Microsoft may have provided a year-and-a-half of notice of its intention to stop supporting older versions of Internet Explorer, but it some businesses and consumers may not have heeded the warning.

Back in May 2014, Microsoft said outdated browsers represented a major security risk, and undertook to stop supporting many of them from January 12 US time (our January 13) this year.

Though this has been widely taken to mean that IE 8, 9 and 10 are now out-of-support that is not quite the case.

Microsoft’s exact wording is that “only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical supports and security updates.”

For users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, that means the only supported version of IE that can be run is IE11.

However, for Windows Vista SP2 users, the most current version of IE they can use is IE9, and Microsoft note in FAQs that they will continue to patch IE9 for these Vista users.

(For those users still on XP, IE’s end-of-support could mean a world of hurt. BT suggested several alternatives in a blog post).

Although Microsoft believed Windows home users were likely to already be on IE11 – based on them having automatic updates turned on – industry analysis suggested otherwise.

Security firm Duo said that 44 percent of IE users of its services still ran IE8, 9 or 10 – mostly on Windows 7.

“A large portion of the Microsoft ecosystem remains trapped in a significantly outdated and dangerous combination of an OS that is now in an extended (as opposed to mainstream) support cycle and a set of very outdated browsers,” Duo Labs’ program manager for R&D Mike Hanley said.

“Given that Automatic Updates on the Windows platform should have advanced many of these users at least to Internet Explorer 11, the data suggests that the large pool of users stagnating on old browser platforms are likely not enabling Automatic Updates and likely have numerous other missing OS patches as well.”

That could turn into a potential issue for IT admins if people with unsupported browsers try connecting to corporate networks or applications, Hanley said.

BT suggested that “generally speaking, there’s really no excuse” for consumers not upgrading to the latest possible version of IE.

“More recent versions of Internet Explorer are altogether better than older ones — they’re more stable, more secure, have more features and have better support for new web standards,” it said.

“In short, updating Internet Explorer will make web browsing more enjoyable.”

Microsoft, however, acknowledged that a percentage of its small-to-medium and enterprise customers might find it harder to simply switch over to IE11.

It still encouraged business users to switch and take advantage of an ‘enterprise mode’ in IE11 that it said enabled users to “run many legacy web applications” and line-of-business applications that were designed to be dependent on earlier versions of Internet Explorer.

Talk to your account manager at Brennan IT if you have any concerns about how this might impact you or your organisation.

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