This month Google released a statement announcing that they will be ending support for older browsers come August 1, 2011. Only the most recent and second most recent version of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Chrome will be supported. Google will update its supported browser list on a rolling basis. This means that as a new version of a browser is released, Google will end its support for the third most recent release.

These are the browsers currently supported:

  • Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9
  • Firefox 3.5, 3.6 and 4.0
  • Safari 3, 4, 5
  • Chrome

As of August 1, 2011, Internet Explorer 7, Firefox 3.5 and Safari 3 will no longer be supported. This does not mean you can’t use Google Apps with those browsers, it just means that Google cannot guarantee that the features and functionality will work properly.

Google Apps for Business users receive email and phone support with their paid licenses. The “no support” statement means that they will not receive customer service if they are using older browsers.

You can upgrade to the latest release of your browser using the following links:

Most browsers will also prompt you to download and install the latest version. Downloading the latest version of browser is also a good security measure as it contains the latest virus protection.

Note: If you use Offline Gmail, DO NOT UPDATE YOUR BROWSER (read more below).

Google’s decree to only support “modern browser” is fueled by the functionality that HTML5 adds to Mail, Calendar, Docs and Sites. Check out this demo of cool HTML5 features.

HTML5 is the engine behind the newest features in Gmail and Google Docs such as drag and drop attachment uploading, drag and drop embedded images, new mail notifications, and the new Google Docs Folder Uploader. Currently these features (Figure A) are only available in Chrome and the latest versions of Firefox.

Figure A

You can drag and drop images – Image courtesy of the Official Gmail Blog


This announcement by Google is followed by the awkwardly timed announcement that Google Offline is not supported in the latest browsers.
Currently Offline functionality for Google Mail relies on Google Gears, a set of Firefox and Internet Explorer extensions that will be deprecated in Q3 2011. (Figure B)

Figure B

Google Gears required

Offline is only supported in Firefox 3.6 and Internet Explorer 8. If you use a newer version of Firefox, IE or Chrome, Offline will not work until sometime in Q3.

Figure C shows a summary of what will happen with Google Offline in the next few months:

Figure C

Source: Google Support

In fact, the feature has already been deprecated in Google Chrome. (Figure D)

Figure D

Not supported in this version of Google Chrome

Offline Gmail is a feature that can be enabled or disabled on Google Apps for Business domains. Many companies that “Go Google” are concerned with Offline access for remote workers, salespeople and users who have an inconsistent Internet connection. The Google Gears version of Offline has been criticized for unreliability and inconsistency.

The new Offline feature will be built using HTML5 and will likely first be released as a Web App to early adopters. The newer version should be more reliable than the Gears version of Offline mail. After the Offline feature is available in Mail, it should soon be released in Calendar and Docs. This will take care of the “how do I access my data when I’m on a plane?” question.

If your organization uses Google Chrome for Offline Mail, your users will receive an error message when they go to the Offline mail tab in Settings.

You should encourage users to try Firefox 3.6 or Internet Explorer 8 until the new Offline is released.

If your users are already on Firefox or Internet Explorer, they should NOT update to the latest version of Firefox or IE, they should stay with Firefox 3.6 and Internet Explorer 8.

If you don’t use Offline, then go ahead and update your browser to the latest version. That way, when August 1st rolls around, you will be able to access all the new HTML5 Google Apps features. A good bet is that Google will be using HTML5 to incorporate many of the product ideas that users submitted for Docs and Tasks earlier this year.