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Internet Explorer: To Support or Not to Support?

Microsoft published an article on their Internet Explorer blog yesterday that discussed their plans for supporting older versions of IE, and the web development community has been blowing up ever since.  I have seen many eager Interneters making loud claims to the tune of, “IE8 is dead!  We no longer have to support older versions of IE!”  However, it’s very easy to get caught upInternet Explorer Logo in the pandemonium or start bandwagon-ing and miss the actual facts of what is and will be happening according to Microsoft.  I want to clarify some things and set the record straight before we all hang up our Windows XP virtual machines.
Let’s look at the main quote from Microsoft’s article that sparked all this excitement:

After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates.

There are two big parts to that statement.  The first is that Microsoft is only stating that they plan to stop providing technical support and security updates for all versions of IE except the most current available for each of their operating systems.  The table below shows exactly which versions they mean.

Windows Platform Internet Explorer Version
Windows Vista SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows Server 2008 SP2 Internet Explorer 9
Windows 7 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows 8.1 Internet Explorer 11
Windows Server 2012 Internet Explorer 10
Windows Server 2012 R2 Internet Explorer 11

“But IE8 isn’t in that list anywhere!”  Correct, but that doesn’t mean IE8 is going away.  All this means is that Microsoft is not going to provide updates or support for IE8 anymore; it does not mean that people are going to magically stop using it.  The article also mentions that “Microsoft recommends enabling automatic updates to ensure an up-to-date computing experience”, but recommending that it happens does not mean that everyone will do it.  Yes, this is a big leap towards a day when developers do not need to worry about IE8 specific styles, but that day is not here yet.
Which brings me to the second big part of their statement: “After January 12, 2016”.  That’s a year and a half from now.  Microsoft is still going to provide support and updates for Internet Explorer 8 for another year and a half, and after that (as I mentioned previously), the browser will still be around.  All of those people that are using it now because it’s what they’ve always used, or because it will cost too much money for companies to update their employees’ computers…those people will still be using Internet Explorer 8.
I hope this helps to calm everyone who is hyping up the idea that we no longer need to support older versions of IE.  Don’t get too used to the idea just yet, because we’re still a long way off from that reality.

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Zach Handing

I'm a front-end developer working at Perficient Digital, and I'm passionate about HTML, CSS, and grilling chicken.

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