13 Apr 2015

Why we and other developers don't support old versions of Internet Explorer - Update

In June 2011 Google officially announced that they would no longer support Internet Explorer 7 (IE7). Older browsers like IE7, they said, just don’t have the “chops” to handle today’s modern web browsing needs. Instead, they urge people to update their browsers.

As the world moves more to the web, these new browsers are more than just a modern convenience, they are a necessity for what the future holds.

A few months later, Facebook also announced that they would no longer support IE7. In fact, Facebook’s new Timeline feature doesn't even visually render in IE7.

Internet Explorer 7 was released as long ago as 2006 (Over 8 years ago!) and Internet Explorer 8 as long ago as 2009 (Over 5 years ago).

With free updates being offered on older versions as soon as you open your browser, and security being an issue, there really is no reason not to update browsers to the latest versions.

As of March 2015, only 0.1% of the entire world’s Internet browsing population uses IE7. With the latest Internet Explorer now being Internet Explorer 11, IE8, 9 & 10 are now declining closely behind IE7. Only 7.7% use IE at all–but those that do have upgraded (for free) to newer versions of the browser. As of March 2015 the most popular IE browsers are versions 11 (4.1%), 10 (1.0%), 9 (1.4%) & 8 (1.1%).

The reasons IE7 is being abandoned by the biggest names on the web is because not only is it incredibly expensive to make websites and web applications work with IE7, but it is vastly flawed, does not follow industry standards, has security flaws and does not encourage the latest web progressions. Web Developers need to make sure that their products work on a myriad of browsers and devices–Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and mobile browsers, for example. Designing for these browsers takes time. With IE7, there are so many unique quirks to the outdated, 8-year-old browser, that it takes an enormous amount of time to make a website or application support it. Due to these problems, and the very small percentage of people who even use the browser, we chose not to support Internet Explorer 7.

The labour costs to support IE7 are so high that one online store in Australia is actually charging a tax on people who make purchases from their website using IE7.As the BBC reports, CEO of Kogan.com, Ruslan Kogan, said that he decided to charge the tax because his IT team had “become pre-occupied with making adaptations to make pages display properly on IE7″.

I was constantly on the line to my web team. The amount of work and effort involved in making our website look normal on IE7 equaled the combined time of designing for Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
Image Credit: Kogan.com

Starting January 12, 2016, Microsoft is changing its list of supported Windows configurations. Effective that date, the company said in an announcement today, “only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates.”

Support for the five-year-old Internet Explorer 8 will be dropped completely for Windows desktop and server releases. On mainstream PCs, Internet Explorer goes into the same bucket as Windows XP, which reached its end-of-support date in April 2014. Microsoft will not release security updates for Internet Explorer 8 on desktop versions of Windows after the first Patch Tuesday of 2016 (security updates for Internet Explorer 8 will continue to be available after the cutoff date for a handful of embedded operating systems).

There is a very simple solution to this problem –update your browser. It’s free, fast and easy. Updating your browser will increase your Internet browsing speed, allow you to use the latest web apps and, most importantly, your browsing experience will be better protected from evil people who seek to do you harm, since updated browsers have updated browsing security.
On Easitill websites we have a browser detection setting enabled, which alerts people of the risks involved in using an outdated browser and gives them links to easily and freely update.