Google Apps pulls plug on IE 8: Windows XP left out in the cold

Windows XP users are left in browser purgatory as Google Apps shutters support for Internet Explorer 8. The message is simple: change your browser, or upgrade Windows.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

Google said today it will soon no longer support Internet Explorer 8 for its outsourced, cloud-based enterprise email and collaboration platform, Google Apps.

The search giant is pulling the plug on the browser's life support on November 15, a fortnight after Windows 8 and the latest bundled version of Internet Explorer 10 is shipped to stores worldwide, Google said in a blog post announcing the move.

That means no Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, and certainly no Google Drive for users of the older browser.  

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The search giant said that, "each time a new version of one of these browsers is released, we begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version," ergo Internet Explorer 8 is up for the chop.

But the knock-on effect means that Windows XP users will be severely affected. Internet Explorer 9 cannot be installed on Windows XP -- only rival browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Because many legacy Web apps still require Internet Explorer 6 to run, users of the ageing operating system are being sent a clear message: get out of the old and in with the new.

(No need to chastise: I'm sure IT departments are fully aware that Windows XP is so close to end-of-life and "should upgrade," but it's just not financially viable in many cases.) 

In doing so, it's forcing colleges and schools, businesses and even government departments who use Google Apps, and still rely on Windows XP for legacy applications, between a rock and a hard place.

While Windows XP is more than a decade old, it's still used by 42 percent of the worldwide market, according to Net Applications. Its successor Windows 7 overtook Windows XP in August. That said, there are more users of Internet Explorer 8 than any other version of the Windows browser according to the figures.

Google's move to phase-out browser support by far not a new push to keep in complaince with newer browsers, however. Google started this practice of dropping support for the third-oldest browser in the development chain in summer 2011.

Who's likely to benefit out of this? Microsoft, of all companies -- Google's main competitor in the outsourced communications space -- by giving a boost to Windows 7 sales, seen by many as safe middle-ground between Windows Vista and the forthcoming game-changing Windows 8. 

Image source: Google, ZDNet.

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