In 2014, Microsoft announced that it will end the support for IE 8, 9 and 10 in January 2016. This means technical support and security updates will cease once the New Year hits. Because Vista users were never offered IE 10 or 11, they get to keep IE9, at least until support for IE9 ends in April 2017.
Microsoft has always had the policy that no matter how old your version of IE was, they would support it. This change in policy was a shock especially because it came at a time when IE8 has actually been growing 4x faster than IE11.
IE and web developers have a long history of not getting along. At first glance, this change sounds pretty awesome. But other programs might be using IE’s older versions as rendering engines, which could be problematic and does require preparation.
Microsoft Edge aka Codename Spartan
IE’s bad reputation may have finally prompted Microsoft to do something about it. In 2014, Microsoft began revamping their image with a Twitter campaign. They hired digital artists to create tweet responses to their customers’ hashtags. At the same time, they started indicating that IE would not be around forever.
They called the successor by its codename, Project Spartan. During Brand2015, Microsoft announced the actual browser name: Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge is available only for Windows 10. Many developers have wondered: is this really just IE 12? Here are a few of the details we know about Edge.
- Microsoft Edge will not be responding to IsIE requests
- Microsoft Edge will not support WebRTC or WebM
- On the HTML5 test, Microsoft Edge scores 453 out of 555; a big improvement from past IE releases
What Consequences Will This Have For Web Developers And The Web?
Microsoft wants the developers who have been working around IE bugs, like centering layout, staircase effect, space between list items, etc, to finally have code function fully in browsers, hack free. In theory, there are plenty of positives to come with this change.
In one example, the guy with the web browser from 2000 can’t come back to you with complaints like, “Hey, why doesn’t your website work right on my computer?” This same guy may need to upgrade not only his IE but his operating system, based on the Microsoft support schedule. Another positive: office workers stuck in a company who has resisted updating their browser will rejoice.
But what about those companies and the programs they created and kept running all these years, not on the current IE? Microsoft has a small backup plan for developers working in this area.
Microsoft Edge offers Enterprise Mode. Enterprise mode allows legacy web apps to run during the transition phase with enhanced backward compatibility. Windows 7 will have access to Enterprise Mode until 2020 and Microsoft has committed to continuing to invest in tools to assist with upgrades to the latest IE.
Large corporations or government agencies have the option to purchase custom support contracts, but for the rest, it will be up to the developers working within a company to keep operations running smoothly.
Tips For Web Developers
- If a business’s internal apps require older IE, transition using Enterprise Mode 11.
- Focus on the future: mobile.
Mobile Compatibility Should Be The Focus
Every month we see more and more traffic coming from smartphones and tablets. This is where the focus should be. Legacy code is important, but don’t waste all of your precious resources on Microsoft changes.
IE 11. Is It Here To Stay?
Yes. At least, it seems as though IE 11 should be here through Microsoft’s schedule of support. But developers should expect Microsoft Edge to take center stage once it drops.
Cross Browser Testing
In January 2016, all programs will need to be IE11 (or IE9 for Vista users) compatible. Ideally, all previous programs have been created to be viewed on all browsers which would include IE 11.
For developers working in corporations with internal programs running on earlier versions, they have some work to do over the next few months.
Microsoft is moving its users to their newest version of IE 11 by eliminating support of earlier versions. With the Windows 10 release, Microsoft released their new browser, Microsoft Edge. Edge aims to win back developers and users by offering more compatibility than IE.
Enterprise Mode will be available for a limited time to assist with the transition, and for government agencies, or large companies, custom support contracts are available. Mobile is the future and a better way to spend your resources than focusing too much on legacy code for IE.
IE 11 is expected to stay for a while but expect a push toward Microsoft Edge. Finally, testing as of 2016 will need to be focused on IE11 and in the case of Vista users, IE9.