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Internet Explorer End of Life

On this years Star Wars day, what could possibly be more exciting than light sabre fights? The very last official day of support for Internet Explorer 11 is only a few weeks away! Well, to me and people who make the Internet and secure networks.

How far away?

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... and people have been dreaming of this day since before Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) was even released. Making sites like: Death to IE 6, The IE 7 Countdown and Death to IE 11.

Even Microsoft themselves have implored admins to kill it earlier. Asking everyone to set our own IE retirement dates.

In case you weren't paying attention in 1998, Internet Explorer took the number one browser position from Netscape Navigator (an ancestor of Firefox). Three years prior, Netscape had over 80% of the browser market. 1997 to 2001 were known as the Browser Wars. It had far less light sabres and space journeys than the Star Wars, but it was an important part of the Internet growing up.

How did Microsoft put IE at the top? That could be attributed to AOL's popularity and prolific CD saturation, or that Microsoft included IE in Windows from Windows 95 onwards. But the important part is that IE became the most used browser on the planet. And that meant that organisations began using what turned out to be non-standard features of IE – all of which tied them to IE in general.

Fast forward to IE 6. By the time we arrived here, it felt like all progress halted. IE 6 was released in 2001, but IE 7 wasn't released until 5 years later in 2006, two years after Firefox was released. (IE 8 hit hard drives around the world in 2009, one year after Google released Chrome.)

Now, you might think that once IE 7 was released, things started looking up, right? Nope. IE 6 stayed around for what seemed like an eternity due to businesses & governments being tied to old systems that were in turn tied to IE 6. In my previous employment, we had to support IE 6 for a very long time. As these organisations users couldn't install just any program, and they needed whatever specific version of IE they had for their intranets (internal versions of the Internet).

Needless to say, it's taken the Internet industry a long time to get over IE PTSD. And the rise of Firefox and then Chrome was the lifeline needed at the time. Of course now, we see history repeating with Chrome, but that's a topic for another day.

So for now, we rejoice that IE is all but gone!