Google plans to dictate browser usage

Helene posted about her frustation at trying to use AOL’s custom browser when using Blogger.   Turns out Google has decided they’re not going to support all browsers, and only specific versions of specific ones: see here.

Now I have mixed feelings about this, as someone who’s done some web-based programming I can totally understand the frustration of attempting to make sure that your website will be viewable and workable to every browser in the world.  Its seriously annoying as heck.  Most, if not all new functions, applications, and tools just don’t work right (or at all) on older browsers, can cause them to crash, or just make the website look bad, which means not using them, which is frustrating when you’re trying to create an up-to-date website.  Google wouldn’t be the first company to decide that “heck with it we’re just going to do it the way we want and if they don’t upgrade their browser then to bad”.

On the other hand you can’t just cut out all other browsers, or all old versions either.  Businesses often don’t upgrade browsers everytime an upgrade comes out, they can’t without major changes to other software.  Until their other software catches up (something that can take years) attempting to use the newest, greatest version of the browser in question just causes the whole thing to crash.  Folks with older computers, running older OS’s often don’t have a choice either, at least not one that doesn’t involve spending money on a new computer (money which a lot of folks just don’t have right now).  Heck, I still use XP, both at work AND home, yet it won’t be long before I won’t be ABLE to use the newest versions of Internet Explorer.  Now I do prefer Firefox anyway, but look at Mozilla’s planned release schedule for Firefox updates!  There are like 4 or 5 new versions expected out within the year!!

I’m really not sure that Google’s made the right move.  I have no problem with them deciding that they’re going to use the new technology and heck with it, but to make the older browsers not work at all?  Thats going to alienate a lot of customers…..