Google Apps users who are still using Microsoft's older Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) browser won't be able to continue to use Google services starting Nov. 15 until they upgrade to a newer browser.
Google detailed the move in a Sept. 14 post on the Google Apps Blog as part of its continuing strategy to keep its products up to date and working seamlessly with the latest evolving features in newer Web browsers.
"As we announced last year, we support the latest version of Google Chrome (which automatically updates whenever it detects that a new version of the browser is available) as well as the current and prior major release of Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis," Google officials said in the post. "Each time a new version of one of these browsers is released, we begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version."
Because Microsoft previously announced that its newest Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) browser will debut Oct. 26, Google will drop support of the older IE8 version Nov. 15, according to the post. "After this date users accessing Google Apps services using Internet Explorer 8 will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser."
The current IE9 version of the browser will be supported by Google Apps until a future IE11 is released.
The changes will affect users of Google Apps and Google Apps for Business, Education and Government, according to Google.
The Google Apps policy of supporting only the latest browsers began in June 2011 as big changes were beginning to arrive from new Web standards, such as HTML5.
"For Web applications to spring even farther ahead of traditional software, our teams need to make use of new capabilities available in modern browsers," Venkat Panchapakesan, Google's vice president of engineering, wrote in a Gmail Blog post at that time. "For example, desktop notifications for Gmail and drag-and-drop file upload in Google Docs require advanced browsers that support HTML5. Older browsers just don't have the chops to provide you with the same high-quality experience."
The new changes mean that users who are still running older browsers and even older computer operating systems will have to make decisions on what to do if they want to continue to use Google Apps.
For users who are still running Windows XP machines, IE8 is the last of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browsers that will run on the soon-to-be-retired operating system. IE9 and the upcoming IE10 weren't built to operate on XP.
That means that XP users-and there are still plenty of them out there-will have to upgrade their operating systems if they want to keep using Google Apps.
Windows XP SP3 will no longer be supported in any way by Microsoft starting April 8, 2014, according to Microsoft. As of that date, there will be no new Windows XP security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates.
When Google Apps dropped support for a myriad of older browsers such as Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7 and Safari 3 in August of 2011, users were told by Google that they "may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely."