RIP Internet Explorer: What you need to know

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For IT managers, a breath of fresh air is on the way. Microsoft is set to officially retire Internet Explorer next June after almost 27 years. Rest in peace.

The browser may have been the go-to portal to the internet in the past, but many would argue it’s stayed there. While the sunsetting of Internet Explorer (IE) will certainly invoke nostalgia for many, Max de Lavenne, CEO of Buildable Software, says tech teams will probably say, “finally, it was about time.”

“It has become too outdated, was always buggy, has always been too slow, was a security risk, and had a lack of extensibility,” he told VentureBeat. “It was introduced at a time, in 1995, when Netscape was essentially the only player. In Microsoft’s defense, the web was very young when IE was introduced. A lot of standards have been developed over time, and as software ages, there’s an incentive for software engineers to keep modifying the same code base and avoid rebuilding from scratch.”

While the browser will be up and running until June 15, 2022, Microsoft 365 and other apps will end support for it on August 17 of this year. This means any last queries should be submitted right away, and overall, it’s time for enterprises to get serious about making sure they’re prepared. To learn more about the impact and what they should do, VentureBeat spoke to de Lavenne. We also chatted about the positive benefits and how Internet Explorer’s retirement will force enterprises to modernize for the better.

VentureBeat: Why exactly does it mean that Internet Explorer is being shut down?

Max de Lavenne: The retirement means that enterprises dependent on legacy, IE-compatible software need to start researching new software and platforms ASAP. Not only is older, outdated software cumbersome, but it’s also more susceptible to threats and cyberattacks.

VentureBeat: Which businesses will be most impacted? What are the most significant ways this will impact enterprises?

de Lavenne: Institutional organizations, government, and large companies will most likely be most impacted. These organizations often require web apps to be primarily compatible with IE, because it fits within their existing corporate IT policies and their decades-long dependency upon Internet Explorer. This could be challenging for contractors and businesses who work with government agencies. It will also impact any businesses with old web portals that still require ActiveX components to run, which should be a very rare occurrence today.

The most significant impact will be the need for organizations to upgrade their web apps that require IE to operate properly on normal web browsers, and for integrations with third party companies that require IE to access their systems. The biggest pain point will be cost and the inconvenience of shifting to a new browser and developing new software.

VentureBeat: How can enterprises evaluate the effect this will have on them?

de Lavenne: Enterprises should conduct an audit of the web platforms they’re currently using internally and externally, and grade them on a scale from low impact to critical impact. Then they should tackle the critical impact first. We’ve seen health care portals or finance apps, for example, that don’t work well outside of Internet Explorer because the HTML was put together only for the browser and didn’t adhere to, or evolve for, better standards. The assessment should be focused on the business continuity of critical operations.

VentureBeat: Should businesses rewrite new applications to work with Microsoft’s replacement browser Edge or buy new off-the-shelf software to replace their IE-reliant applications? What are the considerations here?

de Lavenne: Businesses should definitely have started the rewrites or modernizations of their web platforms to work within the HTML standard. And if not, they should start ASAP. Some organizations control the source code of their web platforms and can adapt it to the modern browsers, but some may need to purchase a new off the shelf platform to replace an aging one.

Enterprises should consider how critical the reliance of Internet Explorer for a specific web application is, and test with another browser to check for incompatibilities. They should also make a migration plan, tackling the most critical areas first.

VentureBeat: What are the positive benefits of the retirement of IE? 

de Lavenne: The retirement of Internet Explorer is good, as it will allow organizations to use more of the existing web and adapt to the changing web. All modern web browsers rely heavily on a modern Javascript engine and better rendering techniques, which removes the need for many of the extensions people had been used to installing to bridge web browser functionality gaps. For example, back in 2005, YouTube relied on Flash to play videos. Today, Flash has been retired and all web browsers play videos natively thanks to HTML5. Allowing Internet Explorer to rest in peace will allow companies to actually spend less on their web infrastructures because they won’t have to support an old technology stack for which there has been an increasing lack of workarounds.

VentureBeat: Will we see increased investment in new tech and applications, or are we just going to keep maintaining and trying to make old tools work with Edge?

de Lavenne: Probably a mix of both. Many organizations prefer to stick with older technology because it’s been tried and tested. That being said, this will push organizations to face the reality that their old stack needs to be replaced. It’s essential for businesses to constantly upgrade and modernize their software, portals, apps, and websites. While yes, there is a cost associated with upgrading and modernizing, it is extremely important from a security and data-protection perspective. Not only does upgrading and scaling keep user data and private information safe, but it also offers the opportunity to create software that can better collect and analyze behavioral data to create better customer experiences.

VentureBeat: How will this impact cost for enterprises? Will websites become less expensive?

de Lavenne: This will make web applications cheaper to build. Software engineering companies won’t have to develop for modern web browsers and spend the extra time (and money) supporting Internet Explorer.

VentureBeat: What else is important to know about this?

de Lavenne: All tools come to pass; they either keep up with the technology changes or get replaced. The lesson to take from the IE retirement is that organizations need to realize that all software behaves like an island in a sea whose water level is constantly rising. It’s just a matter of time until the software goes under water if it isn’t kept up. This is a reminder for organizations to continuously assess the longevity of the software they use to run their critical business operations. It’s an ongoing process.


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