Google to drop Internet Explorer 6 support in March

Have any web designers around you broken into spontaneous song and dance? The latest post on Google's Enterprise Blog may be responsible. In it, the search giant has announced that it will start dropping support for Internet Explorer 6.0 as of March 1, 2010.

The change will begin with Google Docs and Google Sites, and it will force IE6 users to upgrade. "You may find that from March 1 key functionality within these products -- as well as new Docs and Sites features -- won’t work properly in older browsers," the blog post warns. Users are encouraged either to step up to a newer version of Microsoft's browser or to ditch IE entirely and start using Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Apple's Safari.

According to the latest Net Applications figures, IE6 still commands about 20% of the market, down from almost 33% a year ago. That tenacity might seem impressive for a browser that came out in August 2001, but web designers and developers are generally less impressed. IE6 has broken support for many older web standards and is missing support for newer ones, so maintaining compatibility with it often leads to headaches. Many sites, including TR, have to resort to IE6-specific workarounds and JavaScript hacks, as a result.

Broken Google pages could be a strong incentive for remaining IE6 users to upgrade. Of course, that doesn't account for folks forced to use the browser in enterprise environments, where it might have survived to maintain compatibility with old intranet apps. In such cases, IT managers might be the next ones to suffer IE6-induced headaches. (Thanks to TechEye for the heads up.)

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