New Delhi: Microsoft will finally phase out three ‘old’ versions of its twenty-year old web browser Internet Explorer on Tuesday. It effectively means that technical support for the said versions will be withdrawn. The three versions in question include IE8 (released in 2009), IE9 (released in 2011) and IE10 (released in 2012).

This phase out will not include Internet Explorer 11, the last version of Internet Explorer as we know it, which was released in October 2013 for Windows 8.1 and November 2013 for Windows 7.

For users who still prefer the good old Internet Explorer, Microsoft’s latest move is no less than a wake up call. The company said that it will “no longer provide security updates or technical support for older versions of Internet Explorer." This could leave the previous versions of the browser, open or vulnerable to malware or cyber attacks, which would most certainly compromise user data.

Last year, Microsoft replaced Internet Explorer with a new default browser—Microsoft Edge, which initially debuted in March 2015 as a preview release. Edge was released for public use in July 2015 and was later updated in November last year. Edge was part of Microsoft’s attempt to revamp its browser, in a project originally codenamed ‘Spartan’.

Microsoft’s move to phase out IE 8, 9 and 10, was announced in August 2014 in a blog post. It said that after Tuesday (12 January 2016), “only the most recent version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates."

Making a strong case for its latest IE version, Microsoft said, “Internet Explorer 11 offers improved security, increased performance, better backward compatibility, and support for the web standards that power today’s websites and services. Microsoft encourages customers to upgrade and stay up-to-date on the latest browser for a faster, more secure browsing experience."

The move could affect the millions who run Internet Explorer, according to a report in tech magazine ComputerWorld. “Nearly 340 million people who run Microsoft’s Internet Explorer have just a week to upgrade or switch browsers, or face a shut off of the security patch spigot."

The report, quoting data by analytics company ‘Net Applications’ said that in December 2015 alone, “42.5% of all IE users ran an outdated-in-eight days version of the browser."

The move should not be surprising, given how badly Microsoft has fared in the browser wars over the last decade, since newer entrants like Google, Apple and Mozilla entered the fray.

As of December 2015, Google’s Chrome, which was launched as late as 2008, led the web browser marketshare with 44.4%. Apple’s native browser, Safari accounted for 19.1% of the marketshare, while Internet Explorer was third at 12.5% of the total market share, according to W3Schools, a data analytics site.

Does this mean that Internet Explorer as we know it is dead? As Samuel Gibbs in The Guardian argued last year, reports of its demise could well be exaggerated for now. “Compatibility issues and upgrade hassles" for several old users, could mean that the IE legend could live on for a few more years. “The new browser won’t be compatible with a lot of older web software and services built specifically for IE. This will include the majority of older internal web-based applications used by businesses for admin purposes."

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