RIP to a Legacy Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer Has Passed OnRIP to a Legacy Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer Has Passed On
Microsoft has ended support for IE 27 years after its release but offers “IE mode” with its Edge browser.
June 16, 2022
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser, released nearly 27 years ago, is officially retired. The company on Tuesday ended support for IE, which made its debut with the release of Windows 95.
It is unlikely many users will miss IE. To some, it may even come as a surprise that IE still existed. IE accounted for just 0.64 web browsing sessions, according to Statcounter, mostly to access legacy web apps. Microsoft replaced IE as its default browser with Microsoft Edge with the launch of Windows 10 in 2015.
Although Edge replaced IE, the older browser remained available with Windows 10. However, Microsoft encouraged users switch to the new browser, noting it was significantly more secure, and boasted better performance. The sunsetting of IE was expected. Microsoft announced its plan to end support for IE last year, and ended support even earlier — in August 2021 — for Microsoft 365 apps
Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi
“It’s fair to say the promise of the web has far exceeded anything we might have imagined,” Microsoft corporate vice president for modern life, search and devices Yusuf Mehdi posted on LinkedIn. “The future is Microsoft Edge, and I couldn’t be prouder of the amazing work the teams across Microsoft have done to deliver such a fast and secure browser.”
Microsoft’s Sean Lyndersay
Sean Lyndersay, general manager for Microsoft Edge Enterprise on Wednesday elaborated and provided further details about migration. In a blog post, Lyndersay noted that IE could no longer match the evolution of today’s web. “Microsoft Edge is a faster, more secure and modern browser — the best browser for Windows—designed for today’s internet,” he wrote.
IE Mode in Edge Browser
Acknowledging the few instances that users may need the older browser, Lyndersay emphasized that Microsoft Edge includes IE mode. If Microsoft Edge detects a site may need IE mode in order to render, a “Reload in IE mode” icon will appear.
Lyndersay anticipates usage of IE mode will dwindle over time. “As more and more sites get updated to modern standards, users will need to use IE mode less and the modern rendering engine more,” he said. Partners who manage legacy websites that require IE can automate the process or launching Microsoft Edge in IE mode.
While Microsoft already removed IE from Windows 11, as of Wednesday it still is installed on Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, Edu and IoT. Lyndersay noted that Microsoft does not plan to immediately remove IE from those versions. But in the next several months, users will be redirected to Microsoft Edge. Ultimately, he said Microsoft will remove IE during a future Windows Update.
There are a few exceptions to where Microsoft is continuing support for IE. Those include supported Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) releases, all versions of Windows Server, Windows 10 China Government Edition, Windows 8.1 and Windows 7. Although Microsoft no longer offers mainstream support for Windows 7, those willing to pay for Extended Security Updates (ESUs) still have support through next year.
Lyndersay also noted that Microsoft will continue to support IE for developers reliant on Microsoft’s MSHTML platform, called Trident. Likewise, Microsoft will support it for those that still use COM controls on Windows.
IE’s Mark on Microsoft
Back when Microsoft launched IE in 1995, Netscape Navigator was the dominant web browser. The launch of Internet Explorer, bundled with Windows, quickly changed that. The backlash from rivals resulted in the famous U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit in the late 1990s claiming Microsoft was a monopoly. While the DoJ had signaled it wanted to split up Microsoft into multiple companies, Microsoft prevailed.
The dominance of IE would ultimately end on its own over a decade later when other browsers emerged. Many of the newer browsers, notably Google Chrome, were considered superior as Microsoft stopped investing in IE.
Now the rendering code in Chrome, called Chromium, is an open-source project. Microsoft incorporated Chromium into Edge two years ago. Nevertheless, Google Chrome is now the dominant web browser, which generated 65% of web sessions in May, according to Statcounter. Coming in second is Apple’s Safari browser at 19%. Microsoft Edge, which ranks third, only generated 4% of all web sessions in May.
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