You might've heard the fact that Microsoft are finally laying veteran browser Internet Explorer to rest after a quarter of a century as the browser of choice who either don't want to download Chrome or still run an old version of Windows. With its share of the browser market narrowly pushing one percent, now looks like a better time than ever to bin it off.
However, this removal of Internet Explorer isn't actually all of what it seems. The browser is going to be removed in June 2022 from certain versions of Windows, but by corralling everyone into the Edge basket, it leaves no room for those who want to continue using IE despite Microsoft's best efforts. To combat this, the Americans are wheeling out a specific IE mode for Microsoft Edge that will be supported until at least the middle of the decade. In doing so, it keeps the legacy of a cornerstone of the World Wide Web's history alive for a little bit longer, which in the eyes of some, may be a good thing.
This move to IE has been touted by some as being one of the first instances where Microsoft have given a piece of their own software an adequate shelflife, but then again, it is worth noting that Internet Explorer represents the last of the old guard in computing history. Windows XP was killed off in 2014 with the end of Service Pack 3, for instance, and the fact of the matter is that the browser isn't dead, in so much as it is, in a way, still being supported.
Microsoft have a nice habit of continuing to quietly help out legacy options for those who want to stick with that they know. Windows 7 only went properly EOL at the beginning of last year and whilst you can still run the system, you will miss out on vital security updates, unless you pay the ludicrous costs for business user support licences to keep those updates coming for a further couple of years.
The actual phasing out of the browser and also the death of Windows 7 last year marks a major turning point in the image change and approach of Microsoft to their own software options. For many years now, Windows 10 has been pushed as being a so-called 'end of Windows' project as such, in that a new version of Windows isn't expected for release in the same way periodic new OS's became available. Think the steady release cycles of XP, Vista, 7,8, 10.
It's almost a similar style of system to the way that Apple do MacOS with perpetual licences with free updates now, as opposed to what they used to do, which was release a new OS on a paid licence. That all changed with the release of Mavericks in 2013 which gave way to the free upgrade system as opposed to the nominal $29 upgrade fee charged from Lion onwards. Before that however, Apple had released any updates on physical media for $129 for personal use, a similar charge to Microsoft even today.
So in one way Microsoft have been forward thinking, but in another are backwards looking. Whilst Windows 10 has still been receiving updates in the same way that their other OS's have in the past, for someone building a PC, they are still charged the fee to purchase a Windows licence. Of course, there are ways round this, but beware, you will be left with your 'Activate Windows' watermark in the corner of the screen.
Much like Windows 10 though, this new IE system presents this same paradoxical situation. In a year's time, Internet Explorer will be gone, in so much as the .exe file for it won't exist on Windows machines, yet Edge will still maintain support for Internet Explorer for another five years or so. Something doesn't quite add up, not least when Edge, it's fair to say, hasn't been at all successful, despite all of Microsoft's pushing.
Whenever you now appear to load up any form of Windows based machine, you'll be pushed with the pop-ups advertising Microsoft Edge to the world and by the looks of things, very few people have taken the hint. Both Edge and Explorer are barely pushing one percent in the market share rankings, whilst Chrome regularly holds two-thirds of the browser space. There's even some irony in the fact Microsoft have made Edge a Chromium-based browser; that's the open source codebase that Google Chrome itself is based on. Even then, their attempts to drum up support and push people onto the Edge bandwagon hasn't necessarily worked.
So yes, on the one hand Microsoft killing off Internet Explorer after nearly three decades marks an end of era for the World Wide Web and the way that PC worldwide will operate. On the other hand, there's this argument to suggest that if support for the browser did quietly get removed without warning in an OS feature update that not many people would've noticed anyway.