Home Browsers Microsoft sets IE’s date with death — kind of

Microsoft sets IE’s date with death — kind of

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Microsoft has spelled out its plans to retire the venerable Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) browser from widespread use in a little over a year.

“The future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” asserted Sean Lyndersay, an Edge program manager, asserted in a May 19 post to a company blog. “With Microsoft Edge capable of assuming this responsibility [of accessing IE-based sites and apps] … the Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10.”

The forced retirement of IE11 — the only version still supported — will not be all-inclusive, as several editions of Windows, including 10’s Long-term Support Channel (LTSC) and Windows Server, will be spared from the directive. Likewise, Microsoft will continue to secure IE’s Trident rendering engine, which is embedded in Windows and crucial to the running of Edge’s IE mode.

Death by a thousand cuts

If it seems Microsoft has been killing IE for years, well, it has. The Redmond, Wash. developer put IE on life support more than five years ago, when it halted development of the browser in early 2016. And once Microsoft released a reworked Edge, the one built atop technologies from the Google-dominated Chromium project, it was only a matter of time before the company pulled that support plug.

Even so, IE11 will suffer a long, lingering death. June 14, 2022 — 12 months and change away — won’t be the end of the browser by any means.

Because Microsoft had previously promised customers that IE11 would be supported as part of the three Windows 10 LTSC versions released so far (the first two, 2105 LTSB and 2106 LTSB, went by Long-term Support Branch) the end-of-support order won’t be applied to them. That’s not to say the separate IE11 application will survive that long. (Windows 10 2019 LTSC, for instance, has support until January 2029, while 2015 LTSB and 2016 LTSB will be supported until October 2025 and October 2026, respectively.) Microsoft alluded to as much when it said that the LTSB/LSTC versions were “out of scope at the time of this announcement” (emphasis added) of the June 15, 2022, date.

Even IE11 running on Windows 7 will be supported longer than next June. Commercial customers who pay for the third year of Extended Security Updates (ESUs) will receive support for IE through the end of that contract, or until Jan. 10, 2023.

IE mode, Edge’s secret weapon

What’s most important to enterprises is that the June 2022 support deadline can be sidestepped by using Edge and its IE mode; that last calls up designated sites using IE’s Trident rather than Edge’s now-native Chromium. (When Lyndersay referred to “the future of Internet Explorer is in Microsoft Edge” (emphasis added, he was referring to IE mode.)

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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