February 01, 2010, 11:33 AM — Google has announced that Google Docs will drop support for Microsoft's nearly nine-year-old Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) browser starting on March 1.
Ironically, if Google had taken its anti-IE6 advice to heart before hackers broke into its corporate network last year, it might not now be mulling whether to abandon the Chinese search market.
"We're going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites," said Rajen Sheth, senior product manager for Google Apps, in a Friday entry on the company's enterprise blog . "As a result, 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." Google Sites is the search engine's free Web hosting service.
Google's new list of supported browsers omits IE6, as well as other older programs, including Mozilla's Firefox 2.0, Apple 's Safari 2.0 and Google's own Chrome 3.0. IE6 is by far the oldest browser of the bunch, with an August 2001 debut. In comparison, Firefox 2.0 dates to October 2006, Safari 2.0 to April 2005 and Chrome 3.0 to September 2009.
People running older browsers should upgrade to a newer version, said Sheth, who posted links to downloads of IE8, Firefox 3.6, Safari 4.0 and Chrome 4.0. The latter is available in final form only for Windows ; Chrome 4.0 for the Mac is still in beta .
Google's move is only the latest in a year-long string of major Web properties dropping support for IE6 or urging users to ditch it for something newer. The campaign began in February 2009, when Facebook prompted IE6 users to upgrade. It then accelerated last summer when Google's YouTube did the same, as Digg announced it would curtail IE6 support and as a California site builder led nearly 40 Web start-ups to urge their users to dump the browser . An "IE Must Die" petition on Twitter, meanwhile, has accumulated more than 14,000 signatures.