Google drives a stake in Internet Explorer 6’s coffin

It’s no secret that I’m among a (likely overwhelming) majority of web designers and developers who want nothing more (well, probably) than to eradicate every last copy of Internet Explorer 6 still in use worldwide. I’ve said it all before (hence the “2009” on the mocked up tombstone). IE6 is a bane to our industry and it degrades its users’ experience of the Internet in ways they don’t even realize.

Fortunately, the 800-pound gorillas of the Internet — companies like Google (and their subsidiary, YouTube) and Facebook — are taking action, at long last cutting their support for this antiquated browser. Yesterday Google sent this notice out to all Google Apps users with administrative access:

Dear Google Apps admin,

In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology. This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5. As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

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

I have never been so delighted to receive a mass email message before. I think a key phrase in there, so subtle you might miss its full meaning, is this: “as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.”

Technically Microsoft does still support IE6, reluctantly, and will continue to do so until 2014. But, there’s support, and then there’s support. In “supporting” IE6, Microsoft pledges to make a concerted effort to keep IE6 patched against its most egregious security holes (as they’re discovered, and hopefully before they’re widely exploited), but Microsoft doesn’t really support using IE6, if you catch my drift. They are pretty much pleading with users to upgrade, going so far as to pledge charitable donations on behalf of users who upgrade.

So, yes, you are literally doing the world a favor by abandoning IE6.