Google has moved to drop support for Microsoft’s much maligned Internet Explorer 6, which is very much the bad penny of the Internet Explorer line, simply refusing to give up the ghost (and causing bloggers to mix metaphors cocktail-style).
Given the recent security debate sparked by Google’s suffering of a large-scale attack in China, the spotlight has fallen on Internet Explorer as, to use Microsoft’s term, “one of the vectors” by which the attack was executed. While Microsoft, and others, have been quick to point out that more recent incarnations of IE are plenty secure, it’s IE6 that continues to take a beating.
Google’s move will see support for Microsoft’s aging browser phased out gradually. Apparently, from the first of March, we’ll see Google Docs and Google Sites recommend that users upgrade their browsers, rather than continuing to support IE6. Google announced the move in a post on its official blog, saying that,
“Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers…”
Of course, the fact is that there’ll be relatively few home users running IE6, with most following at a fairly relaxed pace the general upgrade path towards IE8. Unfortunately, there are plenty of businesses for whom IE6 is simply the norm, places in which a wide-scale move to adopt a more recent version of the browser would be costly. Given the state of the economy at the moment, costs incurred by upgrading web browsers seem to be fairly low on people’s lists… despite the various security risks incurred.
Still, Microsoft’s response to the campaign against IE6 has been a mixed one. While Microsoft’s own general manager for Internet Explorer, Amy Barzdukas made herself very clear indeed when she said, “Friends do not let friends use IE6,” the fact that Microsoft is to continue supporting the browser until 2014, which should leave web-developers pulling their hair out for another four years or so…
With any luck the world will just end in 2012 and we’ll get away without the extra two years of IE6 though.