Google, Internet Browsers, and You

In my inbox last night, I received an email with the following information in it:

In order to continue to improve our products and deliver more sophisticated features and performance, we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology.  This includes faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5.  As a result, over the course of 2010, we will be phasing out support for Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as other older browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

We plan to begin phasing out support of these older browsers on the Google Docs suite and the Google Sites editor on March 1, 2010.  After that point, certain functionality within these applications may have higher latency and may not work correctly in these older browsers. Later in 2010, we will start to phase out support for these browsers for Google Mail and Google Calendar.

Google Apps will continue to support Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above.

So what does this mean?

Obviously, it means that, if you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 and older, you will be unable to use Google Apps by the end of this year. But it also means a shift in the way we view the internet. Why? Take a look at the reasons why they are shifting. It’s in the first paragraph: “we are harnessing some of the latest improvements in web browser technology…including faster JavaScript processing and new standards like HTML5.” There are huge changes coming in the way websites are developed and displayed this coming year. HTML 5 will be able to display videos and graphics without using Flash, there are multiple ways of using “non-traditional” fonts in website design (like sIFR, Cufon, and Typekit), and Javascript frameworks (like Prototype, jQuery, YUI, and Dojo) are allowing for great user-interfaces all over the web.

But this doesn’t matter to you directly. But it does matter.

Why This Matters

You don’t care about Javascript frameworks and the <canvas> tag. You do care that customers can have a pleasurable experience interacting with you: whether online or offline. And you care that you yourself are able to browse the internet effectively and efficiently. So what does this mean? Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is Your Website Ready? Is your website designed to meet standards like HTML5, CSS3, and Section 508? Can someone who is visually impaired browse your website? Does your web presence rely on the shortcomings of old browsers, like Internet Explorer 6, or does your web presence revel in the opportunity to be shown by newer browsers?
  • Are You Ready? In our experience here at DTI Greenville and SmarterBiz, the number one cause of internet security breaches (and frustration) is using Internet Explorer. Not only are you more vulnerable, but more and more websites and web applications (like Google Apps) are dropping their support for IE’s standards. As your friend and your free online consultant, I encourage you to choose a different browser than Internet Explorer. Below are some great choices.

Ways to Be Prepared

Download a new browser, one that is both standards compliant and secure. The following browsers are all recommended by people here at DTI:

  • Mozilla Firefox (link) – The standard in standards-compliant browsers.
  • Google Chrome (link) – If you use web applications often (Google Apps, 37 Signals, etc.), Chrome is the fastest for online applications.
  • Maxthon (link) – This browser is a more secure, safer, faster Internet Explorer. Good for people who like the “feel” of IE, but not the drawbacks.
  • Apple Safari (link) – Apple’s flagship browser, installed on all Macs, is now available for Windows. Decent alternative, but I still prefer Firefox or Chrome.

Make sure your business’ website is standards compliant, in both your Structure and Accessiblity (for the impaired or handicapped population interested in your product).

4 Comments

  1. Brad Proctor says:

    Firefox is great but it does not support H.264 for HTML5 video methods which the new YouTube HTML5 player uses.

    Until Firefox adopts it, Chrome and Safari are your only options if you wish to use the HTML5 YouTube player which is WAY faster and more reliable than Flash will ever be.

    • Smarter Biz says:

      This raises two points:

      1) Yet another reason to prefer Chrome to Firefox, as I personally do. Many people in my office disagree, but thanks for the ammo. :)

      2) Should proprietary formats be encouraged in something as ubiquitous as HTML5? Isn’t this a software monopoly? Then again, Google does have the right to use whatever they want in their own product (Youtube). But should it be supported in HTML5?

  2. Brad Proctor says:

    I support Chrome and hope it wins…

    Why? because it is based off the same core as Safari – WebKit

    As far as formats H.264 is ubiquitous itself – more so than HTML5 is currently. ALL major video platforms use and support the format – why not Firefox?

    MP3 is also a proprietary format but it did fine.

    Even the devil of all video, Flash, supports flv with a MP4 header – known as F4V and at its core will support playing MP4 content.

    Firefox needs to get off their high horse and realize it may be proprietary but it is now a standard. If the largest video site on the net decides to use it.. it IS the standard.

  3. Smarter Biz says:

    Firefox is unable to use it and retain their current business model. That’s as simple as it gets.

    HTML5 will eventually surpass H.264 in reach, and an open-source format will be the dominant format. Mark my words.

Leave a Comment