Google drops apps support for IE 8, stranding XPers

Last week Google announced it was discontinuing Internet Explorer 8 support for Google Apps and Google Apps for Business, Education and Government. Google’s practice is that when a new browser version is released, it upgrades support for the newest version and drops support for the third oldest version.

That means that when IE 10 is released on Oct. 26, 2012, Google will stop support for IE 8 on Nov. 15. After this date, Google says, “users accessing Google Apps services using Internet Explorer 8 will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser.”

While many users appreciate the ability to leverage the new capabilities that newer browsers support, users in government and education might have a problem.

According to TheNextWeb, IE8 is the latest version of Explorer that can be installed on XP machines, and XP machines make up 23 percent of the U.S. market, which translates into hundreds of millions of installations, most of which are used by businesses, schools and governments. Consequently, “the search giant is effectively stopping Windows XP users from using Google Apps with Internet Explorer,” TNW writes.

And to make matters worse, neither IE9 nor IE10, which will debut alongside Windows 8 in late October, runs on Windows XP, according to Computerworld’s Gregg Keiser. Affected applications might include Gmail and Google Calendar, Keiser added.

While Microsoft's support for both Windows XP and Office 2003 will end in April 2014, the company  has committed to supporting IE8 on Windows 7 until 2020, Keiser added. Google is the first major online software maker to drop 2009's IE8 from a support list.

There’s a lively discussion about the issue on  Slashdot, where some think “this is Google's way to get sysadmins comfortable with Chrome in the workplace,” and others who think Google is making a mistake because IE 8 is still so new that large enterprises are spending tens of millions upgrading from IE 6.

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