Secret Plot to Kill Off Internet Explorer 6 by YouTube Gets Divulged by Former Google Engineer

Nearly decade’s back, YouTube started to show a banner to the users of Internet Explorer 6, cautioning them that support for Microsoft’s browser would drop and recede soon.

It was a message that popped up on all YouTube pages, at a time when IE6 users represented around 18% of all YouTube traffic. Irked by supporting the aging browser, a group of YouTube engineers had devised a plan to kill Internet Explorer 6.

Chris Zacharias, a former Google and YouTube engineer stated that the plan was very simple. They planned to put a small banner above the video player, which would only show up for IE6 users. A group of engineers executed this banner, knowing that most YouTube employees using the company’s staging environment won’t even see it. At the time, Google had obtained YouTube a few years prior to the IE6 banner and the video sharing site hadn’t really fully modified to Google’s infrastructure and policies.

YouTube engineers had designed a special set of consent called “OldTuber,” so they could dodge Google’s code enforcement policies and make alterations directly to the YouTube codebase with restricted code reviews. Zacharias and some other engineers were permitted OldTuber permissions, giving them to place the banner in place with very little mistake. “We saw an opportunity in front of us to permanently disarm IE6, which might not be accessed again.

In July 2009, the banner appeared and the press coverage immediately accepted Google’s push to slay Internet Explorer 6 support on YouTube. Zacharias stated that two Google lawyers even wanted to know why the YouTube banner was in place and demanded that it should be removed. However, it turned out that YouTube engineers had programmed the banner to casual browsers, such as Firefox, Internet Explorer 8, and eventually Opera and they indicated this to the lawyers. Zacharias stated that the lawyers quickly receded back to their desks without any further worries.

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