ie8icon1On January 12th 2016, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for versions of Internet Explorer older than IE11.  With less than three weeks left, this could be a problem for the millions of Internet Explorer users who still use outdated software.

Numbers vary, but it is estimated that at least 124 million users around the world currently use an outdated browser.  More troubling is that as much as 11% of those users are still running Windows XP, a decade old, out-of-support operating system.  Not only is Windows XP no longer supported by Microsoft, but it is also incapable of installing the latest version of Internet Explorer.

All of this is bad news for the millions of users who remain unaware that they are in danger.  For over the past decade, Microsoft has automatically downloaded and installed patches for users who opted into the automatic patch program.  These patches are the first line of defense against any number of internet based malware and spyware attacks.  Without continued patch support, users of the outdated browser software will be at the mercy of hackers and cybercriminals.

One of the biggest deterrents from businesses to upgrade has been the fear of incompatibility with custom written software.  Microsoft has taken steps to address these concerns with recently announced enhancements to IE Enterprise Mode.  These enhancements include support for HTTP ports and feature a Web Application Compatibility Lab Kit, which walks IT administrators through the chore of configuration.  Companies that require older editions of Internet Explorer to run Web apps or services can upgrade to IE11, then rely on that browser’s Enterprise Mode to mimic the older versions’ rendering engines.  While it is not a guaranteed solution, it should make the transition to IE11 go more smoothly.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that users need to upgrade whether it is convenient or not.  Failure to do so will put your personal data at risk and in the case of business use, endanger your clients as well.  Without a secured browser, anything from online purchases and banking to simply viewing websites can result in your browser or personal data from being hijacked or stolen.

Have questions about the end of support date?  Let us know in the comments below.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer