Gmail will no longer officially support Chrome version 53 and lower as of February 18th, according to a blog post from Google. The post asserts that users of outdated browsers will see a banner informing them of the depreciation effort from the aforementioned date, and Gmail will cease to function on these old browsers at the end of this year. This is reportedly because the lack of security updates and new features on the old browsers, which makes Gmail more insecure to use than it should be. Some users will be redirected to the basic HTML version of Gmail before support is cut entirely. While Google normally lets their policy to only support the newest version of Chrome do the talking, they made this announcement because they are not only dropping support, but will be disabling a core product for users of outdated software, and because Windows XP and Windows Vista, two obsolete operating systems still in somewhat wide use, cannot run the newest versions of Chrome.
This does not just affect users of old Windows systems as versions of Apple's Mac OS X older than 10.8, as well as derivatives of Debian Wheezy or older, Ubuntu Precise or older, and any 32-bit Linux-based operating system got their support cut early on in 2016, while Chrome version 54, the oldest that will continue to support Gmail going forward, was released in October of last year. Just like users of Windows XP and Vista, anybody on these operating systems will see a banner beginning February 18th, and Chrome will be rendered unable to run Gmail as of the end of this year.
All is not lost for those who are stuck on old operating systems or with old hardware for one reason or another. The open-source Chromium browser, the project on which Chrome is based, will continue to make their newest versions available to those on older operating systems for the foreseeable future. While this could potentially cause some compatibility issues, it does give those with older hardware and software a bit more time to make the jump to a supported system. While some modern, purpose-built Linux distributions are still 32-bit, such as the base version of Puppy Linux, most anybody running hardware with a 64 bit processor is in good shape to upgrade their OS and grab the newest Chrome version. 32-bit versions of Windows exist all the way up through Windows 10, and can run the newest versions of Chrome.