Earlier this year, we stopped providing support as standard for the web browser Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), and we weren’t the only ones. Facebook no longer supports IE8, neither does Google, and, from January 2016, even Microsoft won’t. Here are a few reasons why…
Let me take you back…
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…back to March 2009. A time when Breaking Bad was still on TV, Avatar was smashing box office records, and Microsoft revealed its latest software, Internet Explorer 8. Reviewers called it “the best version of Internet Explorer (IE) in a long time”, while the web development community said, “well, at least it’s slightly better than IE7.”
You see, IE had always been a pain when it came to web development. The main problem was that Microsoft refused to use standards agreed by everybody else. This meant, as web developers, we often had to specifically develop code to run on a site on IE, which added to the development time and cost. It wasn’t until IE9 that Microsoft really started to fall in line with the rest of the world – much to the relief of most people in the web industry.
What most sensible people did when getting a computer with IE8 on it, was boot it up and download an alternative browser like Firefox or Chrome. However, there were places where this wasn’t possible, such as offices where an IT department had decided IE would be the default company browser, or they were using badly coded internal software that would only run on IE. Thankfully this has also become less of an issue now.
But why not just develop for IE8 anyway?
You may think six years isn’t a long time, but six years in technology is closer to sixty in the real world. Web technology changes so rapidly that browsers need to constantly be updated to cope with it. This is why, since IE9, Microsoft has been forcing automatic updates to its web browser. We’re now on IE11, with IE12 (codenamed ‘Spartan’) currently in development.
We can still develop for it, but we’re at a point now where its market share is so small – and reducing every month – that it no longer makes sense to include IE8 in quotes as standard.
Why you shouldn’t be using IE8:
From January 2016, Microsoft will stop providing support for it, making it extremely dangerous to use online as it becomes more prone to viruses and malware. It’s true that IE8 was the final version of Internet Explorer to work on Windows XP but, if you’re on a version of Windows higher than Windows XP (Vista or Windows 7 up to 10), there is no logical reason to use IE8.
If you are on Windows XP, firstly, fire your IT company. It’s a fourteen-year-old operating system. In Internet terms, you might as well be using crushed beetle blood to draw on cave walls. Secondly, even if you are stuck in prehistoric technological times, you can still use alternative web browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox. Both of these browsers are more up to date and more reliable, so there really is no excuse!
Look at it this way. You are offered a new car for free:
Option 1 is a slow, clapped out, old rust bucket that has a number of known flaw.
Option 2 is a brand new, top-of-the-range model, with all the latest gadgets, that will automatically be replaced with the newest model every time the manufacturer releases it (for free!).
Which would you choose?