De-supporting the majority?

A little long for a tweet, so I’ll post it here… word on Techmeme is that changes in Snow Leopard broke Google’s “Gears” plugin, so Google Apps will be “dropping Gears” and moving to “HTML5″ instead.

Instead of adding an invisible capability to whatever the user’s choice of configuration, would you present a “Looks Best in Browser X!” type of barrier…?

Maybe the story isn’t accurate — I haven’t found any source link in the first few retellings I’ve read [!!], so it could be just another blogospheric falsehood. But if the story is accurate, then that translates to “We’ll be dropping support for the majority of the world — people who use Microsoft browsers or older browsers — in order to reduce our development costs for the people who buy Apple’s hardware.” Sounds strange!

Corrections welcome… I’m not sure if the story is inclusively correct, or if I understood it correctly, and I’m not really interested enough at the moment to research it more deeply. But from the above LA Times piece, doesn’t it sound like going from a plugin to requiring a browser change would make the final work pragmatically inaccessible to more people?

Afterword: After re-reading the current webpages, I’m not sold… the original LA Times story purported to be a product announcement, but then only said they had an email from some unnamed person at Google. Sources which don’t cite their data tend to be bogus.