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Google to Start Phasing Out Internet Explorer 6 Support in March

Posted Feb 4, 2010 4:17 PM CDT
By Richard Acello

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Attorneys may not give much thought to the version of Web browser they’re using, but Net giant Google says it will phase out support of the still widely used Internet Explorer 6 browser.

According to Microsoft spokesman Ryan Bartholomew, version 6 is the default browser shipped with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, and it was also made available for Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows 2000. That version has been criticized in some publications for security issues and lack of support for modern Web standards.

Windows Internet Explorer 7 was released in late 2006, and the most recent version available is Windows Internet Explorer 8.

If users are running the XP operating system, which has become even more popular with advent of XP-powered netbooks, they may run the risk of not being able to access files parked in applications such as Google Docs, Google Sites or Google Mail.

“We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010,” says an e-mail sent by Google to webmasters on Tuesday. “After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency [slower response time] and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar. Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 [Apple’s browser] and above.”

An analysis of ABAJournal.com visits indicates there may still be a large number of lawyers using IE6. In 2009, 72 percent of all ABAJournal.com visitors accessed the site from an Internet Explorer browser. Of those, more than 35 percent were still using version 6. Since the first of the year, that percentage has dropped to 22.

Google spokesman Andrew Kovacs denied the move was related to recent cyberattacks against Google. “This was not done for security reasons,” says Kovacs. “It is being done so we can continue using the latest Web technologies to bring new, innovative features to our users.”

Microsoft is urging IE6 users to update their browsers, but it acknowledges larger enterprises may lag in making the switch.

“While we recommend Internet Explorer 8 to all customers,” Bartholomew says, “we understand we have a number of corporate customers for whom broad deployment of new technologies across their desktops requires more planning.”

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