Internet Explorer has been on life support since Microsoft first introduced its replacement browser, Edge, in 2015. (Arguably it's been on life support for a lot longer than that, since Chrome became the de facto browser for anyone who knows what a web browser is). But now it's official: Internet Explorer is at the end of its life.
"The Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022, for certain versions of Windows 10," Microsoft announced in a blog post Wednesday. Microsoft cites Edge's improved compatibility with modern websites and old school IE features like ActiveX, and Edge's far better security, as big reasons for IE's retirement. Older versions of Internet Explorer were infamous for their security vulnerabilities, and IE 11 still only gets monthly security updates, versus much more frequent security patches for Edge and other modern browsers.
The phase-out actually starts sooner than next year: On August 17, 2021, Microsoft 365 "and other apps" will end support for IE11. Edge will continue to support "legacy Internet Explorer-based websites and apps" through 2029.
It feels like a big moment, seeing Microsoft's once-ubiquitous Internet Explorer finally join Netscape in the browser graveyard, but it really is going out quietly. According to NetMarketshare's data from last fall, Internet Explorer now only makes up about 5% of all web traffic. I've seen other stat trackers peg it at less than 1%. Probably a good thing, considering Internet Explorer 11 was released back in 2013 and hasn't been substantially updated since.
2022 won't technically be the end of IE for a select group of Windows users. Microsoft notes that the retirement doesn't apply to its long-term service enterprise branch of Windows 10, or to the Windows Server version. We'll get to throw a retirement party for Internet Explorer next year, then, but the wake will have to wait a bit longer.