Microsoft To Retire Old Versions of Internet Explorer

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The logo of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 9 is displayed on a computer monitor in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Microsoft released a speedier version of its Internet Explorer browser that adds privacy controls and video features, a bid to regain market share lost to Firefox and Google Inc.'s Chrome. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If you’re one of the dwindling numbers of people who still use Internet Explorer as your Web browser — especially if it’s an older version — you’d better get ready to update it. Microsoft announced that it will end support for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 starting next week.

The final patch for those versions will be released on January 12 and it will come with update notices reminding users to upgrade to the current version, Internet Explorer 11. A comparable version of that browser, Microsoft Edge, is compatible with the company’s latest operating system, Windows 10.

Along with the upgrade notification, the patch will include the browsers’ final security patches. While retired versions of Internet Explorer will continue to function as before, users who don’t upgrade will no longer be protected from malware once those patches expire.

Problem Fragmentation

Most customers are already using the latest version of Internet Explorer for their Windows operating systems, Microsoft said. But the company pointed to “fragmentation across the install base which poses problems for Web developers and support staff.” Microsoft said upgrading to Internet Explorer 11 would give users increased performance, improved security, better backward compatibility and support for modern Web technologies.

The so-called “end of life” notification to Internet Explorer users will contain basic instructions on how to upgrade. However, Microsoft added that enterprise customers with more than 500 employees can contact the company directly for help in deploying updated versions of Edge or the latest Internet Explorer. Similar to the incentive for individual users, Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, which was released in April, offers better backward compatibility and lets users run many legacy Web applications once they upgrade to the more modern browsers.

Individual users who have Automatic Updates turned on almost certainly have received automatic upgrades to Internet Explorer 11. That feature can be engaged by clicking the Check for Updates button on the Windows Update portion of the control panel. Small businesses can seek help in upgrading from a Microsoft certified partner.

Shrinking Share

According to NetMarketShare, about one-fifth of Internet users are still running older versions of Internet Explorer. About a quarter of users are running the latest version.

With competition from Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, usage of Internet Explorer among Windows computer owners has been dropping. For many years, however, IE sat squarely at the top of the browser heap. But Microsoft was slow to ad features such as extensions and tabs, opening the door to alternatives.

NetMarketShare said that as of 2014, Internet Explorer was still being used on about 58 percent of desktop browsers. But that figure was down about 10 percentage points while deployment of Chrome had doubled to 32 percent during the same period, according to the numbers from December 2015.