A group of engineers of YouTube has plotted to kill Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 nearly 10 years ago and the entire plot has been revealed by a former Google and YouTube engineer Chris Zacharias.
According to a report in The Verge on Saturday, YouTube in 2009 started displaying a banner to Internet Explorer 6 users, warning that support for Microsoft’s browser would be “phasing out” soon. Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.
Frustrated by supporting the old browser, “we began collectively fantasizing about how we could exact our revenge on IE6”, revealed Chris Zacharias. “The plan was very simple. We would put a small banner above the video player that would only show up for IE6 users,” he was quoted as saying. The message appeared on all YouTube pages - “at a time when IE6 users represented around 18 percent of all YouTube traffic”.
YouTube engineers created a special set of permissions called “OldTuber”, so they could bypass Google’s code enforcement policies and make changes directly to the YouTube codebase with limited code reviews. “We saw an opportunity in front of us to permanently cripple IE6 that we might never get again,” Zacharias said.
Two Google attorneys wanted to know why YouTube had the banner in place. “They immediately demanded that we remove the banner,” said Zacharias. “The lawyers were worried that Chrome was being promoted first as an alternative browser, prompting fears about EU regulators looking for anti-competitive behavior,” the report noted.
YouTube engineers had programmed the banner with an intent to randomly display browsers such as Internet Explorer 8, Firefox, and Opera. However, the result was a massive dip in Internet Explorer 6 traffic to YouTube.
“Within one month, our YouTube IE6 user base was cut in half and over 10 percent of global IE6 traffic had dropped off while all other browsers increased in corresponding amounts,” informed Zacharias.
The search engine giant Google was first released in 2008 for Windows XP and with 43 supported languages, in December 2008.
By Sowmya Sangam