Microsoft Wrenching Internet Explorer 11 From Most Users

The venerable Internet Explorer 11 browser for desktops is mostly getting automatically disabled and replaced with the Microsoft Edge browser through a Feb. 14 Microsoft Edge update.

IE 11 for desktops is getting disabled for Windows users that followed the semiannual channel Windows update model. When the end of IE 11 draws near, users will see a dialog box telling them that "the future of Internet Explorer is in Microsoft Edge." The dialog box will have a "Continue" button that will automatically bring their IE 11 browsing data to Microsoft Edge.

The only users that may still have IE 11 desktop browsers are Windows users that are following Microsoft's long-term servicing channel (LTSC) update model, Microsoft explained in an Feb. 14 updated FAQ. These LTSC users are "out of scope" for Microsoft's IE 11 replacement policy. They include users of Windows 10 LTSC, Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Windows Server LTSC. IE 11 will "die" for those users when Windows LTSC reaches its end-of-support phase.

IE 11 is still available for users of out-of-support Windows versions, such as Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, although using unsupported software would seem iffy from a security standpoint. Microsoft's FAQ also advised against skipping Windows updates to try to avoid the IE 11 replacement for similar security reasons. Moreover, Microsoft's browser replacement attempts will continue beyond the Feb. 14 Edge updates.

The IE 11 browser could be still around simply because Microsoft Edge updates get distributed gradually, which happens "over a span of a few days to a week."  Basically, though, it's the end of the line for IE 11 for most people.

The automatic disablement of the IE 11 browser with the Edge browser may still leave a bit of detritus on the desktop. For instance, IE 11 is just getting "disabled" by the Feb. 14 Edge update and isn't removed. Users will see traces of IE 11 that could hang around until May or June, the FAQ explained:

IE11 visual references, such as the IE11 icons on the Start Menu and taskbar, will be removed by the June 2023 Windows security update (“B” release) scheduled for June 13, 2023. The optional, non-security preview “C” release on certain Windows 10 versions scheduled for May 23, 2023, will also remove IE11 visual references.

IE 11 will live on to a degree through IE Mode, which is emulation technology in the Edge browser that taps older IE technologies for the Web sites that need them. IE Mode will be supported by Microsoft "through at least 2029," the FAQ indicated. Microsoft is planning to give a "one year notice" in advance before deprecating IE Mode. Also, Microsoft is continuing to support the "MSHTML (Trident) engine" of IE 11 because it's used by IE Mode.

The death of IE 11 instigated by a Feb. 14 Edge update is the second of its kind. The browser was supposed to have been permanently disabled by a Windows update on June 15, 2022 for Windows 10 OSes on the semiannual channel release update cycle, but Microsoft later relented and indicated that it'd be disabled by this Feb. 14 Edge update instead.

Ironically, the Internet Explorer 7 browser, released for Windows Vista and Window Server 2008, has outlasted IE 11. The IE 7 browser is scheduled to reach its end-of-support phase on Oct. 10, 2023.

For deadlines on other Microsoft products reaching their end in 2023, see this January Redmond article.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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