Not everyone can afford to have the latest and best gadgets all of the time, and in fact a good number of people have to keep what they own going for as long as they can. As computers age they can no longer support the latest operating systems, and eventually software too. Yet from time to time a company will decide to stop supporting older software, leaving the people who run it with increasingly vulnerable systems.
At times, this may seem incredibly unfair. It is perfectly understandable when devices cannot take the newest software because they are now too slow for it, but when companies simply stop supporting older software, it almost seems like discrimination. Yet, they have fair reason for doing so, especially when you consider the number of people who simply choose not to upgrade, even when their computers are capable and when the upgrade is free.
Those people who no longer have the option of upgrading the software are put in the awkward situation of being on their own. In some cases it might simply mean that they no longer have support from the company, as when Windows operating systems stop being supported. It does not however, mean that they can no longer use the software, just that they are vulnerable to threats from weaknesses in the software. These weaknesses can be overcome by the appropriate use of anti-virus software suites.
Yet when companies such as Google stop supporting a product it can cut people off. Those people who for whatever reason will not upgrade their browser will eventually find that they cannot access certain Google services, and will either have to find a way to upgrade, or go elsewhere for the services that Google used to provide for them. So why do they do it?
Older software, in short, can be dangerous. An older browser such as Internet Explorer 6 is likely to have a number of vulnerabilities. As software ages, more of the potential problems are discovered by hackers and virus writers, and the number of viruses that can exploit them increases. As long as vulnerable software continues to be used, the risks remain high to those who use it, and it increases the risks to all of us by supporting botnets and other major threats.
From a website creator’s point of view, the older browsers don’t support current standards or current functionality. This can be limiting as it prevents them from using the latest features that are available when it comes to creating interactive pages, and it increases the work for them, as they have to backwards test their pages to ensure that even older browsers will correctly display what they have created.
Many browser alternatives are available, many of them being far lighter on resource requirements than IE is. This means that even older computers should be able to find a more modern browser that works for them, so that they can continue to use all websites.
This is why, from August 1st, Google will cease to support older browsers. It will only support the two latest versions of any of the browser types and will not be testing functionality for older versions. As unfair as it may seem when older software support is dropped, the reasons for it are genuine and often very necessary.