Web companies like Google, WordPress or Facebook are suddenly realizing that old web browsers may have a serious impact on the support they offer. While everyone applauds the companies for dropping support for Internet Explorer 6, the feelings may be mixed when it comes to Google's announcement to discontinue support for additional browsers.
According to the official Gmail Blog, Google will drop support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7 and Safari 3. Dropping support does not mean that users will be blocked from using Google services, but it does mean that Google may develop and implement features that no longer work in those browsers.
To put it in plain words: When Google develops new features and services, the company will not test them using the browsers they dropped support for.
Support will be dropped on August 1, and Google notes that "may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites" from that day on, and that users may notice eventually that "these apps may stop working entirely".
From August 1 on, Google will only support modern browsers. For them, that is Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, and only the two newest versions of each browser will be supported. When Firefox 5 comes out, support will be dropped for Firefox 3.6, with Firefox 6 support for Firefox 4 will be dropped and so on.
Most features will continue to work in dropped browser versions for a long time to come. Chance is, users will be able to use those browsers indefinitely. Only features that require new technologies like HTML5 may not work in those browsers, drag and drop file uploading or desktop notifications come to mind.
No mentioning of Opera anywhere in the announcement, it is as usual ignored by Google.
What's your take on this? Is this the right step to force users to update their browsers more frequently?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.