Google has said that it will stop supporting Microsoft's Internet Explorer from the start of next month.

Rajen Sheth, senior product manager for Google Apps, said that as the web has evolved from ‘simple text pages to rich, interactive applications including video and voice', old browsers cannot run many of these new features effectively.

Sheth said: “Many other companies have already stopped supporting older browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0 as well as browsers that are not supported by their own manufacturers.

“We're also going to begin phasing out our support, starting with Google Docs and Google Sites. As a result you may find that from 1st March key functionality within these products - as well as new docs and sites features - will not work properly in older browsers.”

Google followed Microsoft's lead by encouraging upgrading to Internet Explorer 8, or advanced versions of Firefox, Safari or its own Chrome browser. “2010 is going to be a great year for Google Apps and we want to ensure that everyone can make the most of what we are developing. Please take the time to switch your organisation to the most up-to-date browsers available,” said Sheth.

Meanwhile a report in the Daily Telegraph has reported that IE6 is still used by 300,000 health workers, but the Department of Health has advised that hospitals and other users upgrade to at least version seven of the software as soon as possible.

Security flaws are the main reason that has been cited, but poor performance is also a problem for users of IE6. This follows a recent revelation by security blogger Brian Krebs who said he caught a glimpse of a computer screen at a local bank, with the manager using IE6.