Microsoft has confirmed that it is to cease support for all but the newest version of its last-generation browser Internet Explorer in January next year, telling customers to upgrade prior to that date to keep receiving security patches.
Introduced to rival Netscape Navigator and the subject of numerous anti-competitive lawsuits, Internet Explorer's days are numbered. The launch of Windows 10 brought with it Microsoft Edge, a next-generation browser built on a new rendering engine which is selected by default - though corporate customers retain a copy of Internet Explorer 11 for legacy sites unsupported under the new engine. It's true that Edge brings with it plenty of new features, but those who have made the shift complain of a lack of support for things easily done in Internet Explorer - even ignoring the previously-mentioned compatibility issues with legacy sites and corporate intranets.
Time marches on, however, and Microsoft isn't going to keep the Internet Explorer line alive forever. In a recent announcement
, the company confirmed that it is to start the process of putting its once and former primary browser out to pasture with the retirement of all but the most recent release. From the 12th of January 2016, security patches will no longer be offered for versions prior to Internet Explorer 11.
For users on operating systems below Windows 7, that means upgrading both the browser and the operating system on which it runs - or switching to a third-party browser. For anyone on Windows 7 or higher, simply upgrading to Internet Explorer 11 is enough to continue receiving security updates - at least until Microsoft has improved the legacy compatibility of Edge enough to stop offering two distinct browser products to its users.
'The latest version of Internet Explorer will continue to follow the component policy, which means that it follows the support lifecycle and is supported for as long as the Windows operating system for which it is installed on,
' Microsoft has stated in defence of its shift. 'Focusing support on the latest version of Internet Explorer for a supported Windows operating system is in line with industry standards.