June 03, 2011, 7:03 AM — Google will drop support for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) and Mozilla's Firefox 3.5 browsers for its online apps, including Gmail and Docs.
"Beginning August 1, we'll support the current and prior major release of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis," said Venkat Panchapakesan, who heads Google's enterprise engineering team, in a company blog Wednesday. "Each time a new version is released, we'll begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version."
IE7, for example, has been superseded by IE8 and IE9; the same goes for Firefox 3.5, which has been replaced by Firefox 3.6 and Firefox 4.
After Aug. 1, users running those browsers may have trouble with some features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites. At some point, those apps may stop working entirely.
"For Web applications to spring even farther ahead of traditional software, our teams need to make use of new capabilities available in modern browsers," said Panchapakesan. "Older browsers just don't have the chops to provide you with the same high-quality experience."
Panchapakesan didn't mention Opera Software's Opera browser in his blog, an omission that prompted many users to leave comments.
"Lack of support for a browser as standards-compliant as Opera is absurd," complained someone identified as "Isildur."
Opera accounts for approximately 2% of all browsers, according to Web measurement company Net Applications, less than one-sixth the share of Chrome and less than one-third that of Safari.
The numerous "where's Opera"-style comments prompted one wag to say, " Wow, every existing Opera user left a comment here."
By Net Applications' statistics, the browsers Google will retire represent a minority of those in use.
Last month, IE7 accounted for 7% of all the browsers used worldwide, said Net Applications on Tuesday. Firefox 3.5 owned an even-smaller share of 1.4%, while Safari 3 accounted for only 0.1%. Altogether, the browsers destined for the dustbin controlled less than 9% of the browser market.