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Microsoft throws old versions of Internet Explorer under the bus

Come 2016, if you're not up to date you're on your own – enjoy your security bugs

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Microsoft has confirmed that it's ending support for old versions of Internet Explorer, and it's giving you just shy of 18 months to get up to date.

Roger Capriotti, director of the IE team, blogged on Thursday that beginning on January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of IE on any supported version of Windows will continue to receive technical support and security updates.

As of today, that means IE9 on Windows Vista SP2 and Windows Server 2008 SP2, IE10 on Windows Server 2012, and IE11 on any later version of Windows (including Windows Server 2012 R2).

In fact, the only reason IE9 is still being supported on Vista is because no later versions will run on that little-loved OS. IE9 never won high marks from web devs, and Google, for one, has already discontinued support for it in Gmail and Google Apps.

"For customers not yet running the latest browser available for your operating system, we encourage you to upgrade and stay up-to-date for a faster, more secure browsing experience," Capriotti wrote.

Microsoft is a late convert to web-standards religion, having spent the better part of 20 years releasing browsers that rendered sites in ways that were incompatible with rivals like Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

These days, the software giant markets standards compliance as a key feature of IE11, and it has even gone as far as to claim it's had to build workarounds into its browser to support websites that are coded using the competition's nonstandard features.

Redmond even seems to want to atone for its own past bad behavior. It's now encouraging commercial customers who have built their bespoke web apps for older, patently terrible versions of IE to upgrade to IE11 and use its "Enterprise Mode" to maintain backward compatibility with those standards-shirking browsers.

Enterprise Mode, which Microsoft shipped with the Windows 8.1 Update and as a standalone patch in April, makes IE11 behave like IE8, even going as far as to announce the old version to websites and ActiveX controls that have been hard-coded for specific browser releases.

Concurrent with its announcement of the end of support for old IE versions, Microsoft said on Thursday that it will continue to support Enterprise Mode through the full lifecycle of whichever OS IE11 is running on – meaning it will be supported on Windows 7 through January 14, 2020, for example.

As Microsoft points out, however, most consumers won't have to worry about much of this – at least until their version of Windows reaches the end of its lifecycle – because they get the latest version of IE installed automatically as a function of Windows Automatic Updates. ®

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