Internet Explorer Has Started Its Ascent to the Big Digital Pasture in the Sky

Internet Explorer Has Started Its Ascent to the Big Digital Pasture in the Sky
Microsoft's new Edge browser. (Screenshot: Microsoft)

My dad had a cute nickname for Internet Explorer: “Internet Exploder,” an expression of disdain for the browser that he refused to use, even though it was the preferred option for vast majority of people in late ‘90s and early 2000s. He liked the MSN Explorer browser, but I never understood why. Maybe it was the bubbly icons that took up an unnecessary amount of space at the top. (No, that definitely wasn’t it.) Or maybe he just liked the ease of surfing the web through the same program you used to connect to the internet.

In any case, he might have been happy to learn that Microsoft has started ending some support for his old nemesis, Internet Explorer 11.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced its timeline for that, with support for Internet Explorer coming to an end first in Microsoft teams on November 30, 2020. Following that, Microsoft Edge Legacy reaches its end of life on March 9, 2021, and all Microsoft 365 apps will completely stop supporting Internet Explorer on August 17, 2021. After those dates, “customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11. For degraded experiences, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service via IE 11,” said Microsoft in its blog.

Microsoft made clear that Internet Explorer wasn’t totally going away, since its “customers’ own legacy IE 11 apps and investments will continue to work.” Edge does have an Internet Explorer mode that lets you use Internet Explorer from inside the Edge browser. Essentially, Edge has the ability to run two different engines, Chromium and Trident, which could be beneficial to anyone who still uses Internet Explorer — a whopping 2.76% globally according to Stat Counter.

Trident has technically been discontinued since Microsoft used its source code to create EdgeHTML, which powers Edge Legacy, but Internet Explorer 11 still uses Trident, and as I previously mentioned Edge uses Chromium. If all that sounds needlessly confusing, then it’s probably a good thing that Microsoft is starting to simplify and consolidate its browsers around Edge.

All of its browsers still support modern web standards like HTML5, but as Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Windows said when the company announced it was making a Chromium-based browser, Edge would “create better web compatibility” for customers and “less fragmentation of the web for all web developers.” Today, Edge feels very similar to Google Chrome, since they both use the same engine. Edge can support Chrome browser extensions, too. Edge is now automatically installed with Windows 10, which replaces Edge Legacy.

Overall, this move is a larger push by Microsoft to integrate its Chromium-based Edge browser into M365 apps — and I’m not totally sure how my dad would feel about it today. My dad was the kind of guy who wanted things to be as easy as possible, so he probably liked MSN Explorer because he could access his email and whatever else from the push of an icon at the top of the browser. In principal he’d probably cheer on simplifying browsers around a single framework too. But mostly, I think he’d be glad to know that Internet Exploder’s days are numbered.