After a less-than-admirable, 26-year run, Microsoft is finally pulling the plug on Internet Explorer. Last week, the company announced it will officially end support for IE on June 15, 2022, after toying with the idea — and our emotions — for years.
Ridden with speed, reliability, and performance issues, on top of countless, deeply problematic security problems, the once most-used web browser has been on a downward trajectory over the last two decades. Its share of the browser market fell below the 50% threshold in 2010 and now sits at 5%, according to user tracker NetMarketShare. Google Chrome is now in a commanding lead at 69% market share.
The Glory Days of Internet Explorer
After its debut in 1995 as part of Windows 95, Internet Explorer was a hit. It came pre-installed with every Windows device, successfully killing off Netscape Navigator and stealing a virtual monopoly by the early 2000s. At its peak in 2002, it dominated 95% of the browser market.
Unfortunately, this was the end of that stellar reputation. As Microsoft failed to innovate, IE became synonymous with security issues, bugs, and outdated technology. And frustrated customers were quick to move on to something else. This deserving bad rap was also largely due to Microsoft bundling IE into its operating system while simultaneously flouting best practices for browser development and then failing to distribute patches quickly.
In 2006, Microsoft finally released IE7, but it was too late to say the least. Firefox and then Chrome were already set up to take over. Even more recently as Chrome delivered updates whenever necessary, Microsoft continued to only update IE about once a month.
So What’s Next?
Microsoft has actually been turning its back on the browser for many of its own products over the last five years, cutting off support for various versions. They’ve also been actively trying to nudge its users toward Edge — the alternative introduced in Windows 10 — calling it the “trusted web companion” for loyal IE fans (whoever they are).
And many of these people will likely continue to use IE, even after it’s killed. Which cybersecurity strategists warn is definitely not the best idea, predicting that these users will be active targets for the evolving tactics of threat actors. In other words, active removal of the browser is your safest bet.
While many of us won’t be sad to see it go, we can’t say our official goodbyes just yet. Microsoft will actually continue to support some versions of IE for a little longer, including Server Internet Explorer 11 and the IE used in Microsoft’s Windows 10 enterprise LTSC program (Long-Term Servicing Channel) until next year.