Posted January 2, 2009 10:10 am by with 53 comments

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If you’re reading this post using Internet Explorer 6, Google wants you to know that you’re a loser.

OK, maybe I’m paraphrasing a little (lot), but according to Ars Technica, Google is trying to convince Gmail users to switch from IE6 to a faster browser.

With a simple "Get faster Gmail" message (which only appears in IE, and not in Safari, Firefox, or Chrome), Google is luring users of its e-mail service to a support page which explains that IE is slow at running Gmail.

When you get to the support page, you’re encouraged to download either Firefox or Google’s own Chrome. There’s a brief mention of IE8’s beta release, but we suspect that was only added after this news first broke. Google’s not shy in trying to get you to switch browsers either:

Browsers are getting faster and better at running web applications like Google Mail that use browser technology to its limits. In order to get the best experience possible and make Google Mail run an average of twice as fast, we suggest that you upgrade your browser to one of the fastest Google Mail supported browsers that work on Windows.

This is not the first time a search engine has tried to get you to switch browsers, but Google’s effort is a little more low-key–no tricks involved, and it does give you a choice of Firefox as an alternative to Chrome.

What do you think of the Gmail message? Brilliant marketing or an act of desperation?

  • Steve

    Who still uses IE6? This also shows up in IE7. Also, Google is promoting Chrome on the footer of YouTube.

  • Looking at my stats, around 10% of Marketing Pilgrim readers are still using IE6.

    For the record, I don’t think they’re losers. 😉

  • I think it’s a great idea when any large, influential company pushes users away from older technology (IE6). But I don’t like when the same companies try to push their own products. IE7 & FF3 are perfect choices for web surfers to any current website.

    BTW: many large organizations with tight IT security policies (e.g., US gov’t offices) will use nothing but IE6. That ‘will not’ change for a long time to come no matter what anyone thinks, wishes or wants.

  • I use Firefox and IE6 also

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  • Up until 2 weeks ago, we were all still using ie6 at work, we now have updated to ie7 and ff3 is the new standard.

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  • PS3

    I’d never had any real speed issue with IE6 but made a welcome switch to Firefox a while back. More recently though, it seems to be hogging a heck of a lot of memory, maybe it is time to switch back?

  • This is a huge slap in the face to Microsoft.

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  • IE6 came out in 2001. IE7 in 2006.

    Are you using any (unupdated) software from 2001?

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  • Haha. Well, we’re all tired of IE6. Application developers need to do extra work. Web developer regularly have to hack our stylesheets and use conditional comments to make IE6 behave… Yes, PLEASE encourage everyone to upgrade. Use IE 7, use Firefox, use Chrome…. something other than IE 6. lol.

    You know, I don’t know how I survived when I had to deal with the IE 5 series…

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  • I use Firefox, but it turns into a bit of a resource hog as the plugins accumulate. Am toying around with Chrome, it definitely performs faster in back to back tests where I’m opening multiple browser windows. IE6 is a tad archaic by now, but people are very resistant to change I’ve found. They’ll rather be stuck with the devil they know….

  • It’s not just why are people using IE 6, why are people using IE full stop?!

  • @Keith Parnell

    “But I don’t like when the same companies try to push their own products.”

    Why would a company not try to push its own products? Do you not think Google has an obligation to its shareholders to promote Chrome?

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  • IE6 is a horrible browser and should not be used anymore. It is a developer’s nightmare and doesn’t have any of the cool features firefox has. The biggest problem is that many people are not tech savvy and don’t realize that newer versions are available or are afraid to upgrade.

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  • Dang, I am still a loser!

  • Yet another stepping stone to personalized messages being sent…this has the potential to unnerve some people concerned with privacy, but others will enjoy the “genius” of it.

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  • If you encounter any error with gmail In any browser (including firefox) …Google recommends using chrome.

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  • I think it’s a realistic move by Google … they want Chrome to succeed, and they have an excellent megaphone with which to spread the word.

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  • I can’t stand web users who still use the older browsers. However, they can’t complain about speed because obviously, using that older browser, it’s not a matter for them.

    Google’s message is clever, but I think it’s kind of tacky to crossmarket their products. Even if they’re including other products as well.

  • i dont like IE personally. i recently check my stats and most people are using mozilla

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  • Actually, the main reason for a glut of IE6 still being around on the internet is because of companies whose intranets rely on the broken behaviour of IE6 and cannot or will not fix it, either because the original developer has long since moved on, or because doing so would be so expensive it becomes impractical.

  • Mozilla in over 10 years of marketing on the net I have never seen my stats say that most of my visits were from mozilla? Anyway I use IE7 and dont have any problems with it I tried Firefox for a while and foud its not all its cracked up to be its good dont get me wrong but I guess I just did not care for it.

    As far as Google goes well Im not a sheep like most of the internet world I cant see WHY people suck up to them so much they treat people like *(*(*&^^ ever try to get a email response from them?

    Like my Adsense got cancelled I still dont know to this day why it seems I cant get a answer from them so how do I know whats wrong? And they want me to install their browser LOL YEAH RIGHT.

  • Chrome still doesn’t work with my trackpad’s scroll even after the updates and so on. Sorry but I refuse to use any browser that screws up my hardware and even after I open and close it my trackpad scroll won’t work in FF either.

    I don’t really care that Google is promoting it’s own services. Big deal, they should do it with any means they can and if you are a Gmail user then you are going to get messages about their other stuff from time to time. After all what do you expect to pay for a free service?

    Now, I’d be pretty annoyed if Google were sniffing my browser and then inserting these messages into my searches – I’d feel like that was being a little TOO intrusive for my liking even with the free nature of using Google search.

  • IE8 is the best!!!!!

