Internet Explorer: Still slowly going away

For the last who-knows-how-long, Microsoft Windows users have been opting for a third-party web browser in lieu of the dreaded Internet Explorer. They went through so many versions over the years, it was almost comical. Each time they released a new version, Microsoft would tout their modern browser. Each time, the masses would snicker, claiming that now they were only five years behind other browsers.

When Microsoft Edge was released, they were hoping to put the stigma of Internet Explorer behind them. No such luck, they were still behind the pack. It was like the largest software company in the world just couldn’t make a browser right. They were always playing catch-up.

I am not an expert in web browsers, I just use whatever is available most of the time. I am also not a developer. So I cannot speak to the new Edge browser built on the Chromium open-source engine. I use it, as I use other browsers alongside it. They all seem to do the job I need.

With that said, there are still companies using Internet Explorer. I do not know if there are companies forcing their staff to use older versions of IE, but there are certainly a lot of them on IE 11.

Microsoft announced this week a road map for their legacy browsers (See article). So:

  • November 30, 2020: Microsoft Teams will no longer support IE11
  • March 9, 2021: Microsoft Edge (Legacy) will stop receiving updates.
  • August 17, 2021: Microsost 365 will no longer support IE11.

They (Microsoft) want to assure you that just because they are no longer supporting the seven-year-old browser, you can continue to use it if you have custom web apps that still need it. IE11 is a component of the operating system, and as such follows the life cycle policy for the OS. As of this writing, the latest release of Windows 10 (Version 2004) still includes IE, so you would have at least two years of support left.

If your organization does not use custom web apps that require the legacy browser, there is no good reason to keep forcing it on your users. It would be like forcing children to take shots for a medication that is just as effective (if not much more so) in a very tasty candy option.

Microsoft claims that its new Edge web browser is the fastest and most secure on the market.

What does it mean that Microsoft 365 will no longer support IE11? It means that if you are using the web apps – web mail, or any of the other browser-based applications included in Microsoft 365, you will no longer be able to access them from the old browser. Additionally, if you have not upgraded to the new (Chromium-based) Microsoft Edge, you will not be able to access them from the old version either.

Why not? It goes beyond the security and performance implications. The product development team at Microsoft changed course, and rather than forcing that team to continue to support the old version for the foreseeable future, they have freed them (or at least will have on March 9) to focus exclusively on the new version.

Is the new Edge better than the old Edge? Are those better than Internet Explorer 11? Yes, and yes. Is the new Edge better than (or at least on par with) competitive browsers, such as the industry leading Google Chrome (see supporting data)? I am not the right man to comment on that. I will say that both this IT professional and many of my friends much prefer it over the older versions. That is not to say that we are not installing Chrome and Firefox when we install a new operating system, but for the first time in the twenty-five years since its first browser was released, Microsoft seems to have a browser that is competitive and worthy of the challenge.

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