Neha Shenoy

Why is it high time to upgrade older IE browsers!!

Blog Post created by Neha Shenoy Employee on Mar 24, 2016

After the advent of newer browsers like Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge, with improved security, increased performance, better backward compatibility and adhering to web standards that support current day websites and services, Microsoft has dropped the support for its older browsers IE8 to IE10 as of Jan 2016. The browsers will continue working but there won’t be any technical support nor security updates which could make anyone using it more vulnerable to attacks. This change could be a big issue for organizations that have custom applications built for older browsers but it could be a blessing for developers who no longer have to worry about the compatibility issues.

 

Few reasons to justify this change:

 

Popularity:

If we look at the data provided by Akamai’s Internet observatory, a tool that provides latest browser trends, we see that IE7 and IE9 doesn’t even fall in the top 10 browser category with IE10 having a very minimal presence of about 2% as seen by the Akamai platform. There is no usage of IE8 reported among the top 15 browsers. IE11 is quite popular comparatively with a market share of 11% while Microsoft edge is slowly gaining adoption with a user base of about 2%.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 12.03.11 PM.png

 

Apart from the popularity there are other reasons that compel us to not use these obsolete browsers.

 

Security

The web browser is used to constantly process data from potentially untrusted sources leaving users exposed to a wide range of attack. There have been multiple security vulnerabilities discovered in these older browsers over the years like Operation SnowMan, a zero-day exploit for IE9 and IE10 where the attacker installed a backdoor that lets the originators pull data from an infected computer. And now with the withdrawal of support by Microsoft there wouldn’t be any security updates sent to these older browsers exposing the end user’s personal data to vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious software, viruses, spyware, malware, etc., Each month the consumers and businesses who have the unsupported versions of IE installed, the chances of them being attacked increases as the new vulnerabilities get discovered and they go unpatched by Microsoft.

As Microsoft explains, “Regular security updates help protect computers from malicious attacks, so upgrading and staying current is important.”

 

Lack of support for modern Technology

 

Another problem with the older browsers was that they were deprecated and faulty. These browsers did not support the latest web technologies like HTML5 and CSS3, which served as a foundation to most of the modern websites. Since IE lacked support for adaptive layout, developers had to write conditional comments to make sure the end users using older IE had similar look and feel like Chrome or a Firefox, which was of course tedious.

For Eg : First an appropriate html class had to be defined and then a corresponding javascript had to be written to make sure the website worked on older IE too!

 

<!doctype html>

<!--[if lt IE 7 ]> <html class="ie6"> <![endif]-->

<!--[if IE 7 ]>    <html class="ie7"> <![endif]-->

<!--[if IE 8 ]>    <html class="ie8"> <![endif]-->

<!--[if IE 9 ]>    <html class="ie9"> <![endif]-->

<!--[if (gt IE 9)|!(IE)]><!--> <html class=""> <!--<![endif]-->

<head>

 

 

(function ($)

{

   "use strict";

  

   // Detecting IE

   var oldIE;  

   if ($('html').is('.ie6, .ie7, .ie8')) {      

          oldIE = true;

   }   

   if (oldIE) {   

   // JS for IE..

   }

else {      

// Code for other browsers

}

}(jQuery));

 

Also with the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets there has been great emphasis on developing mobile friendly websites which has been made easier by responsive design but to get it to work on IE posed similar challenges. These were overcome by writing JavaScripts but because IE suffered from poor JavaScript performance than modern browsers, this negatively impacted the user experience!

 

Owing to all these facts it becomes clearer that it's high time for end users to upgrade the older IE browsers to IE11 or switch to any other modern browser. There is still a small percentage of user base who are unaware of the consequences of an older IE. It makes sense to inform them by providing links to pages containing information about what would happen if they didn’t upgrade or information on how to upgrade, the options available etc., which is done by Facebook or Twitter as of today. This can be done by using a splash page or a pop-up. The user could either be forced to upgrade or gently nudged to do so. Providing a little direction could help people steer in the right direction.

Outcomes