In late 2007, Google upgraded the tracking code script for Analytics. The new script, ga.js, offered a number of significant improvements over the old script, urchin.js. If that didn't convince you, it also offered some assurance: Google would be maintaining ga.js going forward but urchin.js support would end at some point within 12-18 months.
Given how important web analytics are to online publishers, one might have expected websites to switch over to the new code pronto, especially major websites.
According to Pingdom, a website monitoring service, however, that isn't the case. It performed a survey of the top 10,000 sites on the internet and found that of the 50% that use Google Analytics, a full 40% are still using the old Analytics script more than a year after it became depreciated.
Those sites that are asleep at the wheel include Blogger, Doubleclick, IGN, Fox News, Match.com, Wired, iStockPhoto and PC World.
These sites not using the new code are not only missing out on the functionality that doesn't come with urchin.js, they're putting themselves at risk; the word on the street is that Google will be pulling the plug on urchin.js "sometime this summer".
While it's unlikely that this would have any impact on sites that haven't switched over other than possibly losing analytics data going forward until they upgrade, the larger issue here is that lots of site owners are often lazy when it comes to the third party code that they embed on their sites.
Even if the decommissioning of urchin.js won't cause major problems, the same isn't necessarily true for all the other popular third party code that's floating around out there which could, if not managed properly, be the source of security risks. In the past, third party code has been responsible for breaking sites altogether.
So if you're one of the people who hasn't upgraded to ga.js, do yourself a favor and take care of it now. It can serve as a good start on the road to more prudent management of all the third party code you may be embedding on your sites.
Photo credit: kaibara87 via Flickr.