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Good News? Microsoft to Drop Support for old versions of IE

Internet Explorer icon with angel wings and a halo.

Mark your calendar that’s going to be a big day.  In case you haven’t heard yet that’s the day Microsoft is cutting support for all older versions of Internet Explorer.

Now if you’re saying, “well my beloved Windows XP doesn’t run the latest version of Internet Explorer, that’s not fair!” I have a bone to pick with you.

First of all welcome to the next decade, it’s time for you to stop using Windows XP. IE8, the latest version you can use on XP, is being dropped by Microsoft. But it’s nice of you to join the rest of the technological world, enjoy your stay. You might just like it here.

To be fair, Microsoft is still supporting the latest version of IE for each of the operating systems. So Vista can still run IE9 with support, Windows Server 2012 can use IE 10 with support etc. They’re not forcing anyone into Windows 8 (except Windows XP users who they have already pulled support for). Microsoft even made a whole list of operating systems and their supported web browsers:

Windows Platform Internet Explorer Version
Windows Vista SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows Server 2008 SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows 7 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows 8.1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2012 Internet Explorer 10
Windows Server 2012 R2 Internet Explorer 11

As I mentioned above this is another move by Microsoft to get people off Windows XP. This reflects Microsoft’s new priorities of keeping users up-to-date with the latest versions of their software, as well as being more developer friendly. I’ll get more into that below.

Now if you’re rolling your face on your keyboard reading this news you’re not alone. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, Windows XP is still used on an estimated 24% of all desktops. This switch off of XP and IE8 was always going to happen though, and I support it.

Chrome and Firefox both have a vast majority of their users on the newest version of their browsers. Internet Explorer is the only one that has users spread out over their different versions. This is odd, as the newest version of Internet Explorer has more features and is far more secure than older versions.

So really by dropping support for the older versions they’re pushing people to move forward onto a better product. I would understand resistance to this if it cost money to upgrade, but it doesn’t. It’s free. So that’s the first reason, added features as well as increased security – for free.

The second reason is for web developers. Right now they have to make different versions of their web apps for the older IEs. It’s a bit silly that web developers have to make everything they do compatible with ancient technology, and yet because of the mass use of the older versions they are forced to. So by pushing users to the new version they are helping out all of the web developers out there as well.

So that’s two extremely good reasons for dropping support. Not even mentioning the internal business motivations behind this, such as lowering support costs for themselves. If you’re still harboring ill-will towards Microsoft, let me convince you otherwise because they’ve made this transition extremely easy for even the least tech-savvy among us.

They’ve created something called enterprise mode, which gives the new Internet Explorers backwards compatibility. Legacy web apps can still be used on the new versions, so nothing will really change about your use of IE. Also Microsoft has decided to give a deadline of January 12th 2016. That’s far more than enough time for everyone to upgrade, and they really didn’t have to give that to us.

That’s really what it comes down to. Microsoft didn’t have to do this, and yet they’ve gone through all the trouble to make this transition as painless as possible. They’ve literally created a table that tells everyone exactly what version they need to upgrade to. Microsoft is literally trying to help improve all of their user’s experiences, at no cost to anyone but themselves..

I’m not the biggest fan of Microsoft, but this was a move that had to be made. As with everything there will be people who oppose change, but this is the 21st century. Technology doubles every 18 months (Moore’s law) and to be using a web browser that was released half a decade ago (looking at you IE8) just doesn’t make sense anymore.

So the message from Microsoft is clear. If you’re a user of IE, or a business still using XP get with the times by 2016, because it just won’t be worth the security risks after that.

By: Michael Kachaniwsky

Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu
Sai Kit Chu is a Product Manager with CurrentWare. He enjoys helping businesses improve their employee productivity & data loss prevention efforts through the deployment of the CurrentWare solutions.