So I just read that Google will only support “modern browsers” starting 2 months from now.
As of August 1st, we will discontinue support for the following browsers and their predecessors: Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 7, and Safari 3. In these older browsers you may have trouble using certain features in Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Docs and Google Sites, and eventually these apps may stop working entirely.
Given the importance of Google, the impact is huge. This company has acquired the power to basically dictate what browser you can provide to your users - otherwise they won’t be able to access what many of them now consider vital functionality.
Such a decision denotes a grave misunderstanding of the workstation ecosystem from the Google people. It means they consider their only target to be nerdy users with home computers they can (and want to) upgrade and break every 3 months with the latest version of Windows or Fedora. What about corporate computers? What about non-techy people who buy a computer and stick with the OS that was sold with it for 4 years? I’m afraid they are still the vast majority of web users. You can’t decide to deploy a new version of IE of Firefox on a large number of computers for next month. Sometimes, this is not even possible (hello Windows 2000/XP users).
Let’s quote a comment which should help understanding the reasoning behind such decisions.
Andy, while I understand staying on LTS, I think it's a little bit silly to use a mission critical machine for web browsing in that way. Also, there is no reason your browser has to be tied in lockstep to your OS.
Two simple solutions:
1. Don't use the built-in browser for your main web browsing. Install Chrome, for example. or,
2. Since LTS is designed for servers and other "can't have any chance of downtime" machines, quit using that machine as your web browsing box and use a personal laptop for such things, which you can keep up to date with the current OS release instead of waiting 2 years.
Belief #1: “the browser can (and should) be independent from the OS”. It’s interesting to note that the same people who say this are the ones who also jerk off at the idea of desktops and phones with tight web integration. This integration comes at a cost: this restricts your ability to change everything in the browser from one day to another.
Belief #2: “long-term OSes are for mission-critical servers only”. Yeah sure, that’s why Windows has a lifecycle of 3 years. Desktops are no different at all from servers on this matter. You don’t upgrade your desktop every 6 months when you do serious work with it; the cost and the risk are just too high. And anyway, this comes again from the same people who want to upgrade every single component of said mission-critical servers every 2 months to install the latest version of their preferred web framework.
Belief #3: “people can upgrade their browsers or OSes”. No really they can’t. Many people wouldn’t know how to do this, even with a step-by-step documentation. And in enterprise deployments, they are restricted from doing so.
Thanks for spreading the cliché that web developers are clueless, spotty nerds, incapable of understanding the needs of production environments. Apparently Google is not exempt from this disease.