The time has come. Today, Microsoft stops supporting older versions of Internet Explorer, potentially leaving many small businesses at risk.
Only Internet Explorer 11 and Edge are left standing after Microsoft pulled support for IE 8, 9 and 10 today.
As warned by the Redmond, Wash., software giant, Jan. 12 marks the date the company stops issuing updates and security fixes
to the older versions of the browser software, which has been the default Windows Web browsing experience since the days of Windows 95.
Users still running IE 8, 9 and 10 will begin to receive notifications urging them to upgrade. For businesses, IE 11 contains a compatibility mode, fittingly called Enterprise Mode, to enable backward compatibility with Web applications built for older versions of the browser.
Not everyone got the message, according to John Swanciger, CEO of small-business marketing specialist and online community site Manta.
"Many small businesses are simply unaware that Microsoft is pulling support on their current IE browser," Swanciger told eWEEK
. "Small businesses still using old Internet Explorer browsers might not have their automatic updates setting on, or they don't take the time to run updates when new versions are released."
According to Manta's Web traffic analysis
, 34 percent of small-business owners are using Internet Explorer. Of those, 61 percent are using version 10 or earlier. Manta notes that Microsoft will continue to support IE 9 on Windows Vista since it is the last version that is compatible with the operating system. (Vista support ends on April 11, 2017.)
Unlike consumers who can typically upgrade to the latest and greatest Web browser without adverse effects, small-business owners have reason to cling to aging software.
"Legacy support is another reason small businesses stick to outdated Internet Explorer browsers. At their inception, most businesses choose a default browser as a platform for their servers, Web apps and other programming tools," Swanciger said. "These companies likely know using a different browser or updating IE are options yet choose to remain on old versions because the transition requires money, time or manpower."
While clinging to older software makes economic sense, it comes at the expense of data security. "Without the necessary security updates and support, small businesses are subject to malicious cyber-attacks that threaten critical business information and data," warned Swanciger. Further, he urges small businesses "to take action now and get off the old browsers to prevent consequences like loss of critical data or theft of data that can damage their company reputation."
The good news for small business that don't have investments in legacy Web applications is that they "are able to perform a painless update through the Automatic Updates portal," said Swanciger. "Those with existing Web applications should consult a Microsoft Certified Partner to gauge their best option for meeting business goals."
Once older versions of IE have been purged, it's time to turn one's attention to the operating system. "Browsers and operating systems are especially intertwined with Internet Explorer, so performing updates to the OS adds an extra layer of protection," said Swanciger.