We have been using Internet Explorer since Windows 95, perhaps not so much in recent years since we started using modern browsers.
Microsoft recently announced the retirement of the Internet Explorer desktop application (IE). There are some organizations however that still rely on Internet Explorer for legacy sites who may be impacted by this announcement. These legacy sites can still be supported using the Microsoft Edge browser.
In summary, the Internet Explorer 11 desktop application will be retired on June 15, 2022 for certain versions of Windows 10, mainly Windows 10 version 20H2 and later. The Internet Explorer desktop application will be out of support after being retired and will be disabled with a monthly Windows 10 cumulative update. The end user will be redirected to Microsoft Edge browser when trying to access Internet Explorer.
Affected Operating Systems
As mentioned, Windows 10 version 20H2 and later would be affected as per the announcement.
All Windows Server LTSC and Windows 10 LTSC versions that are currently supported would not be affected. LTSC stands for Long-Term Servicing Channel and is effectively the current supported Windows Server versions such as Windows Server 2012 R2/2016/2019. The LTSC versions of Windows 10 are Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015/2016/2019. LTSC versions receive 5 years mainstream support and 5 years extended support, thus a lifecycle of 10 years.
The announcement does not indicate when or if these LTSC Operating Systems will be affected later on. For now we may assume that Internet Explorer could be supported on the current LTSC versions until the Operating System itself is no longer supported. We may receive information on this later, perhaps when the next LTSC versions are released. Currently Windows Server 2022 is in preview and the next Windows 10 LTSC version is announced for the second half of 2021.
Standard Windows 10 versions (non-LTSC in this case) also have their own lifecycles, and the only versions of Windows 10 that will still be supported by June 15, 2022 (when IE gets retired) are 20H2 and later, which makes sense why the announcement specifically mentions this version being in scope. Previous versions of Windows 10 will no longer be supported thus not in scope for the monthly cumulative update that will disable the Internet Explorer desktop application when installed.
I have recently tested the Windows 11 DEV build (22000.51 and 22000.65) and did not see Internet Explorer 11 on this build. There is also no option to turn this on as an additional feature. Trying to run iexplore.exe opens up Microsoft Edge instead. My assumption would be that IE will not be included in the final build.
What about my legacy sites
If you are still relying on Internet Explorer to access some legacy sites for compatibility reasons, don’t fear as the new Microsoft Edge browser has a feature called IE Mode.
IE Mode on Microsoft Edge provides compatibility for legacy sites that require Internet Explorer. IE Mode enables users to access modern and legacy sites using a single browser. Users no longer need to switch between browsers to access legacy intranet sites.
IE mode supports ActiveX controls such as Java and Silverlight, and it also supports Internet Explorer settings and group policies that affect Protected Mode and security zone settings.
The legacy Edge browser was also removed from Windows 10 systems with the April 2021 cumulative update and we are now moving towards the new Microsoft Edge browser based on Chromium being the only Microsoft browser you would need for legacy or modern sites.
From June 15, 2022 we will no longer have the Internet Explorer browser installed on up to date systems. Start planning now, deploy Microsoft Edge if you haven’t done so already and start testing and rolling out IE Mode for those legacy sites. Your end users would also appreciate not having to use multiple browsers depending on what they are trying to access.
I have provided some links below to the official IE retirement announcements and some of my blogs to assist you with the rollout of IE mode for Microsoft Edge.