YouTube sets March 13 IE6 kill date

Users can watch videos with older browsers, but new features likely won't work

Google's YouTube will drop support for Microsoft's nearly-nine-year-old Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) in just over two weeks, the popular video site has announced.

"Support stops on March 13," said YouTube in an updated Q&A on a page dedicated to older browser support , which was first noticed by Ars Technica . "Stopped support essentially means that some future features on YouTube will be rolled out that won't work in older browsers."

IE6 isn't the only aged browser that YouTube has put on its hit list: It will also stop supporting 2005's Safari 2.x, 2006's Firefox 2.x and 2009's Chrome 3.x. IE6, however, is the oldest by far: Microsoft released the browser in mid-2001, several months before shipping Windows XP.

YouTube started warning users of those older browsers in mid-2009 that it would eventually cease supporting them as it rolled out new features and functionality. This is the first time that the site has slapped a date on the stoppage, however.

Google stepped up its part in an industry-wide "kill IE6" campaign late last month when it announced it would ditch IE6 from the list of supported browsers for its Google Docs online applications and its Google Sites hosting services starting next Monday, March 1.

The search giant also said it would discontinue IE6 support for Gmail later this year .

Microsoft has endorsed anti-IE6 efforts, although it has refrained from forcing users or companies to upgrade to IE7 or IE8, arguing that the old browser is still required by some enterprises.

According to Web metrics firm NetApplications.com, IE6 accounted for 20% of all browsers in use last month, while IE7 and IE8 held down about 15% and 25% shares, respectively. Much of the measured IE6 usage, however, apparently originates in China, where the program represents 50% of the browsers in use. In the U.S., IE6's share is less than 10%.

Users running IE6, or any of the older browsers identified by Google, will still be able to watch YouTube videos. "Some feature[s] that we roll out in the coming weeks and months may not be supported in these older browsers," YouTube cautioned.

The notice that pops up on YouTube when it recognizes an older browser will continue indefinitely, said Google.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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