Microsoft Sets New IE Support Cutoff Policies

Still clinging to Internet Explorer 8? In early 2016, Microsoft will quit supporting any version of its browser older than IE 9.

Microsoft Internet Explorer

Microsoft is warning businesses that Internet Explorer 8's time is running out.

Organizations with Web applications that have standardized on older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) have until Jan. 12, 2016, to upgrade before the company withdraws support, Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer, wrote in a blog post. After that date, "only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates," he said.

Essentially, users of IE 8 and older versions may be putting their organizations at risk, said Capriotti. "Outdated browsers represent a major challenge in keeping the Web ecosystem safer and more secure, as modern Web browsers have better security protection," he said.

Although IE has gained a reputation as a magnet for malicious coders over the years, Microsoft has made progress in hardening its Web browser. "According to NSS Labs, protection against malicious software increased from 69 percent on Internet Explorer 8 in 2009 to over 99 percent on Internet Explorer 11," he stated. "It should come as no surprise that the most recent, fully patched version of Internet Explorer is more secure than older versions."

Come January 2016, Microsoft will only support IE 9 and above, depending on the OS. IE 9 will be supported on Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2. Windows Server 2012 customers must have IE 10 to continue to receive support. No browser older than IE 11 will be supported for users of Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

"Commercial customers are encouraged to test and accept updates quickly, especially security updates," said Capriotti. "Regular updates provide significant benefits, such as decreased security risk and increased reliability, and Windows Update can automatically install updates for Internet Explorer and Windows."

Acknowledging that many businesses are still getting a lot of mileage out of their legacy Web applications, Microsoft is offering backward compatibility on IE 11 while encouraging customers to start bracing for the future.

"Customers should plan for upgrading to modern standards—to benefit from the additional performance, security, and productivity of modern Web apps—but in the short term, backward compatibility with legacy Web apps may be a cost-effective, if temporary, path," stated Capriotti. "Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, released in April 2014, offers enhanced backward compatibility and enables you to run many legacy Web apps during your transition to modern Web standards."

Enterprise Mode for IE 11 was launched during the company's Build developer conference in April. Configured by administrators, the new compatibility mode renders older sites and Web applications properly and preserves their functionality. While active, a blue icon that resembles office buildings appears alongside IE 11's address bar.

"A lot of customers have internal IE 8 Web apps," said Erwin Visser, general manager of Windows and Windows Phone, during a session at Build. Now, those customers won't have to upgrade to the latest version of Windows to leverage the new feature. "Enterprise Mode for IE 11 will be supported in Windows 7 as well as Windows 8," he said.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...