If you are one of the 10 people on the planet who absolutely… Loves Microsoft’s venerable Internet Explorer browser, you’d better spend quality time with it while you still can – Microsoft is shutting down the browser on June 15, 2022.
The much-hated browser clung tenaciously to the Windows operating system, thanks in large part to a never-ending supply of companies creating custom websites and web interfaces using only IE functionality, because those companies were unwilling to rewrite them for a more modern web environment. But Microsoft believes the new Chromium-based Edge has finally licked the issue of IE compatibility once and for all:
Not only is Microsoft Edge a faster, more secure, and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, but it can also address a key concern: compatibility for older, outdated websites and applications. Microsoft Edge has built in Internet Explorer mode (“IE mode”) so that you can access those outdated Internet Explorer-based websites and applications directly from Microsoft Edge.
Retirement doesn’t yet affect the entire spectrum of Microsoft operating systems – IE11 will disappear from the standard Windows 10 editions but will live on (for now) in Windows 10 LTSC and in all current versions of Windows Server.
Internet Explorer is dead, but Internet Explorer mode is not
Microsoft describes the new Edge as a dual-engine advantage. Proprietary IE-only websites that rely on legacy ActiveX controls – Java, Silverlight, Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), etc. – cannot function properly on the modern Chromium-derived engine, but they do work and continue to be supported under the proprietary legacy MSHTML rendering engine used in IE compatibility mode.
Assuming Microsoft is right, of course — that the entire global collection of websites, web apps, and web interfaces that rely on Internet Explorer function properly under Edge’s IE compatibility mode — getting rid of the old codebase solves several problems. Behind the scenes, that’s about five million lines of code that Microsoft gets to stop servicing.
IT managers no longer have to worry about users who need IE for banking applications or the like, “getting lazy” and also using the older, less secure, more problematic browser for normal, everyday browsing. In larger environments, administrators can also use the IE mode configuration tool to generate a site list that automatically switches Edge in and out of IE mode as needed for the specific sites the organization needs.
In addition to stronger inherent security thanks to a more modern codebase, Edge can respond much more quickly to new threats: IE11 gets monthly security updates in a package, while Edge can release patches aimed directly at breaking vulnerabilities as they occur. In some cases, this difference can mean that a new threat needs to be addressed and stopped within hours rather than weeks.
Internet Explorer mode in the new Microsoft Edge will be supported until at least 2029 and possibly beyond. For more information, check out Microsoft’s IE Mode portal and the IE11 retirement FAQ.