In May 2013, Google introduced a brand new version of Google maps that officially replaced the old version 9 months later. The old version was still available to many users who were using old browsers such as IE 8 or 9. But now, even for the older browsers, Google will be dropping the old version of Google Maps for a new and improved “Lite Mode.”
Abby from the Google Maps Team announced this in the Google Maps Help Forum. They stated “In 2013, we previewed a new version of desktop Maps and since then, we’ve been continually improving the product to provide a richer, more engaging, and more helpful mapping experience. We will soon be rolling out the updated version of Google Maps to everyone. After the update, you'll no longer be able to use the older, classic Google Maps.
The new Lite mode
As part of the update, we’ve built a completely new Lite mode to provide a faster, streamlined version of Maps. Maps may automatically update to Lite mode if you are using an older browser (such as Internet Explorer 8 or 9).”
The new lite mode will make the maps load faster, you have an older browser or OS and 3D Earth view and other 3D imagery won't work – that is when you'll see it.
Google has created a help document answering some common questions about this update. Google however, has not announced any specific date for this change but they will do it soon.