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Why is even Microsoft begging you to stop using Internet Explorer?

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Begging letter: please get your cat pics in another browser

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Internet Explorer is still the second most used desktop web browser in the world. That’s astonishing considering that no new version of the browser has been released since 2013 – fully six years.

Why does the defunct browser remain so popular? Two main reasons. First,
for many years it was the default browser in Windows and there’s still an awful lot of old Windows PCs in the world.

Second, because many companies wrote web apps specifically for Internet Explorer. Those apps don’t work well – if at all – in other browsers, and so companies keep Internet Explorer installed on company PCs so that staff can continue to use these so-called ‘legacy apps’.

It’s certainly not because Internet Explorer is any good.

Why does Microsoft want people to stop using Internet Explorer?

Because it’s a massive security risk. Not so much if you’re running the latest version of the browser – Internet Explorer 11 – which is still receiving security updates at the time of writing.

The risk comes for those still using versions as ancient as Internet Explorer 6 (launched way back in 2008), because that’s the last version of the browser that works with many of those legacy web apps. According to NetMarketShare, 0.19% of the world are still using Internet Explorer 6, 0.15% are on Internet Explorer 7, and 0.96% are running Internet Explorer 8. That may sound like tiny fractions, but means millions of computers are still running this outdated browser.

These browsers are a huge security risk, because they stopped receiving security updates years ago. They are exposed to almost any new web threat and will be specifically targeted by others.

What’s more, those old browsers won’t work with many of today’s websites as they are based on new web standards.

As Microsoft’s Chris Jackson explains in a blog post posted this week, Internet Explorer isn’t really a web browser these days, more of a “compatibility solution” to allow companies still clinging to those old web apps to still use them.

“We’re not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren’t testing for Internet Explorer these days,” Jackson explains. “They’re testing on modern browsers.”

“As new apps are coming out with greater frequency, what we want to help you do is avoid having to miss out on a progressively larger portion of the web!”

When even the company that wrote Internet Explorer is telling you to stop using it, you know the game is up.

Now read this: Find out why Vivaldi is our recommended web browser

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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