Microsoft Begins Pulling the Plug on Internet Explorer

Posted on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Microsoft have this week taken a big step towards phasing out their Internet Explorer (IE) web browser by encouraring users to switch to either its most recent IE 11 version or to the brand new Edge browser, and pulling the plug on support for versions 8, 9 and 10 of IE.

In a move which was first announced back in August of 2014, Microsoft released their final patch for that trio of IE versions on the 12th January and delivered it along with a so-called ‘End of Life’ notice.

The ‘End of Life’ Notice

Microsoft’s ‘End of Life’ notice which accompanied the final patch for IE 8, 9 and 10 spelt out exactly what the removal of support for those versions means for users in its first paragraph by stating that ‘only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical supports and security updates.’

What that means in practice therefore, is that any users still running the older versions of IE are likely to become increasingly vulnerable to security threats or hacks depending on the separate security software they may run.

Why have Microsoft Made the Move?

As mentioned above, Microsoft did announce that they would be pulling support for the older versions of IE back in the summer of 2014 and it is essentially all part of a wider plan to get users to transition onto their brand new Microsoft Edge browser. Edge was launched along with Windows 10 last year and is currently only available for Windows 10 devices but is very much viewed as the natural successor to IE.

The new browser was designed and built entirely separately from IE and is largely aimed at providing the speed and utility of browsing which many people grew to feel was lacking from IE. Edge after all is far more lightweight and speedy, and boasts added extras such as the integration of virtual assistant Cortana and a brand new ‘reading list’ function. Now that we have the facts and the motives nailed down then, the next most pertinent question is that of just who this change will affect.

Who’s Still Using IE?

There’s no doubt that IE has been something of a whipping boy when it comes to web browsers in recent years, with many users roundly lambasting it in comparison to competitors like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.

The fact is however that IE still ranks second or third in most usage share estimates and is believed to be used by an estimated 340 million users worldwide. Of those users too, tech site Computer World estimated that just under half are still running an older version and that many of those users are organisations or businesses. If one such business is yours therefore, you will want to know what you should do next.

What Should you Do?

Microsoft themselves in their ‘End of Life’ notice left little room for doubt when it comes to what users of IE 8, 9 or 10 need to do;

‘It means you should take action…security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware, helping to keep users and their data safer…so upgrading and staying current is important.’

Upgrading to either IE 11 or Edge therefore, is clearly the most sensible course of action and it should be nice and simple to do so as older IE versions will feature ‘nag’ messages encouraging upgrade from the 12th January onwards.