By Alexandra Burlacu | Sep 16, 2012 10:52 AM EDT
Come mid-November, Google will drop support for Microsoft's older Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) for its online suite of apps and services. In other words, Google is ending support for many Windows XP users.
"Internet Explorer 10 launches on 10/26/2012, and as a result, we will discontinue support for Internet Explorer 8 shortly afterwards, on 11/15/2012," the company wrote in a blog post on Friday, Sept. 14. "After this date, users accessing Google Apps services using Internet Explorer 8 will see a message recommending that they upgrade their browser."
"Each time a new version of one of these browsers is released, we begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version," explained the search giant. Consequently, no Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, or Google drive for users of the older browser.
Google had previously dropped IE6 and IE7, the older versions running on XP, leaving IE8 as the newest Microsoft browser that runs on that operating system. For this reason, Google's move to drop IE8 will significantly affect Windows XP users forced by corporate or organization policies to use Internet Explorer. Neither IE9, which launched in March 2011, nor IE 10, which will launch alongside Windows 8 in late October, run on Windows XP.
This, however, is not the first time Google has warned users to upgrade to a more recent browser. The search giant announced in January 2010 that it would no longer support IE 6, Microsoft's 2011 browser, and in July 2011 it announced it would drop IE 7 as well from its list of supported browsers. On the other hand, dropping IE 8 is not the same as dumping IE 7.
When Google announced last year that it would end support for IE7, that browser accounted for just seven percent of all browsers used worldwide, according to data from Web analytics firm Net Applications. Meanwhile, IE8 was the most widely-used browser edition worldwide last month, accounting for a 25 percent usage share. Nearly half of those who ran one version of IE used IE 8 in August.
Moreover, Windows XP itself is approaching its end of life, as Microsoft will provide the last security update for this OS in April 2014. Like Internet Explorer 8, Windows XP is still a major presence, with a 42.5 percent global usage share last month, according to Net Applications. The three-year-old Windows 7 has a 42.8 percent global usage share.
While Microsoft has pledged to support IE8 on Windows 7 until 2020, Google is the first major online software maker to ditch the browser from a support list. In order to run Google Apple, IE8 users, particularly those running Windows XP, will have to use a different browser.