The Death of Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer (IE) will be officially retired on June 15, 2022. Microsoft will altogether stop supporting and updating the pioneering web browser. As IE winds down, the question becomes, how does this affect businesses and existing software, and what will its full impact be?
Let the countdown begin. In less than a year, Internet Explorer (IE) will be officially retired, and Microsoft will altogether stop supporting and updating the pioneering web browser. While the familiar, nostalgia-inducing “e” may elicit fond memories, the reality is that for years Internet Explorer has slowly lost its luster as faster and superior browsers have surpassed it.
As is often the case with technology, it’s either modernize and scale, or become obsolete. Internet Explorer failed to do either – though it did have an impressive 26-year run. Microsoft is encouraging users to transition from Internet Explorer to Microsoft Edge ahead of IE’s retirement on June 15, 2022.
As IE winds down, the question becomes, how does this affect businesses and existing software, and what will its full impact be?
Impact on U.S. State and Federal Governments
While some may think of IE as an afterthought in an age of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, it is still being used by state and federal governments in the United States. These governmental organizations will arguably be the most impacted because of their decade-long integrations, and dependency upon, IE. Governmental agencies often require web apps to be primarily compatible with IE because it adheres to their existing corporate IT policies.
In the United States, governmental agencies prefer to stick with older technology not only because it’s familiar, but also because updating would be incredibly expensive. Between the sheer cost of the back-end work required to retrofit software to other browsers and the time necessary to train users on the updated system, it would cost Uncle Sam a pretty penny to switch to a newer, more secure browser. Now that IE is being retired, of course, the cost to update is a foregone conclusion – but at least the government has advance notice and can begin planning accordingly.
What it means for existing software dependent on IE
IE’s retirement means that businesses dependent on legacy, IE-compatible software need to start researching new software and platforms as soon as possible, if they haven’t already. Businesses that rely on Internet Explorer for their website, portal, app, or platform will be forced to shell out time and money to move their programs to a new browser or develop new software. The cost, timing, and inconvenience of the switch may be painful, but they outweigh the potential security risks and downsides of outdated tech if the transition is prolonged.
The truth is that for most businesses the retirement of IE will be beneficial in the long run, even if it’s time-consuming and costly. Older, outdated software is cumbersome and susceptible to threats and cyber-attacks, and can be a major liability for a business.
What are the positives?
Finally, with IE being laid to rest, companies will be spending less in the long term on their web infrastructures because they won’t be required to support an old technology stack, for which there are fewer and fewer workarounds.
While the time and money required to upgrade software can be tedious, the benefits drastically outweigh the negatives and highlight an extremely important point – the value of digital preservation.
The lesson to take from the IE retirement is that organizations need to realize that all software must be constantly scaled and upgraded. Software that isn’t improved and preserved to better serve a brand or its customers will inevitably become outdated and pose security risks. The retirement of Internet Explorer should serve as a reminder for organizations to continuously assess the longevity of the software they use to run their critical business operations, and constantly upgrade and improve when necessary. Information is only as safe as the tools used to preserve it. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, it’s necessary that software adapts and improves in lock-step, rather than stay stagnant. If not, it will likely be left behind and forgotten, just like Internet Explorer.