On May 19, Microsoft officially announced that it would be retiring the Internet Explorer desktop application on June 15, 2022. Following suit, WordPress, the internet’s largest provider of open-source websites, will also drop support for Internet Explorer websites and apps.
“This is not a surprise,” said Lightburn front-end developer Corey Megown. “Internet Explorer is considered a legacy browser, which is not often updated and falls outside of what most agencies consider a standard range of support. Popular browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge are all updated quite frequently – sometimes as often as 2-3 times a week – and therefore are considered evergreen.”
In general, the rule of thumb for supporting different versions of evergreen browsers spans the last two major versions for most agencies. At the time of writing, Google Chrome’s current major version is 90, which means your agency, web development partner, or IT team will support versions 89 and 90. However, since these browsers are updated so often, issues with a specific versioning is rare and usually addressed seamlessly by supporting providers.
The frequent updates in evergreen browsers typically contain bug fixes and security patches. Still, they can also include implementations of modern features for use in website development. These modern features are agreed upon by both the design/development community and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which is the closest thing to a governing body for web technology and standards agencies have. The features can streamline certain aspects of development or improve performance, making the web experience better for internet users and providers. This is also why there are very clear web best practices for development, design, and other digital services. However, these modern features aren’t readily available in legacy browsers. The problem arises when utilizing these modern features meets the business requirement of supporting a legacy browser such as Internet Explorer. This doesn’t merely cause frustration for developers but can cost businesses a significant amount of money in time spent adjusting (or rewriting) code and performing additional browser testing.
Internet Explorer, installed by default on Windows, was only updated with major releases of the Windows operating system itself. “Along with Microsoft being deeply embedded into software, companies, and organizations across the world, we’re all but guaranteed to see Internet Explorer still kickin’ around in one form or another into the 2030s,” stated Megown. Fortunately for the average consumer, new installations of Windows now also come with Microsoft Edge, which is installed by default to automatically shift users to a better browser with little friction. Microsoft themselves are considering the Microsoft Edge browser the future for their organization, improving compatibility, streamlining productivity, and providing better security.
So how does this affect Lightburn services and support?
“Building websites is complex work, and the tools we choose affect the outcome. If explicit support for legacy browsers isn’t planned on in advance, we can’t always easily ‘make it work’ after the fact,” continued Megown. “In a perfect world, modern browsers would get the best of everything you put into them, and legacy browsers would at least function in the same basic manner, but that’s not always the case. If one person on the client’s team is using a legacy browser but their own analytics state that less than 1% of their users, can your organization justify the cost of customization and support?”
On average, organizations that are deeply embedded within the Microsoft ecosystem average 1,678 legacy apps. Because of this, it will take time for organizations to fully switch to the Microsoft Edge experience. For developers, even Microsoft notes that “[developers] have been waiting for this day for a very long time.” Internet Explorer has been increasingly difficult to support side-by-side with modern browsers, and “this welcome to change will save time and money for web developers, and their clients.”
While support will continue to be available from Microsoft, WordPress and other third-party contributors will continue to look toward the future. With less than 1% of all Internet users using Explorer, support will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Themes and other supporting plug-ins will not be changed. However, they will no longer be evolved or modified. It will be in the best interest of organizations to transition their legacy materials sooner than later to ensure the evolution of your websites and applications are seamless into a more modern environment before integration and support disappear entirely.
If you are a Lightburn client looking to confirm the capabilities or structure of your website or app, please reach out to your dedicated project manager directly. If you are looking to create a new website or application and want to be sure your system is structurally sound before you begin, please give us a call at (414) 347-1866 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to an expert.