UPDATED 20:09 EST / JUNE 15 2022


Microsoft will finally bury Internet Explorer for good in the coming months

Microsoft Corp. is finally retiring its ancient Internet Explorer browser, almost 27 years after it was first released.

The company said today it’s withdrawing official support for IE 11, the most recent version of the browser, in favor of Microsoft Edge. The move marks the end of an era, though it’s a long time coming. Microsoft has been encouraging users to abandon IE since the launch of Windows 10, which also introduced Edge, back in 2015.

For most people the end of IE won’t be an issue because they have long since abandoned the venerable old browser. Data from StatCounter shows that IE’s share of the browser market has plummeted in recent years and that it’s now used by less than 1% of internet users.

In an update on the Windows Experience Blog today, Microsoft Edge Enterprise General Manager Sean Lyndersay said the company will start rolling out a new prompt that redirects IE users to the Edge browser. The company intends to make the transition as seamless as possible, and promised that user’s favorites, passwords, browsing history and other data will be migrated to Edge. Then, in a few months, IE will be permanently disabled and removed via an update to the Windows operating system.

Even though Microsoft has been pushing users to ditch IE for years, some businesses that continue to rely on it may well be caught by surprise. Even today, there are many legacy web pages that will only render correctly with IE. Nikkei reported that hundreds of Japanese firms have been slow to respond to IE’s retirement. The Japan Pension Service’s official website must be viewed in IE, for example.

Across the world there are likely to be thousands of businesses and organizations still reliant on IE, explaining Microsoft’s decision to tread carefully with several month’s worth of prompts and redirects before it kills off the browser for good.

Microsoft does cater to these slow responders with the IE Mode in Microsoft Edge, and it promised it will continue to support this feature until at least 2029. The IE mode supports the older ActiveX controls that many legacy websites still use, meaning it can still render their webpages without change. So, spiritually at least, IE will continue to live on within this feature.

The retirement of IE will only affect users running Windows 10 or an even older version of the operating system. Windows 11 doesn’t even ship with IE.

Images: Microsoft

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