  • I really don’t understand why people regularly use a browser to read their mail? Unless you are not using your own computer. I use a mail client for all my email services and receive much of it on my Iphone. If you don’t like Google’s messages, don’t use their services. If you use IE in any form you are looking for problems.

  • I also use Microsoft Outlook to read email from all of my accounts, but as for browser speed – there’s no doubt about it – Google Chrome is the fastest. I’ve switched now and my statistics show more and more Chrome users almost each day.

  • Neither. Just common sense.

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  • J Tumplet
  • Why people still use IE 6 still remains a mystery to me! But Google can’t do this to people! Chrome is good and FF even better(If not for the memory issues it’s the best) but IE is not bad altogether. My site stats say most people use IE 6 after Firefox! Strange! I use the latest versions of FF, Chrome and Opera! 🙂

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  • This is nothing but an immature attempt by Google to promote its Chrome. It is almost impossible to dislodge IE from its numero uno position unless of course Google finds a way to package its Chrome with some OS or piggyback on Gmail.

  • IE6 is very slow and IE7 is still slow… A lot of users still use IE6, most people still don’t update their OS, the other day i was fixing a computer which was never updated for years, took me about 4 hours to do windows updates.

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  • Brilliant marketing or an act of desperation? I would say both! IE6 is bad and need to be replaced, however Goggle’s goal is to promote Chrome more than anything else!

  • The only time I use IE6 is when I want to test how it interprets web design the worst. I can always depend on it to ruin any web design. IE7 is tolerable, but too many bells and whistles underneath bleeding us of speed. IE8? I haven’t messed with it much. I rely on Firefox. Most consistent in my mind. Opera is almost as bad as IE6. Even Mozilla’s original browser performs better than IE6. Google has a decent product. It’s just not mature yet. It’s a bit choppy, and still remains a bit unpredictable. It’s not very smooth with flash-type production either. It does show promising processing and I’m encouraged to see how they can give everyone else a run for their money.

  • Well I think IE6 is awesome! And so do all the other members of The IE6 Supporter’s Club.

    Have a look at the video 😉

  • It’s obvious they want us to switch to non-microsoft products. What raises a few eyebrows is the fact that they’re still acknowledging Mozilla Firefox to be a good variant when they themselves have a competing browser (Google Chrome).

  • I didn’t have too many bad experiences with Opera, but IE6 can definitely ruin your web site!

  • This video is awesome!

  • Google is right. i stopped to use IE 5 years ago. Because not only the page loading time but also IE has lots of bugs.So it is not strong for some dangerious trojans. Also the a lot of Add-On can be added to firefox and this property shows that the firefox is the best browser

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  • This is common way to attract people. Hotmail used this method to become first famous free mail service. Now, google is doing it.

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  • I wouldn’t say it’s an act of desperation… nor would I say it’s brilliant marketing. They’re simply promoting their own product, just as they should.. and the fact that their product IS better than teh competitor they’re putting down, all the better for them

  • Good on them! The more people that stop using IE6, the better life will be for web developers. I reckon that only large companies that haven’t yet upgraded all their PC’s still have IE6, and that most personal users would have moved on. Although that’s just my view and not backed up anything more than a hunch.

  • Very very good point, Tony! The large companies are indeed still using IE6!
    Last year I saw IE6 installed on a PC in a large company.

  • @Jessica – I think it’s probably quite widespread. The company I currently work in use IE6 but I also have FF installed, but have a plan to upgrade to IE7. And the Bank I used to work in still used IE6 across the company. It would be a lot of work for an IT dept to upgrade all the machines in a large company, and also many still use Win 2000 or NT.

  • Wii

    I wouldn’t touch IE with a barge pole any more but we still have IE6 at work and we are unable to use anything else. It means I can’t see many site the way they are meant to be seen but I have to put up with it I guess

  • I worked in a large insurance company and they were using IE6.

    But here is another problem…I am doing SEO for an eCommerce site and in Google Analytics I can see at least 25% of all visitors are using IE6. I thought these visitors live in poor countries, they have old computers, they have no money to buy something better.

    What if all these IE6 visitors are corporations? Corporations are potential buyers in my case! There are so many bugs in IE6; it indeed can ruin any web site.

    I can’t find any package that would simulate IE6 browser.

    Now I see IE6 in different lite!
    Thank you , Tony for bringing this up!

  • after I found out firefox and flock, lost my interest on IE, don’t care even they upgrade it to IE8. I am satisfied now.

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  • I’ve just listened to the Sitepoint podcast and it reminded me of a good reason why companies won’t/can’t upgrade from IE6, and it includes the place I work in. And that is that internal systems that rely on IE, won’t work with IE7. As it would require a project to upgrade the internal systems to work with IE7, budget and time constraints could be a big factor in switching over to IE7 – especially with the way the economy is just now.

  • Well, that is half fair. They should also included option for IE7 version if they wanted to cover themselves, but this way it is clear they want visitor to switch from MS software.

  • After reading John’s post I downloaded and installed Flock. It is cute, by the way!
    How many browsers do we have today in the Internet universe? Does anyone know? Every time I look around there is another browser!

  • LOL – Good idea. Internet Explorer has stayed stagnant – they need to make this browser more open source or innovative, because FireFox and Chrome are taking over.

  • Last stat I read stated that over 80% of IE users have upgraded to IE7, doesn’t leave much of a reason for Google to be pressing people to upgrade…I smell conspiracy 😉

  • I think it’s a good idea too – Chrome is faster, why not tell people about it?

  • The best way I’ve found to deal with these clients is to offer them freebies from time to time – either a few hours at a reduced price or even for free, just don’t make this a habit. Still, this is only after the client has sent in a few payments and I know our business relationship is pretty solid; it never pays off to invest in projects that have no future.

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