Google Goes Adulting with Internet Explorer and Some High School Science Club Magic

May 4, 2019

Ah, the high school science club. The motto, “We do what we want because we’re smarter and can” is alive and well. If you want some insight into how business processes, tactics, and smart people work, you don’t have far to seek.

The most recent example, which I assume is true because everything on the Internet is accurate, may be explained in “A Conspiracy to Kill IE6.” The main idea is that the GOOG wanted to make sure that it would have a clear path to browser fame. One hurdle was the fact that Windows contained a browser. The problem? How to make this “advantage” go away. The fix? Take steps to create FUD, the old IBM standby.

According to the write up:

IE6 had been the bane of our [Google’s] web development team’s existence.

The fix:

We would put a small banner above the video player that would only show up for IE6 users. It would read “We will be phasing out support for your browser soon. Please upgrade to one of these more modern browsers.” Next to the text would be links to the current versions of the major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, IE8 and eventually, Opera. The text was intentionally vague and the timeline left completely undefined.

The result:

browser share

And the lesson:

We somehow got away with our plan to kill IE6 without facing any meaningful corrective action. Few people even knew we were involved at all and those that did, did not want to bring attention to it or risk encouraging similar behavior. At a beer garden in San Francisco, our boss, winking his hardest, made us swear to never do anything like this again. We agreed, toasted IE6 falling into single digit percentages, and never snuck anything into production again.

I believe everything I read on the Internet. Toasted that. And why not set your moral compass the high school science club management way?

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2019


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