Google must have found it pretty liberating to give IE6 the “it’s not you, it’s me” talk last year, because three other browsers are about to get the same treatment. The company has updated its Enterprise Blog with news that, starting on August 1, 2011, it will discontinue support for Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.5, and Safari 3 across its Google Apps suite.
At first, users running these browsers may not be able to work certain features in web apps like Gmail and Google Docs. Eventually, though, Google says some of those apps “may stop working entirely.”
Dumping IE7 so soon seems fairly radical. IE6 was close to nine years old by the time Google stopped supporting it, but IE7 hasn’t even celebrated its fifth birthday yet. The two legacy browsers command a 17% combined market share, according to Net Applications. Nevertheless, Google just doesn’t want old browsers dragging down its development efforts:
For web applications to spring even farther ahead of traditional software, our teams need to make use of new capabilities available in modern browsers. For example, desktop notifications for Gmail and drag-and-drop file upload in Google Docs require advanced browsers that support HTML5. Older browsers just don’t have the chops to provide you with the same high-quality experience.
As TR’s token CSS monkey, I’m glad Google is doing its part to retire older browsers. Not having to fire up a virtual machine to test workarounds for IE7 would save me a fair amount of time. Plus, let’s face it: downloading and installing a browser update isn’t exactly difficult, and newer browsers offer undeniable performance and security benefits.