modern HTML elements properly, a problem that can hinder the functioning of modern Web applications.

In place of Internet Explorer 6, Google suggests using Microsoft Internet Explorer 7+, Mozilla Firefox 3+, Apple Safari 3+, or Google Chrome 4+.

Another problem with older browsers is that they tend to be less secure. When cybercriminals in China attacked Google and some 33 other companies last month, they relied on a vulnerability in Internet Explorer 6 to compromise computers.

A Google spokesperson insists that the two events are unrelated and that Google had planned to discontinue Internet Explorer 6 support before the attacks were detected. “It’s really is being done so we can continue using the latest Web technologies to bring new features to our users,” he said.

Even so, the exploitation of an Internet Explorer 6 vulnerability in the attack on Google prompted the governments of France, Germany, and Australia to urge their Internet using citizens to consider an alternate Web browser. Those warnings have led hundreds of thousands of Internet Explorer 6 users to download Firefox.

According to NetApplications, Internet Explorer 6 is still the most popular browser in the world, with a global market share last month of 20.99%. But Internet Explorer 8 is close behind, with 20.85% global market share in December. In third place, Firefox 3.5 had market share of 16.32%, less than a percentage point more than Internet Explorer 7.

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Stop Using IE6

You claim your company has too many mission-critical intranet apps that depend on IE6 peculiarities, or that it’s just too expensive to upgrade users to another browser. Well the rest of the world is tired of having to deal with your broken and insecure infrastructure. Upgrade now.

Browser statistics are not totally consistent, but are sad no matter which ones you look at. Somewhere between about 10 and 20 percent of Internet users are saddled with the miserable Internet Explorer 6 browser that was first released in August, 2001.

Although it’s had nearly a decade of security patches applied to its now-weathered surface, IE6 doesn’t have any more features or web standards compliance than it did when it shipped in 2001. Those of you who are using IE6, think about that for a moment. Nearly any corporate worker turns to their browser dozens of times a day, doing work that’s important to the company. Is there any other tool they have that hasn’t been updated since 2001? If you don’t see a problem with that, let’s take away your BlackBerry or iPhone and replace it with a Motorola V200 Personal Communicator. After all, that baby was state of the art in 2001. If it did the job then, it’s fine for 2010, right?

Of course that’s crazy. Mobile devices have made incredible progress in the past nine years, and they have features we couldn’t have dreamed of back then. Browsers have made the same progress, too, and by using IE6 you’re holding back your users and your company. Worst of all you’re holding back the industry. Until IE6 usage drops below something like 5 percent of all users, web developers will be forced to accommodate it. That limits the features that developers can put into web-based products, and increases development time as they try to deal with a browser that should have died years ago.

Don’t care which browser you upgrade to when you drop IE6. Stay with Microsoft and use IE8, or switch to Firefox, Chrome, or Opera if you’d like. Just make the switch, now. Only then can our long Internet nightmare can finally be over.