In a post to the Google Docs blog, Venkat Panchapakesan, vice president of engineering at Google, says that the company will be culling the list of browsers Google Apps will support come Aug. 1. On the chopping block: Firefox 3.5, Safari 3, Internet Explorer 7, and all earlier versions of those browsers.
While the elimination of support for Firefox 3.5 and earlier and Safari 3 and earlier won't affect many users, the latest figures from NetMarketShare show that IE7 is still pulling 7 percent of the browser market. Beyond that, IE6, which Google dropped support for last year, is still claiming a healthy 10.36 percent, second only to IE8. All told, Google is eliminating support to 17.4 percent of the browser market merely by cutting off IE7 and below.
It'd be tempting to view this as a move by Google to slap at its rival Microsoft, but the announcement makes no pitch for users to switch to Google's Chrome browser. Rather, it asks users to "get the latest version of [their] favorite browser."
Instead, the announcement emphasizes the importance of the security and compatibility fixes offered in newer browsers, and for that, Google deserves some kudos. As the use of Web apps continues to grow, so too do the security and compatibility issues that Web apps bring, and using old browser versions exacerbates those vulnerabilities. It may be frustrating for some users to have to upgrade, but it's a good thing for Web app providers to force a browser upgrade now and then, if only to keep users from suffering a security breach and to be able to leverage the best new technologies.
This article, "Google Apps to cut off support to older browsers," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.