As expected, Google today declared that it has ended support for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) browser for its own Google Apps.
"Each time a new version of [a supported browser] is released, we begin supporting the update and stop supporting the third-oldest version," Google said in a post to the Google Apps blog.
Google regularly warns customers when it has dropped a version of IE from the support list, so today's announcement was not out of the blue. In September 2012, Google said the same of IE8, and in 2011, of IE7, as Microsoft readied new versions.
Microsoft launched IE11 last month for Windows 8.1 as part of that free update to Windows 8. While it has yet to ship IE11 for Windows 7, it will likely do so this month, based on the release three weeks ago of a blocking toolkit for the browser.
"Google's test plans have been adjusted to now stop all testing and engineering work related to Internet Explorer 9," the company said today.
As is its practice, Google will also begin warning users of Gmail and other services that it has dropped IE9 through messages urging them to upgrade.
Google's policy is to support only the current version of a browser, and its immediate predecessor. Its ditch-IE9 move was the first by a major online service provider.
Older, unsupported browsers can still be used to connect to Google Apps and other of its services, but some features may be off-limits or limited, and at some point the apps may stop working entirely in IE9.
On a support page dedicated to its browser support policy, for example, Google noted that its Calendar app displays in read-only mode under IE8. In the same document, Google encouraged users that rely on older versions of IE to "consider a dual browser strategy."
The end-of-support plan for Google Apps will not disrupt access to Google's search site via older browsers, including IE9.
Google does not have a corresponding policy for operating systems. In fact, Google recently poked at Microsoft when it said it would continue to support Windows XP with its own Chrome browser for at least a year after Microsoft stops patching IE8 on the aged OS this coming April.
Microsoft launched IE9 in March 2011. The browser runs on Windows Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft will continue to support IE9 on those platforms until 2017 and 2020, respectively.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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