Microsoft’s once widely-used Internet Explorer browser will reach end-of-life status from June 2022, with the firm no longer supporting the desktop application.
The legacy browser will also be absorbed into Microsoft Edge through an in-browser Internet Explorer mode, so organisations still reliant on the out-of-date service can continue to run critical applications in an emulated environment.
The number of users still relying on Internet Explorer is minimal compared with historic standards, with the soon-to-be legacy browser holding a 0.71% market share as of April 2021. Chrome, by contrast, holds a 64.47% market share, according to Stat Counter.
Microsoft launched the next generation of its web browser, Microsoft Edge, in 2015 as a replacement for Internet Explorer 11.
The company then launched the second iteration of its flagship browser in 2020, powered by the open source Chromium engine, while announcing plans to retire the ‘legacy’ Edge version. Chromium-based Edge is now the default browser for Windows 10, with the 2015 version removed as of last month.
“With Microsoft Edge, we provide a path to the web’s future while still respecting the web’s past,” said Microsoft developer Sean Lyndersay. “Change was necessary, but we didn’t want to leave reliable, still-functioning websites and applications behind.
“We’re here to help you transition to the more comprehensive browsing experience of Microsoft Edge and tell you a bit more about why we think it will address your needs, both at home and at work.”
Microsoft is encouraging its users to transition to Edge by promoting the wide range of benefits it over the Internet Explorer user experience. The use of a dual-engine, for example, supports both legacy and modern sites, while the Internet Explorer mode will allow users to continue using sites and apps that are only compatible with Internet Explorer.
The Edge browser is also more secure than Internet Explorer, offering a host of features including Microsoft Defender SmartScreen to block phishing attacks and malware infection attempts. While Internet Explorer 11 packaged security updates monthly, Edge can issue security patches for flaws within days.
Organisations using Internet Explorer are being encouraged to move to Microsoft Edge immediately, and continue to use their legacy applications through the dedicated Internet Explorer mode, which Microsoft will continue to support until 2029.
Internet Explorer was first released in 1995 as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95. The project was started by developer Thomas Reardon in 1994 who used source code from Spyglass’ Mosaic web browser.
The web browser underwent several transformations and redesigns through the years, before its final version, Internet Explorer 11, was released in 2013 alongside Windows 8. Development on the project was suspended in 2016 when all work was shifted over to Microsoft Edge, which launched in the previous year.
Microsoft announced in February that Internet Explorer would no longer be compatible with Microsoft 365 apps from August 2021. This follows Microsoft Teams dropping support for the browser in November last year.
Users have until June 2022 before the Internet Explorer desktop app will no longer be supported, or available to download.