Leave the weak behind
The Google Apps team has had enough and has put a hit out on IE8. Even before IE 10 was released Google vowed to continue to only support the latest two versions of IE. We all know that auto updating is the way to go and those who complain, lookin’ at you Enterprise IT, can stick it where the sun don’t shine. The enterprise moves even slower than Microsoft and we can’t have that.
Microsoft’s weak spot has always been the web and their seeming reluctance to innovate, to stay ahead, has now started to be a problem for everybody in this post-pc world. As karma dictates it’s Microsoft itself suffers the most from this neglect, they need the web now more than ever. The mobile web/world is moving forward at a staggering pace and it’s making Microsoft look bad. Windows 8 is here but can we move on?
It’s the enterprise stupid
The problem, however, isn’t Microsoft alone, it’s also the ‘enterprise’ and the way their IT departments have their systems structured. Each piece of software ’needs’ to be certified within their own environment so they can reliably and securely support it. Browsers in the past weren’t very stable so the argument for the certification approach made some sense. However, these days browsers are very consistent, have a reliable baseline and have been through a huge amount of regression testing so features old and new won’t break anything. This allows browser vendors to automatically update your browser so that you, the user, don’t have to explicitly update manually. Apple sends out regular updates but doesn’t install them automatically however, Apple only allows users to opt out of individual updates and the only to remove an item from the update list is to install it. Users tend to update. Mozilla and Google avoid such shenanigans and auto update their browsers and relieve the user of opting out and being left behind. Auto updating, clearly, is here to stay. Enterprise IT will have no other choice then to face this reality. Forcing IE8 is a natural consequence of auto updating and has the added benefit that it puts Microsoft in a bad light with Enterprise end users. Google wins by demonstrating that Microsoft no longer matters and in way it’s true.
Meanwhile, back in the real world
IE7’s presence is small but still large enough to warrant significant amount of development time to supported it. Microsoft hasn’t done anything to allow for quick upgrade cycles and is now stuck in the past. Microsoft has with each IE release not been able to make updating IE a fixed part of their regular patch updates. You had to opt in to have the latest version and Enterprise could configure their update schemes to skip IE updates. Users don’t like change, Enterprise hates it. Google may show us the way forward however most Windows users are not going anywhere. Google has only one option to break the deadlock and that is to replace Windows as the default OS with their own Chrome OS. That, so far, isn’t panning out so well. Having said that dropping support for IE8 is the right move and their best move considering Microsoft is stuck because they seem unable to shed their petulant past. The irony is that Google dropping IE8 is making them look petulant.