Let me tell you the story about a little browser. In the beginning, there was a love for Internet Explorer, a deep and passionate love for the browser that was simply faster, better and more capable than anything the competition brought to the market. While users loved the browsers, corporations loved the browser even more. IE dominated the market with over 91% global market share.
That was about 20 years ago. After years of mistreating the developers, IE has become the most hated browser in the world. It is stuck in the past, developers hate it as they have to test and debug perfectly working websites with bad developer tools, people are frustrated with it as some websites work fine, then others do not work fine. And most don’t even know how to use it properly but are making the decision to create even more web apps for it.
The market has changed and IE is hanging on with about 3% market share (global stats counters). But this is only from data that can be openly collected on the internet. The bigger question is: how many corporations are using IE 11 internally. People working at corporations do not have a choice they have to use the browser that is installed on their system. Sadly on one of my last projects customers had about 40% IE 11 as their default browser.
The Immortal Browser
They tied the life and death of IE 11 to Windows 10 and currently, Windows 10 is the ‘last’ version of Windows. It is an evergreen operating system, major updates every 6 months, auto updates etc.
Windows 10 will get support until the next Version of Windows, but Windows 10 is the last Version of Windows, thus IE 11 is immortal (for now)
Microsoft ensured that corporations could update to Windows 10 without them breaking their internal web apps. They would get into serious trouble with their corporate partners and they would lose a lot of business with their partners. The backlash would be even greater as when they tried to remove MSPaint from Windows 10.
Microsoft cannot kill Internet Explorer 11.
The people that created this mess probably got a gold star for their really brilliant way of creating trust with their corporate partners. And that is ok, It was the right thing to do for Microsoft.
This is the Future of IE 11
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, now imagine a future in 25 years. For the last 25 years, IE 11 took away space on your hard drive. It is a relic of a long-forgotten past a browser that does not support HTML 5.12, JS2042, CSS 3 (as CSS 4 is still not complete) and some guy without any knowledge of technology tells you to debug your web app for IE 11, as it is company policy to only use ‘trusted’ technology. You pass on this task to the new web developer you hired. A young web developer with high hopes on working on cutting-edge tech, tasked to debug a browser that was on life-support even before he was born and he never ever used in his personal life.
Open your eyes. You are still here, you can prevent his future. People can change, and corporations are people (at least in the U.S.).
What you can do as Website
Stop supporting IE 11. It is as simple as that. As soon as more and more Websites do not work in IE 11 the easier it is for the corporations to see the need to move on to another browser and nobody will be using IE 11 anymore.
But what about lost revenue? Well, you need to analyze how much revenue (not clicks, views or whatever) you are making from the 3% of viewers? Revenue = Money customers are giving you - IE11 development costs - additional maintenance costs.
That sum is probably not very high (relative to the other income your site generates) or even negative. If it is negative, then well why are you doing something that is actually hurting your business? Plus the dent in your revenue would be anyway only temporary as more and more websites stop support for IE 11 — there is no more ‘lost revenue’ as there are no more IE 11 users.
- Advise your users to move to another Browser.
- Have a grace period before stopping support for IE 11<
What you can do as Developer
As a developer, we tend to bend to the wishes of our customer. In this case, this is actually causing the problem.
It is your job to also inform your client/customer that the decision to support IE 11 is a very short-sighted one.
- Your development time increased by 30%. The time that could be spent on new features/quality improvement.
- Maintenance Time increases, as well as code, sometimes gets ‘hacked’ for IE. Then the next developer sees that mess and tries to figure out what is going on.
- Overall the Development time is about 10–30% higher for supporting IE 11
- Have meetings / Information Events with Non-Technical People to talk with them about the IE 11 situation.
Now, of course, there are a ton of tools that really can help, like modernizr and you can integrate that into your build pipeline. Can I use also is really helpful to figure out if you can use specific elements? But that is not the point. You need to persuade the higher-ups of getting rid of IE 11.
What you can do as Tech Support
In corporations, tech support is the gatekeepers of technology. But then again in most cases, they do exactly what is told.
- Research Security Issues with IE, Issue regularly a newsletter to your higherups about the Security Risks that are involved with using IE 11
- Keep track of all internal software that already supports other browsers. Keep track of all software that does not support other browsers.
- Contact your software partners, ask them when they will support other browsers. Increase the pressure over time.
- If it is house internal software, try to introduce updated software standards, and adjust them on a year to year basis
- Stop telling your purchasing department that “The software needs to run on IE 11”, they don’t know what that means.
- Have a plan to phase out IE 11 and move to another default browser. This can be done especially easy with the End of life of Windows 7. As then anyway everything will have to change.
What you can do as Sales Person
You can rewrite your contracts.
- Add in a 20% Premium the customers have to pay for your software if they need IE 11 support. It gives the customer the incentive to rethink their IE 11 approach and gives a ‘discounted’ price to the customer / covers your internal costs of developing for IE 11.
- Add in provisions that their data cannot be securely stored if they use IE 11, as you cannot ensure that IE 11 meets the current Security Standards.
What you can do as CEO / HR Person
Were you wondering why your turnover rates are so high, ever thought about IE 11 is the cause of those rates? People want to work with technology that they are familiar with. If people are using Chrome / Firefox at home and go to work and run IE 11. They have the feeling that they are working with outdated and old technology. That again is an indicator that your company may not be an ‘industry leader’ or that the company knows anything about the ‘digital revolution’.
- Find the person in charge of the IE 11 decision and ask for a more flexible setup to ensure that new workers can be on-boarded more quickly.
- Hire a person that can transition your company from IE 11 to another browser.
What you can do as Random Worker
- Demand Training for IE 11, sounds stupid, but really you don’t know how that thing works or how to work with it effectively.
- Ask your boss who is in charge of this IT decision. Put pressure on that person that something needs to be done.
- Inform your boss that you could do your job more effectively in another browser.
What can Microsoft do?
Microsoft is stuck between a rock and a hard place since nobody wants their newest “Edge” Browser. They do not know what to do.
I would have a suggestion:
Create a Chromium-based browser with an IE 11 skin. call it “IE Next”
- It would practically be a Chrome variant with ‘minimal’ development effort
- It would be loved by Developers (Chrome is any way dominating the market right now)
- It would take advantage of a really strong (while tainted) Brand
- Corporate Business Partners would love the ‘innovation’ that suddenly came with the new browser. Because the guys in charge usually do not know a lot about technology and care about other things more.
- Downside Firefox lovers would want that it is based on their technology.
This may sound like a very simple-minded approach to solving the situation. Lawyers and internal business strategies etc. would make it impossible to pull off such a project.
Ideally, Microsoft could create a real competitor to actually make a browser that can compete with Firefox or Chrome. Competition is always good.
The end of the love-story
Maybe the love story with IE does not have to end. Looking back Internet Explorer did a lot of good in the past, introduce us to key technologies like the XHR Request, CSS Grids and a lot of other things. Maybe there could be a revival with a new and modern Browser.
But right now the Internet should file for divorce. Sadly that is always involved with burning a lot of money, getting lawyers involved and leaving your partner. But ending a bad relationship is sometimes the only thing you can do.
What do you think? Any other suggestions/arguments to kill off IE 11?
Or any good reason to keep on using IE 11?