Google has decided to throw the switch on some older versions of Windows by halting support for Gmail if you are using a version of Google’s Chrome browser that is 53 or older. As of version 50 of the famous web browser, it is no longer compatible with Windows Vista or older (ie, XP). The current version of the browser (public release) is 56.
The purpose of this change is to help motivate users to upgrade their software and help prevent possible security issues due to outdated versions of the browser or operating system. Since Windows Vista/XP users can only upgrade to version 49 of the browser, they will begin to notice a shift as they are forced out of Gmail’s current user interface (UI).
Starting tomorrow (Feb 8th, 2017), these users will be met with a notification at the top of their Gmail page, letting them know that they should upgrade their browser. Later towards the end of the year, Google is considering booting them back into the basic (older) version of Gmail until they access it from a current browser. This will block them from using any of the current features, such as chat, rich formatting, spelling tools and so on.
They chose their versions purposely as to target older versions of Windows that are no longer being supported by Microsoft. An unsupported operating system means no more security patches, which means a cesspool of security holes. Google doesn’t want their users to be affected by any of these issues, by persuading them to upgrade Windows. Thus allowing them to upgrade their browse and to use the full potential of their Gmail account (once they have).
All of your favorite browsers have dropped support for the same older versions of Windows, giving less reason to stick around anyway. All of the companies seem to be standing together to put an end to the stubbornness of users wanting to update their software. Windows isn’t always affordable, however, Windows XP came out 16 years ago. You have to eventually give in and realize enough is enough. Maybe its time.
You can still access Gmail using your favorite mail programs (ie, Outlook, Thunderbird, etc). You will just see these restrictions when attempting to use them from an older browser.
Best way to get around this is to upgrade to a newer version of Windows obviously. Windows 10 can be found just about everywhere. You can still opt for Windows 8.1 or 7 for the time being, but Windows 7 won’t be around for much longer either as support for it will end in 2020. If your PC is too old to run a recent version of Windows, then it might be time to upgrade the computer itself.