Microsoft Announces the Retirement of Internet Explorer

Microsoft announced on Wednesday its plans to retire its Internet Explorer browser starting June 15 of next year. The software giant said its Internet Explorer 11 desktop application would no longer be supported for certain versions of the company’s Windows software. 

Internet Explorer has gradually weakened from prominence over the years. Its rival browsers, Chrome from Alphabet Inc.’s Google unit and Safari from Apple Inc., have gathered the majority of audiences’ preference. As of April, Internet Explorer for desktop computers acquired less than 2% of the global browser market, according to Statcounter, a web analytics firm. Chrome has more than 65% of that market share, followed by Safari’s 10%, and Microsoft Edge has 8%.

More than 20 years ago, Internet Explorer was soaring high. It was a prominent feature in the browser battle two decades ago and in the antitrust battle against Microsoft by the U.S. government.

It is a simple case of big names transitioning from digital reality to corporate history after being passed by their competitors. For instance, AOL Instant Messenger was retired in 2017 after users opted for other platforms such as Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp. Then, Tumblr, the microblogging site and social media network, was sold after being overtaken by Facebook. BlackBerry Ltd., the authority in mobile email and whose devices became staple for many businesses, ceased selling its devices after Apple’s success with the iPhone.

Microsoft’s decision to sunset the browser reflects how the habits around accessing the internet have changed. The popularity of tablets and smartphones supplanting the use of personal computers as their primary way to connect. 

The browser push now is centered on Microsoft’s Edge, launched in 2015, and shares underlying technology with Chrome.

Microsoft is offering an “IE mode” with its Edge browser for those people who just can’t let go. It allows users to access applications and websites that haven’t transitioned away from Internet Explorer.