Microsoft’s new Internet Explorer 10 web browser is set to arrive Oct. 26. Shortly thereafter, on Nov. 15, Google Apps will no longer support IE 8. The move will make Google one of the first major companies to drop support for Microsoft’s 3-year-old browser.
That doesn’t mean that Google Apps sites will suddenly stop working in IE 8 — users will see a message suggesting they upgrade to a newer release — but don’t expect things to keep working in the long run.
The end of IE 8 support isn’t a change from the normal Google Apps browser policy — which is to support the two most recent versions of each browser — but unlike dumping support for IE 6 and 7, dumping IE 8 effectively means Google Apps no longer supports Internet Explorer on Windows XP.
The problem for XP users — which, according to NetMarketShare still comprise roughly 39 percent of Windows users worldwide — is that upgrading to IE 9 also requires upgrading to a newer OS release.
Microsoft never released a version of IE 9 for Windows XP, so the only real upgrade path for those that want to stick with Windows XP (and continue using Google Apps) is either to install a different web browser or use Google Chrome Frame.
There is of course one other option — dump Google Apps. Google, however, doesn’t seem worried that Windows XP users are going to abandon Google Apps in droves.