Google today announced it is discontinuing support for Internet Explorer 8 in Google Apps, including its Business, Education, and Government editions. The kill date is November 15, 2012. After that, IE8 users accessing Google Apps will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser.

Why that date you may be asking? Well, Internet Explorer 10 launches on October 26 (the day Windows 8 goes on sale), so Google is giving its customers till the middle of the next month to upgrade. The search giant explains:

As we announced last year, we support the latest version of Google Chrome (which automatically updates whenever it detects that a new version of the browser is available) as well as the current and prior major release of Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis. Each time a new version of one of these browsers is released, we begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version.

In August 2011, Google killed support for Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. Now it’s moving on to IE8. If you use an unsupported browser, you’ll have trouble with certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs, and Google Sites, and eventually they apps will just stop working entirely.

Unfortunately, switching to IE9 or IE10 won’t be so easy for many. You see, IE8 is the latest version Windows XP users can install. As a result, the search giant is effectively stopping Windows XP users from using Google Apps with Internet Explorer.

While Windows 7 recently passed Windows XP in terms of market share, Windows XP still held 42.52 percent of the pie last month. That is hundreds of millions of installations, and you can bet most of them are used by businesses, schools, and governments.

So, what does Google recommend for Apps users that need to keep using IE? Google Chrome Frame of course! Here’s what the Apps Administration page says under Supported Browsers:

Organizations that depend on Internet Explorer may want to consider using Google Chrome Frame, which seamlessly brings Google Chrome’s open web technologies and speedy JavaScript engine to Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8. Google Apps supports being accessed via Google Chrome Frame.

Something tells me that businesses (as well as schools and governments) won’t be too happy about this move. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting IE users to upgrade to the latest version, but given the circumstances here, I think Google’s going to get quite a bit of flak for this one.

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