What the End of Internet Explorer Means for Your Business
The sun has finally set on Internet Explorer. Microsoft officially retired the browser on June 15, 2022, to the elation and frustration of many. Microsoft first announced IE’s pending retirement back in May of 2021. Though IE represents a small fraction of internet users in the U.S., (about 0.85%), the pivot to other browsers may prove more complicated than expected. IE has had a tremendous influence on the internet we use today, and the impact of its legacy will be felt for years – for better or worse. As IE is abandoned, new security threats will arise, and users won’t receive support from Microsoft in such cases. Fortunately, Microsoft has made it a relatively straightforward process to transition to their updated browser: Microsoft Edge.
Here’s What Your Business Needs to Know About the End of Internet Explorer:
Why Did Microsoft Retire Internet Explorer?
To better understand IE’s retirement, we must first take a brief journey to the recent past. Internet Explorer was Microsoft’s original web browser and has been included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems since 1995. Most companies who got an early start on the internet (think early 2000’s) created systems and software to work in conjunction with IE. In fact, by 2004, IE commanded 95% of the browser market.
IE also found a niche in certain fields. Healthcare, government, and manufacturing organizations were early adopters because older technologies in these fields were highly specialized, though they often didn’t receive frequent updates (think of an MRI machine built in 2005 that’s been grinding away for years on old software).
In other cases, businesses didn’t have a strong reason to move away from IE (although many superior browsers have emerged since 1995) or didn’t have the internal staff to deploy a successful migration. There has also been a proliferation of webpages and applications that use old IE standards, rather than adopting updated browser standards. Microsoft has referred to this process as an “easy button” that has resulted in sufficient “technical debt” for businesses across the country.
Why Did Internet Explorer Lose Market Share?
Internet Explorer has experienced a slow decline since the early aughts. The browser lost out to emerging competitors and IE failed to adhere to World Wide Web Consortium guidelines resulting in poor user experience. IE was increasingly incompatible with other browsers and had a number of high-profile security and UX issues over the years. The rise of mobile web browsing sealed the deal. Nowadays developers don’t optimize sites for IE, and old sites that are optimized for IE don’t work well on modern browsers. With the launch of Edge – a secure and dynamic Windows browser - Microsoft decided the best way to handle these problems was to end Internet Explorer for good.
Internet Explorer Is Now a Security Risk to Your Business
If there was ever a time to migrate to a new browser – now would be it. Although users can access IE until 2029, Microsoft’s blog states, “If you encounter issues while accessing Microsoft 365 apps and services from IE11 after August 17, 2021, support will be unavailable. Additionally, you should expect no new features and that your daily usage experience could get progressively worse over time until the apps and services are disconnected.” This means that Microsoft won’t provide security patches in case of an attack (usually malware or phishing attacks). The lack of regular updates leaves your data vulnerable to more attacks in the future.
You’re also risking the productivity of your employees. The incompatibility between modern browsers and Internet Explorer means employees often must work in multiple systems if they’re still using legacy content on IE. Combine the tedious back-and-forth with slow loading speeds and outdated browser features, and you’ll notice a serious detriment to your workforce.
What’s the Best Browser for Your Business?
Your organization should begin the process of migrating to a new browser. This may mean dealing with legacy applications, incompatible webpages, and other IT updates - but the security risks greatly outweigh the comfort of a familiar web platform. There are several browsers to choose from, and each has unique features that can help your business thrive online, securely.
- Microsoft Edge - Edge is Microsoft’s newest web browser. Edge features “Internet Explorer Mode,” which supports both legacy and modern websites, providing access to websites and applications that still require Internet Explorer.
- Microsoft ensures heightened security in Edge: “While Internet Explorer 11 packaged security updates monthly, Microsoft Edge can issue security patches for immediate vulnerabilities within days, if not hours.”
- Microsoft even promises to help businesses update sites and applications that end up being incompatible after the switch: “...if customers’ web apps and sites work on IE 11, supported versions of Google Chrome, or any version of Microsoft Edge (including Microsoft Edge Legacy), those web apps and sites should work on the new Microsoft Edge. If not, they can contact App Assure for remediation support.”
- Google Chrome - Google Chrome is widely beloved, capturing over half of all internet users as of May 2022. A migration from IE to Chrome may be more involved than a migration to Edge, as Chrome does not offer the same compatibility as Edge’s Internet Explorer mode. Chrome does, however, offer extensive built-in malware and historically speedier updates than Edge, as well as a widely enjoyed mobile application.
- Safari - Safari is Apple’s default browser. Migrating from IE to Safari may present similar challenges to those arising in a migration to Chrome. However, Chrome and Safari, among others, have features that make them winners for many businesses, so it may be worth some investigating to see what browser will work best for your specific needs.
If your business uses Internet Explorer and is ready to migrate to a new browser, there are several steps you should take for a successful migration. Microsoft has an in-depth guide with clear steps to get your business running on Edge. Chrome, Safari, and Firefox have their own guides to migrating to their browsers. This could also be a suitable time to look for an IT consulting firm like iCorps to either assist your in-house IT team or to outsource the project entirely. Reach out for a free consultation today!