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Internet Explorer, star of Windows, dies at 26

Internet Explorer is dead. Microsoft is retiring IE today after nearly 27 years. The aging web browser is being sunset in favor of Microsoft Edge, with support being officially withdrawn for IE 11 today. It’s the end of an internet era, after Microsoft initially moved away from the Internet Explorer branding with the release of Windows 10 in 2015.

For consumers, not much changes. Usage of Internet Explorer has plummeted in recent years, with StatCounter showing IE has less than half a percent of overall browser market share. Microsoft has been trying to stop people from using Internet Explorer for years now, and the company previously labeled it a “compatibility solution” rather than a browser that businesses should actively be using.

Microsoft will start rolling out a new prompt over the coming months that redirect those still using Internet Explorer over to Microsoft Edge. Eventually, Internet Explorer will be permanently disabled as part of a future Windows update. You can read more about how Microsoft is handling the removal of Internet Explorer in Windows right here.

While Microsoft has moved to its Chromium-powered Edge as the default browser on Windows 11, the MSHTML engine that powers Internet Explorer is still part of Windows 11. It exists purely for IE mode in Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft says it will support IE mode in Edge through at least 2029.

Businesses have largely moved to Edge’s IE mode for web apps and sites that are so old they still require Internet Explorer. Microsoft created this IE mode for Edge in 2019, and it supports older ActiveX controls that many legacy sites still use. Spiritually, Internet Explorer will live on through this mode, but there won’t be Internet Explorer cakes anymore.

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Some businesses will still be caught by surprise by the retirement of Internet Explorer, or won’t have been able to fully remove its use in time. Nikkei reported this week that some government agencies and financial institutions in Japan have been slow to respond to the IE retirement. The website for Japan Pension Service must still be viewed in Edge’s IE mode, for example.

There are likely thousands of similar businesses and instances of Internet Explorer usage worldwide, too. Microsoft has been warning about today’s Internet Explorer retirement for years, and it’s still treading carefully with prompts and redirects until the browser is fully removed in the coming months.

Windows 11 users won’t have to worry about Internet Explorer, as it doesn’t even ship with an accessible version of IE. It’s the first time Microsoft hasn’t bundled IE with a new version of Windows for more than 20 years. That bundling decision led to the infamous United States v. Microsoft antitrust battle and the European Commission’s action against Microsoft that resulted in a browser ballot inside certain versions of Windows.

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