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Google yanks IE6 love from web apps

Do as we say, not as we did

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Google is pulling IE6 support from Google Apps, its online suite of office applications.

On Friday, with a post to the official Google enterprise blog, the search giant cum world power announced that it will yank IE6 support from both Google Docs and its Google Sites wiki service on March 1.

"The web has evolved in the last ten years, from simple text pages to rich, interactive applications including video and voice," Google said. "Unfortunately, very old browsers cannot run many of these new features effectively. So to help ensure your business can use the latest, most advanced web apps, we encourage you to update your browsers as soon as possible."

The announcement came two weeks after Google told the world that December cyber-attacks originating from China pilfered unspecified intellectual property from the company. Microsoft later admitted that the attacks - which targeted as many as 33 other companies - exploited a then un-patched flaw in Internet Explorer 6.

Yes, this means Google employees were running IE6 - the eight-year-old security-challenged browser that refuses to die. Google now offers its own web browser, Chrome, but it seems even Googlers couldn't shake the habit of using the Microsoft browser that achieved near ubiquity on the back of Redmond's Windows XP operating system.

According to the latest numbers from research outfit Net Applications, Internet Explorer 6 is still used by roughly 20 per cent of all netizens.

With its blog post, Mountain View also said that Google Docs and Sites will soon jettison support for other aging browsers. As of March 1, Docs and Sites will only support Internet Explorer 7 or later, Chrome 4.0 or later, Firefox 3.0 or later, or Safari 3.0 or later. "Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers," the company wrote.

"We’re also going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites. As a result you may find that from March 1 key functionality within these products - as well as new Docs and Sites features - won’t work properly in older browsers."

According to security researchers, the December cyber attacks outed by Google exploited Internet Explorer 6 specifically. Researchers have since demonstrated proof-of-concept attacks on IE7 and IE8 that used the same vulnerability, but this sort of thing was not used in the sweeping attacks on Google and 33 other outfits. Microsoft has since fixed the vuln with an emergency IE patch. ®

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