Do you still use Internet Explorer? If so, a top cybersecurity expert with Microsoft has a simple message for you: Stop, or at least stop using it for everything.
In a recent blog post entitled "The perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser," Chris Jackson, a senior cybersecurity architect with Microsoft, explained that IE no longer supports new Web standards and is more of a compatibility solution. As such, people who still use Internet Explorer are missing out on an increasingly large portion of the Web.
"You see, Internet Explorer is a compatibility solution," Jackson wrote. "We're not supporting new web standards for it and, while many sites work fine, developers by and large just aren't testing for Internet Explorer these days. They're testing on modern browsers. So, if we continued our previous approach, you would end up in a scenario where, by optimizing for the things you have, you end up not being able to use new apps as they come out. As new apps are coming out with greater frequency, what we want to help you do is avoid having to miss out on a progressively larger portion of the web!"
Once the king of all browsers, Internet Explorer has become persona non grata over the past few years. Google Chrome has long since usurped the throne as the dominant browser. To move users beyond its once popular browser, Microsoft created Edge as the default in Windows 10, relegating IE to a dark corner of the Start menu. But Edge has failed to catch on, prompting Microsoft to announce a new version built on the same rendering engine used by Chrome. The company has also revealed that it will no longer support Internet Explorer 10 by this time next year and is encouraging IE users to move up to version 11.
So if Chrome is by far the dominant Web browser with Firefox in second place, who's still using IE? Jackson's words of advice are intended more toward companies than toward individuals. An individual user can easily switch from one browser to another. Companies? Not so much. Many organizations run Web-based applications and services built for a specific browser. Jumping to a different browser means having to rebuild all of those apps and services and ensuring compatibility with the new browser. That's why Jackson refers to IE as a "compatibility solution."
In a response to questions about his column, Jackson clarified that companies should still use IE for the sites that need it. Rather, he doesn't want them to use IE for everything.
By trying to use Internet Explorer for all websites, "the candle is burning from the other side with that approach -- now your new sites break while keeping your old sites fixed," Jackson said. "I'd like to craft a solution where both your old sites and your new sites work!"
For companies that still need IE for Web-based applications, Microsoft offers a feature called Enterprise Mode Site List, which limits use of the browser to sites that require it. For sites built with newer Web standards, which browser should people use? Jackson leaves that decision up to each user.
"I'm not here to enforce any browser on anyone," he said. "Windows gives you a choice in your browser, and you should choose the one that best meets your needs. There are plenty of customers who choose a Microsoft browser, for many good reasons, and when they do, I want to make sure that they configure that experience in a way that will lead to the best outcomes long-term."
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