File Under: Software & Tools

Google Teams With Microsoft On IE6 Gmail

IE6 loves GmailIt’s great to see these two giants get along, isn’t it? When not firing antitrust accusations at each other, the two found time to improve the ancient Internet Explorer 6. Google helped Microsoft identify JavaScript performance issues that was holding the browser back from running the latest and greatest Gmail features.

Among the features IE6 Gmailers can now access:

Some see this as unnecessary support of old technology. There is a movement afoot in the web developer scene to ignore IE6. At the end of September, designer darlings 37 Signals will phase out IE6. Is this a sign that soon we will not have to spend precious hours supporting a browser that can barely deal with today’s internet?

Google’s products are mass market. It cannot afford to completely ignore a browser with as much market share as IE6 — according to one recent study, its share is still around 25 percent. What Google did is a little different. Because it’s a giant company with a lot of pull, it had Microsoft make the changes. Gmail engineers did not have to make a bunch of IE6-specific code tweaks. Instead, the tweaks are in IE6 itself.

One would assume these performance changes could benefit other applications as well, so this move is a boon for all. Of course, the fixes require users to install an update. The same group that has been ignoring the calls to upgrade to IE7 may ignore this request, too.

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