Starting today, Microsoft announced that it will stop supporting Internet Explorer (IE) versions 7, 8, 9, and 10. Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer in all Windows versions starting in 1995, so it came as surprise to many when they announced that IE 11 would be the last version of the famous browser. Internet Explorer was so popular that 95% percent of all browser users in 2002 and 2003 used it.
Back in March, Microsoft launched it's new browser, Edge, which is why it's quickly abandoning the hotly debated Internet Explorer. Currently, Edge only runs on Windows 10 so older Windows users can't take advantage of the new browser. To help support these users, Microsoft says that they will continue to support only the latest version of Internet Explorer that an operating system can run. Eventually, this will phase out Internet Explorer as the last remaining users upgrade their Windows machines.
How do I know if my IE version is supported?
Microsoft won’t update anything older than Internet Explorer 9 on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, Internet Explorer 10 on Windows Server 2012, and Internet Explorer 11 on Windows 7, Windows 8, and those versions of Windows Server that can run it. Remember, Microsoft is actively trying to phase out IE, so you should start thinking about switching to a different browser (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, etc). As of November 2015, Chrome leads in popularity with 67%, followed by Firefox at 19%, and Safari at 4%. Check W3Schools if you want to check the latest stats.
You should always try to have the newest version of any software or have it patched for security reasons. If you're running a version of IE that is not supported in the list above, you should update it immediately. If you're still confused as to what you should be doing, contact your IT department or an IT professional to walk you through the process. Currently you're vulnerable to security threats and it will continue to get significantly worse overtime. You might as well bite the bullet and get it over with.
Why is the Internet rejoicing?
Internet Explorer has been infamous for not hearing to the guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium, the organization that establishes standards for web technologies. Many websites require a separate file of custom code to make sure that the site appears properly in Internet Explorer. This has caused many an hour of heartbreak amongst web designers and developers alike as they struggled to figure out why their code isn't working while it appears fine in other browsers. The amount of hours required to create this custom code are so large that most of them charge clients an extra amount for Internet Explorer compatibility (usually quite a lot). I know many designers who outright refuse to ensure that their product will appear properly or work on Internet Explorer.
I'm not running IE, should I still care?
There are very few active users out there relying on these versions of Internet Explorer, BUT they are almost all large corporations. Upgrading software is a huge expense for enterprise-level companies because they must purchase a license for each individual employee. Each time they install a piece of software, the IT department must test to see if it's compatible with all other necessary software (upgrading them too if needed) and run security tests. This is a long and expensive process, so it's not surprising companies don't do it frequently. Many only update when they absolutely have to.
As a result, many of these companies are running outdated versions of Windows and Internet explorer. If your business does not directly interact with these companies, then you probably don't need to worry about it. However, if your company does do lots of business with these enterprise-level corporations, you should start to figure out how this will affect your business and strategize possible solutions.
What does this mean for the future?
This move by Microsoft only means more beautiful Internet and cooler technology being adopted earlier. Internet Explorer was widely used that it actually held the progress of Internet technology back by several years. This will likely mean that Internet trends will occur more frequently and fall of favor faster than at current rates. Look at other design-related industries such as fashion or interior decor and you'll see what I'm talking about. This will likely mean that your company will be updating its website more frequently but also allow greater flexibility and integration of new technologies into your website that will benefit your business. I see increasing innovation in the web sector, so who knows what technologies will come in the future that can help you and your business.
All in all, I'm excited to see what the future will bring. It's about to get a lot more colorful.