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20 Apr 21

Why Internet Explorer Is No Longer Used As a Browser

Irwin Hau | Web Development

The first of its kind, this digital relic was released in August 1995. By 2003 Internet Explorer had swept across the globe and had the lion’s share with 95% of the market in its grasp. It was without a doubt the most widely used web browser. 

It was simple to use, with sustained compatibility for older versions, one of its key differentiators.This would also eventually lead to its downfall. As new versions were rolled out, older version standards were also somewhat maintained so that the legacy apps built in them could still run. 

The Official End of Life Date for Internet Explorer

Their priorities have shifted to developing Microsoft Edge as a browser competitive to compete in today’s digital market. Lead developer of Microsoft made an official announcement stating that Internet Explorer 11 will only be supported until Windows 10 reaches its end of life in August 2021. 

Reasons Internet Explorer Declined As a Browser

Updates are far and few in between

In fact the Microsoft developers officially announced that they will only make small updates to keep it running at the ‘bare minimum of functionality’. If you’re familiar with the European frontier of web design abundant with  the fluid effects and micro-transitions, they are unfortunately incompatible with Internet Explorer. 

Most apps and big websites these days will not work on Internet Explorer as their modern Javascript code is incompatible. Most developers and brands understand that it is not worth the time or hassle to try and make a website compatible with IE, as this budget could be better spent into a fancier website. 

According to NetMarketShare, less than 10% of desktop web traffic comes from Internet Explorer, making up less than 3% of all web traffic across all devices. Makes sense to gear development time to catering for the significant portion of users, rather than the minority. 

Microsoft’s security is an all-time low and easily exploited

They do not support SSL certificates, and do not plan to, exposing users to cryptomining scripts and social trackers. What rubs more salt on the wound is that bugs that are found are fixed on a schedule, and not right away. This means that Internet Explorer users can remain vulnerable to known bugs which are fixed months later. 

When competitors rose from the surface (Mozilla Firefox in 2004, and Google Chrome in 2008), they took on a much different approach. Google and Mozilla Firefox pay people to report and find browser bugs, to continually improve the security of their applications. In one decade alone, Google Chrome had been updated 70 times, in comparison to Internet Explorer’s measly 4 updates.

Why Is Microsoft Still Keeping Internet Explorer Around?

Microsoft understands many companies that built applications in the 90s and 00s are still heavily relying on Internet Explorer for their legacy applications. It stands today as a compatibility solution for legacy apps rather than a browser of choice, holding out until companies can modernise their enterprise systems. 

It’s an end of era for Internet Explorer, but don’t worry, Microsoft is still around. Refocusing its attention in developing enterprise systems and delivering its Edge browser with more compatibility to suit the constantly-evolving needs of modern-day web users, Microsoft has not yet left the building.

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