Gmail will soon drop support for Chrome version 53 and below, a move expected to hit Windows XP and Vista users the most, given that Chrome 49 was the last browser iteration released for them.
The change will occur on February 8, 2017, when users accessing their Gmail accounts using Chrome 53 or an older browser iteration will be presented with a banner at the top of the Gmail interface, informing them the application is no longer supported.
The idea behind this move, Google says, is to encourage users to upgrade to newer versions of Chrome, with Chrome 56 being the latest. Made available last week, this browser release brought various important security updates, the Internet giant said.
Windows XP and Windows Vista users who access the Internet via Chrome are expected to be impacted the most, Google admits. Chrome 49, which graduated to the stable channel in March 2016, was the last browser version to offer support for the two operating systems.
Chrome users on these platform versions have been left out of almost an entire year of security patches, not to mention that they are also left out of Microsoft’s monthly patches as well. In fact, security experts have already warned of the threat the ongoing use of Windows XP and Vista poses for enterprises.
In December last year, Mozilla announced plans to kill Firefox for Windows XP and Vista. Microsoft stopped updating Internet Explorer 8 (along with IE 9 and 10) in January 2016, which was yet another hit to Windows XP users, since as many as 88% of them still use this browser version.
According to Google, Gmail users who will continue to access their email accounts using Chrome Browser 53 and below will be exposed to security risks and won’t benefit from new features and bugfixes. While Gmail will continue to work for them throughout the year, they “could be redirected to the basic HTML version of Gmail as early as Dec 2017,” the company says in an announcement.
Users are advised to update their browser as soon as possible, to ensure increased security. Administrators too are encouraged to do so, to keep users on the latest version of Chrome. However, some users might need to migrate to a newer operating system to receive access to the latest Chrome release.
Google also underlines that, while its “current supported browser policy” notes that only the most recent version of Chrome is supported, it decided to make the announcement regarding the discontinued support for older versions of Chrome because of the expected impact on Windows XP and Windows Vista users.