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The Almost-End of Internet Explorer

The Almost-End of Internet Explorer

25 November 2020

Microsoft is finally closing the book on Internet Explorer. Sort of. Last month, the company announced their timeline for the end of support for the browser—it won’t be completely abandoned until August 17th, 2021. In the interim, support for and integration with other Microsoft products will slowly wind down. The first significant milestone will come on November 30th of this year, when Teams will officially cease to support the final iteration of Internet Explorer, IE11. Then, on August 17th, of next year, all remaining Microsoft 365 apps will end IE11 support and one of the last icons of the early Internet will be gone.

Except that that isn’t really the case. Microsoft’s announcement made clear that they understand the browser’s value to, and continued use in, certain business sectors. The new Chromium-based Edge browser they released earlier this year will continue to feature an “Internet Explorer mode” that allows legacy apps running on previous architecture to continue to function within Edge. Their intent, it seems, is to tout the new Edge as a comprehensive solution for those businesses and organizations who use both 365 products and legacy apps.

This is, without a doubt, the likely “beginning of the end” for Internet Explorer. Barring some sort of miraculous revival by the community or renewed interest from Microsoft, Internet Explorer will quietly (and slowly) continue its evolution into a legacy product—a relic of a bygone era. But the reports that Internet Explorer is dead are slightly exaggerated. We have no idea how long there will be demand for Edge’s “Internet Explorer mode” and, therefore, no idea how long the development and maintenance cycles for legacy IE11 apps will continue. The feature may wind up being a bridge to a world without Internet Explorer, or it could become a mainstay of Edge and its successors. Only time will tell.

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