With the arrival of Internet Explorer 11 accompanying the Windows 8.1 release, and the new availability of the browser for Windows 7 users, Google Apps has announced that it will soon be shutting down support for IE9. Users will be notified shortly that they need to upgrade to more recent browsers in order to maintain compatibility.
This move is in line with previous Google Apps policy in providing support for the browsers of the major competitors’ two most recent versions. The rival browsers involve Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. In general, support for the older browsers has ended around a month after each new release, making this change true to their customary timetable.
Users accessing Gmail and other Google Apps services from older unsupported browsers will be notified via an in-product notification message or an interstitial page. Information will also be provided about methods of upgrading.
Nevertheless, considering that there are still around 420 million users running IE9, and a large number of them accessing some of Goole Apps, the move seems a little surprising. Using StatCounter’s figures, the number of users equates to six per cent of the 7.1 billion internet inhabitants. This is almost double the number for Safari 5.0 and 6.0. Another unexpected statistic shows that although it has not been supported since late 2012, there are currently more users of IE 8 than IE9.
In the final analysis though, Google undeniably knows best about web stats and its customer base. There is no question that they would extend support for the third oldest versions of the browsers if there were enough users to justify the decision. They are probably safe in the assumption that most apps users have either switched to Chrome or upgraded to IE 10 or 11 at this stage.
There is no need for panic just yet, as IE9 and the older versions of Firefox and Safari will still be able to access the services, but the lack of support down the track may be troublesome. IE 9 users need not feel slighted; they should take heart from the fact that Google supports just the one version of Chrome. Still, this is not really an issue with Apps, as Chrome auto updates with each new version.