Internet Explorer (IE) has been the default web browser on Windows for over 25 years, but its dominance is ending. Microsoft recently announced that IE 11 will no longer be supported after June 15, 2022, which essentially marks the end of life for the iconic browser.
This transition from IE holds significant implications for enterprises and everyday users. Here is an in-depth look at what the end of life means for IE, why Microsoft is pulling the plug now, and what the future looks like for web browsing in a post-IE world.
The Rise and Fall of Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer debuted in 1995 and quickly rose to prominence during the first browser war against Netscape Navigator. By 2002, IE peaked at 96% market share as the world’s most widely used browser. However, over the next decade, IE stagnated as competitors like Firefox and Chrome eroded its dominance.
|Internet Explorer Market Share
As the table above shows, Internet Explorer’s market share has steadily declined over the past 20 years. Microsoft failed to keep pace with innovation and changing web standards, causing users to abandon IE in favor of faster and more secure browsers like Chrome.
The final nail in the coffin came in 2015 when Microsoft released Edge to replace IE as the default browser on Windows. Edge adopted the same Chromium engine used by Google Chrome for improved web compatibility and performance. With its fate sealed, Microsoft continued supporting IE 11 for enterprise compatibility but invested in Edge as the browser of the future.
Why Internet Explorer Reached End of Life
Microsoft ended support for IE 11 because maintaining the aging browser was no longer practical or beneficial for the company and users.
Lack of Adoption
Few people use IE today – less than 5% of desktop users worldwide. Supporting a browser with such dismal adoption would waste Microsoft’s resources.
Running an outdated browser like IE 11 poses major security risks. IE does not receive new security patches or support the latest web standards. This makes PCs vulnerable to cyber attacks when using IE to browse the web.
Websites and apps are increasingly optimized for modern browsers like Chrome and Edge. IE’s outdated engine often creates compatibility issues that break site functionality.
Microsoft wants to push users towards adopting its newer Edge browser rather than sticking with IE. Ending support for IE 11 helps encourage this transition.
By ending IE 11 support, Microsoft can better focus its resources on Edge and ensure users have a safer, faster, and more compatible web browsing experience. The days of IE dominating the internet are over.
What IE 11 End of Life Means for Enterprises
The IE 11 end-of-life poses significant implications for enterprises that rely on legacy apps optimized for the classic browser. While mainstream consumers migrated away from IE long ago, many business software tools were designed specifically for IE and required the legacy browser to function correctly.
According to Microsoft, about 1,162 Windows web apps and 414 sites still need IE today. Enterprises have a few options to deal with IE 11 reaching the end of its life:
- TransitionCRITICAL apps to Edge IE mode – Edge includes an IE mode that mimics the IE 11 engine for compatibility with old sites. Enterprises should test their internal web apps in IE mode and transition critical tools before IE 11 is deprecated.
- Update sites and apps to support modern browsers – For non-essential tools, updating to work correctly on modern Chromium browsers is ideal for long-term compatibility and security.
- Extend IE 11 support through Custom Support contracts – Large organizations can pay Microsoft for dedicated Custom Support plans to receive critical IE 11 security updates for a few years beyond the end of life.
- Maintain legacy systems isolated from the internet – Some enterprises may continue using IE 11 apps on locked-down systems without internet access to minimize security risks.
Proper planning and testing will be crucial over the next year as enterprises shift away from relying on IE before the June 2022 cutoff.
The Future of Web Browsing After Internet Explorer
Microsoft Edge is the obvious heir apparent to Internet Explorer as the new default browser on Windows. Like Chrome, Edge uses the open-source Chromium browser engine and auto-updates frequently to bring users the latest features and security fixes.
But the web browsing landscape looks much different than IE’s heyday in the early 2000s. Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome have significant desktop market share. On mobile, Safari dominates on iOS, while Chrome is the most popular cross-platform browser.
In the post-Internet Explorer era, web browsers are competing fiercely to attract users by innovating and adding new capabilities like:
- Built-in productivity tools
- Integrations with other apps and services
- AI-driven features like automatic translating
- Cross-device syncing
- Biometric authentication
- Password managers
- Streamlined user interfaces
Web developers will also have a more accessible time building sites compatible across all major browsers now that they share a standard Chromium engine. This interoperability should allow browsers to compete on unique value-added features rather than essential compatibility.
While IE 11’s end of life-closes the book on a legendary browser, users today have faster and more innovative choices than ever for accessing the web. The competition spurred by IE’s decline will create a more vibrant web ecosystem that enhances the browsing experience.
Preparing Personal and Business Devices for Life After Internet Explorer
With IE 11’s end of life in June 2022, individual users and business IT departments must start preparing their Windows devices and networks for a post-IE world. Here are some tips:
For personal users:
- Migrate browsing habits to a modern browser like Edge, Chrome, or Firefox
- Uninstall IE 11 to prevent accidentally using it.
- Be vigilant about software insisting on opening IE
- Update any old plugins like Java that may rely on IE
- Take inventory of all internal web apps and test with Edge IE mode
- Phase out IE-dependent apps and upgrade to web standards where possible
- Set all Windows devices to make Edge the new default browser
- Remove IE 11 from employee computers to prevent security risks
- Consider a Custom Support contract for IE 11 if necessary
Transitioning away from the dated Internet Explorer browser will ensure a smooth end-of-life transition before Microsoft ends support in mid-2022. Both individual and business users can look forward to faster, more innovative, and more secure web browsing experiences once they complete this upgrade process.
The end of Internet Explorer signifies the closing of a historic chapter in the evolution of web browsers. IE helped introduce the internet to the masses in the 1990s and 00s but ultimately failed to keep pace with the rapid innovation cycle of the web.