Today, Google announced that it will begin phasing out support on older browsers, most notably IE6, for Google Docs. It will take this step with Gmail and Calendar later in the year. This is a big step.

There has been much debate about the best way to handle browser obsolescence. On the one had, newer browsers offer a great improvement in user experience and web application capabilities. On the other hand, many people continue to use old browsers, largely because they don’t have other options.

Google has done this math and is making a pretty bold move; Google Apps are used by a lot of corporate clients, which is where legacy browsers tend to persist.

Google is making the calculation that they will not lose business over this. I imagine that IT departments really like Google Apps and so many will be on board — given the choice between upgrading their users’ browsers (and dependent apps) vs. going back to Exchange or Notes, they will choose the former. And you can bet that no IT people use IE6 on their own machines.

It might be a harder sell when dealing with legacy line-of-business apps that depend on ActiveX or which were authored for IE6’s quirks. The business people may be less forgiving. It’s not without risk.

At this point, in 2010, I support the effort. Not simply because I am developer who wishes other people would use the latest and greatest — remember, not everyone is a techie and they have legitimate reasons for not wanting to spend time on this crap (hi Dad!).

Developers (like me) are getting a free ride on this — Google and IT departments will play bad cop while we enjoy a better platform for our work. So I find it hard to complain. :)