In a gift to Web designers and website publishers everywhere, Google announced Friday that it was dropping support for old (and now-outdated) versions of the four biggest browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla-based Firefox, Apple’s Safari, and Google’s own Chrome. Citing the need to implement new features based on HTML 5, the company said it will stop supporting those older browsers as of August 1st in its Google Apps services.
In a blog post, the company wrote “As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely.”
This is a big gift to designers and publishers everywhere, because Google’s clout will be a great excuse for them (including companies like The Mac Observer, Inc.) to stop worry about these older browsers, too. The removal of several generations of older browsers from the list of those browsers means lower development and support costs, but will also give a boost to general progress in website features.
This is also good for Internet security as a whole because many of these older browsers are no longer supported by their own makers, and have not been patched with the latest and greatest security patches. Accelerating their disappearance will be good for everyone.
On the other hand, users with older computers that can’t support newer versions of these browsers will be left behind. This may only be restricted to Google Apps for now, but it will not take long for the majority of professionally produced websites and other Web content to follow Google’s lead and cease supporting those browsers, too.
Be that as it may, the vast majority of computer hardware that has been sold in the last 4-5 years (and maybe longer) will support browser versions newer than the generations being left behind, so if you can, upgrade yours today.
In the meanwhile, we offer thanks to Google for kicking off this process.