When Google announced yesterday that it was to start phasing out support for Internet Explorer 6, a million web developers will have cheered. Is this the big catalyst the “Kill IE6” campaign needs?
IE6 is a truly hated browser amongst web developers. It’s out of date and doesn’t support many modern web technologies properly. Yet it remains one of the most popular browsers amongst users – mainly thanks to businesses who haven’t upgraded their corporate software suite in years.
So, now that Google is throwing its weight behind the movement to consign IE6 to history, will we finally see it disappearing for good? Don’t count on it.
Google is beginning its phase-out with Docs and Sites. Few businesses will be using Sites (Google’s website hosting solution) and Docs remains a minnow compared to Microsoft Office in the business world. While Google will surely remove IE6 support from other services in time, the main reason many large businesses hold onto the browser is because they have web apps that have been built specifically for use with it. Unless Google blocks the main google.com search page completely from IE6, most businesses will get by just fine with a Google-free web.
It may actually be Microsoft that finally kills off IE6 for good. Many businesses are expected to move over to Windows 7 in the next few years. Windows 7 comes with the latest version of Internet Explorer (or even no browser at all), so businesses are likely to factor in the cost of replacing those legacy IE6-only web apps at the same time as rolling out the new OS across their network.
While it’s encouraging to see Google turning its back on the outdated browser, most businesses will be fine without Google’s services. For now they can always install Google Chrome Frame to allow access to modern technologies. Let’s just hope they do something to avoid this nightmare scenario.
[Image credit: IE6 denial message for Momentile.com]