Microsoft’s phasing out more support options

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Companies that have struggled to meet Microsoft’s end-of-life deadlines are about to find themselves with even fewer working options. Starting next week, support for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 will end. 

It seems that the move is designed to further streamline the number of browser options Microsoft supports. As of Jan. 12, the only two browsers that will continue to be supported are Microsoft Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge, the default browser for Windows 10 devices.

Next Tuesday, these versions will get their final security update and prompt users to upgrade to later versions.

For what it’s worth, signs show that Edge has had difficulty claiming a large segment of browser share recently. And half of all Internet Explorer users worldwide are still on these soon-to-be-outdated browsers.

Why not switch?

So what is it that’s keeping users on browsers that are as much as three to six years old? Some users just have a habit of sticking with whatever came on their current computer and never upgrading or updating those programs.

But for businesses the answer is much different: It often comes down to needing these versions in order to support legacy applications. And that’s about to become an even more risky proposition.

Once this final security update comes through, that’s it for official support. So any security risks will be unaddressed, leaving companies vulnerable to attack.

Economics of switching

For many companies, the idea of staying on older versions may not be ideal, but it’s close to the only choice they have if they want to avoid huge costs associated with upgrades. Even for a free web browser, the amount of testing and development that goes into upgrading can be an expensive proposition.

(To see some IT pros’ difficulties with this latest announcement, check out this Reddit thread.)

That said, there are likely some benefits you can tout to getting on a new version of the browser sooner than later. This includes:

  • Security support. Even if an upgrade isn’t immediately worth it, chances are the cost of attacks on outdated systems would be untenable to the organization. If higher-ups are reluctant to switch, make sure they see that the potential costs of a security breach could outweigh any savings.
  • Mobile support. Chances are any apps that aren’t able to be supported on versions earlier than 11 also aren’t able to be used pretty much anywhere except a standard desktop or laptop set up. If your company values mobility, this will likely be a small step on the way to getting more of it.
  • More upgrade options. Legacy support is often tricky because it reaches a self-fulfilling prophecy. First, you stick with the old application because it’s cheaper. Then you become stuck with it because upgrading several versions is prohibitively expensive. Finally, you just don’t see a way you can upgrade because the old system is much too antiquated to be modernized.
    But upgrading can help with that. If you get on a newer version, your options for switching to a different (and maybe even cheaper) alternative are much better. Remind higher-ups this upgrade won’t just allow you to continue running your old systems safely, it could also be the first step to getting on a newer, more reliable one altogether.