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YouTube Halts Full Support for Older Browsers on 13 March 2010

Google's YouTube is dropping future feature upgrade support for certain older browsers, most notably Internet Explorer 6 for Windows. But reader Mike Lemon discovered and alerted us that the last release of Firefox for Mac OS X 10.3.9 Panther - version - will also be dropped from supported browsers. Safari 1.3.2, the last version of Safari that works under Panther, is also too old for further development.

YouTube explains on a FAQ page that dropping support doesn't mean videos will no longer play in older browsers. Rather, new features won't be engineered to work on these ancient releases. YouTube will fully support Firefox 3.0+, Chrome 4.0+, Internet Explorer 7.0+, Opera (no version noted), and Safari 3.0+.

Panther users who want to have access to future YouTube improvements have just one choice that I can find: Opera 10, which is still compatible with both Intel- and PowerPC-based Macs.

While Panther users may be stuck in time, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger users have access to the latest version of Firefox (3.6) and Safari 3.2.3, among other browsers. (The Mozilla Foundation that manages the code base used for Firefox, Camino, and other browsers said on 8 February 2010 that it would drop Tiger support in the rendering engine that will be part of Firefox 3.7.)

YouTube started inserting interstitial messages in mid-2009 to warn users of older browsers; the message requires a click to bypass and view a video. The messages were set to appear every two weeks - ostensibly relying on cookies to avoid repeating. This is the first I've heard of it, and there's scant documentation on the Internet about it.

Google has also announced that, as of 1 March 2010, Google Apps will stop supporting older browsers too. Google will start by phasing out support in Google Docs and Google Sites, and the elimination of support will no doubt make its way out to other Google services over time as well.

Frankly, we're entirely in favor of Google taking a stand on the use of these old browsers, Internet Explorer 6 in particular. The TidBITS Web site has never rendered well in Internet Explorer 6 because its support for basic Web standards was so lacking, and we couldn't justify spending significant time and effort on such an old browser for a non-Apple platform. It's a little too bad that those people left on Mac OS X 10.3 Panther will start to see a loss of functionality, but those older browsers simply don't have the capabilities Web developers need to offer a modern Web site.


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Comments about YouTube Halts Full Support for Older Browsers on 13 March 2010
(Comments are closed.)

John Baxter  2010-02-22 21:54
It's odd that you missed it. I was fully aware, but since I was not using any of the soon-to-be-dropped browsers I didn't take much notice.

I learned of it in news items, not in interstitials. Did they limit those to the to-be-dropped browsers?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-02-23 07:51
I've heard that Google Apps will also be dropping support for some older browsers in the near future. It's none too soon for IE6! (Then we can officially say that we've dropped support for it too, whereas in fact we've just been too irritated by its rendering limitations to recode our entire site for it. :-))
Is it really true that Panther can run Safari 3.2.3? At the Apple site, it says Tiger required.
Glenn Fleishman  2010-02-24 11:33
Sorry, that was an error. The article has been updated to explain the limits Panther users have, and what works in Tiger. Opera 10 will work in 10.3 on PowerPC, apparently.
Yes, Opera 10 works in 10.3; I just downloaded it and tried it on my wife's machine. But the the latest version of the Flash plugin won't install. I can't help wondering if YouTube really means they're going to start depending on Flash 10 features.
Glenn Fleishman  2010-03-04 10:01
I don't think so. There's a huge audience of Flash 9 users, and the browser and Flash version are independent of each other.

Really, I suspect YouTube is moving away from reliance on Flash, and newer versions of the Web site will use HTML, JavaScript, and other features that aren't supported in the browsers that Google is deprecating.
Ian McMahan  2010-03-01 18:06
Alas, my (quite functional, all things considered) G3 PowerBook still runs on OS9 and Mozilla. The number of websites I can successfully access keeps shrinking by the day.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-03-02 07:18
It's always interesting how computers force us to differentiate between hardware functioning and software functioning. I have oodles of old Macs that push electrons around just as well as they always did; the problem is that code enabled by those electrons no longer does what I need.
Philippe  2010-03-03 04:36
With Camino 1.6.10 on 10.3.9, we've also seen random messages asking to upgrade the Flash player. Tough luck there, as Flash 9 is the last supported version by Adobe.

Quite sad, in a way. I fully understand Google's crusade against IE 6 (a security & technology nightmare). Dropping support for other browsers. hmm. It remains to be seen if simply watching movies will still work without hassle.