June 15, 2022, is the day that Microsoft will stop supporting most versions of Internet Explorer 11, and organizations should have ensured that they ready for its retirement. But are they?
Internet Explorer retirement does not equal death
Slowly but relentlessly, Microsoft has been pushing users and organizations to switch to Microsoft Edge as their default browser on Windows. In Windows 11, released in October 2021, IE has already been replaced by Microsoft Edge as the default web browser.
Starting tomorrow, the company will no longer support the Internet Explorer 11 desktop application on some versions of Windows 10, namely: Windows 10 client SKUs (version 20H2 and later) and Windows 10 IoT (version 20H2 and later).
When trying to open IE, users of those OSes will be “redirected” to Microsoft Edge, i.e., the new browser will open after a notification message. After a while – Microsoft didn’t specify when – “IE will be permanently disabled through a future Windows Update on all devices with Windows platforms that are in-scope for IE retirement.”
“For supported operating systems, Internet Explorer 11 will continue receiving security updates and technical support for the lifecycle of the Windows version on which it is installed,” the company explained, but noted that “the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge.”
The newer browser is, according to Microsoft, more agile when responding to security vulnerabilities and offers modern features to improve productivity. It also has the IE mode, which uses Edge’s Chromium engine for modern sites and IE’s Trident MSHTML engine for legacy sites.
The IE mode includes support for various IE functionalities (e.g., ActiveX controls).
How to make the switch from IE to Edge (in IE mode)
According to the result of a survey conducted by IT asset management provider Lansweeper, which included over 9 million devices from 33,000 organizations, 47% of PCs will need to upgrade to Microsoft Edge before the June 15th cut-off point, and just 21% of PCs are running the most up-to-date version of Windows 10 (version 21H2).
“From our perspective, it’s not a complete surprise that only a fifth of the Windows 10 devices are on the latest version, or that Internet Explorer EOL will affect so many,” noted Roel Decneut, Chief Strategy Officer at Lansweeper.
“There could be many reasons for organizations to delay upgrading, including being more conservative, having more pressing issues to deal with, or simply having no visibility into the version of operating systems they’re running.”
Microsoft has urged ogranizations not to avoid or skip Windows updates to keep IE11, because Windows updates contain critical operating system security patches.
Instead, they should switch to using Microsoft Edge in IE mode, which will supported “at least through 2029.” For the IE mode to work, though, they should not uninstall or remove IE11, because that would make it stop working.
Microsoft has helpfully delineated the steps organizations should go through to make the switch from IE to Edge successful.