Why Internet Explorer 8 Might Finally Die

In the web development world, Internet Explorer is a sore spot. The continuous battle of designing and developing for older versions can be a huge headache. Good news for some developers: 2014 may just be your year. Just like we saw last year for IE7, IE8 is declining in popularity. With upcoming advances in technology and web, this could be the last we see of IE8. Here is what may lead to its extinction:

Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP
Effective April 8, Microsoft will stop all support and updates for Windows XP in an effort to drive users to more successful, better performing operating systems. As a result, businesses will need to migrate to Windows 7 or 8 to avoid high security risks. Unlike past versions of Windows, the percentage of Microsoft XP users still out there accounts for almost 40% of desktop market share.

How does this impact IE8? According to the Microsoft Product Lifecyle, IE8 Support End Date follows the Support Lifecycle of its parent Major Product – Windows XP. This means all security updates, services packs and driver updates related to IE8 will also cease.

Rapid increase of mobile device usage combined with declining PC sales
Internet usage on smartphones has doubled since 2009, resulting in 63% of adult mobile users browsing online. Additionally, worldwide PC shipments are expected to fall by 10.1% in 2013 and another 3.8% in 2014.

How does this impact IE8? Plain and simple: IE8 is not available for mobile devices. Without a partnership with a large mobile carrier, Internet Explorer will only have the declining percentage of laptop and desktop users to rely on.

Progression of Internet technologies
The majority of modern day websites are implementing HTML5, CSS3, SVG and more during the development process. Major players have already stopped their support of IE8, including:

  • Google and Google Apps stopped the support of IE8 for online applications and services such as Google Docs and Spreadsheet. At the end of 2013, IE8 users could no longer utilize Google Analytics with the browser.
  • Last year, Twitter users were asked to switch to another browser after complaints that tweets were not appearing within IE8.
  • jQuery 2.0 dropped support for IE6, 7 and 8 in its new version released last year.

How does this impact IE8? With these websites dropping IE8 support, it shouldn’t be long until Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo stop supporting in some manner as well. Eventually, IE8 will just be a page in the web development history book.

For those reading this on Firefox, Chrome or Safari: job well done. Yet many organizations out there—especially in the banking or government sector—still power up with IE8 out of refusal to pay for a new operating system or assumptions that other web browsers perform just as well. As a web developer in those industries, the future falls on marketing decision makers: create a faster, better designed website to attract new business or stay in the Stone Age to avoid alienating customers?

This blog post was originally published on Wired Innovation Insights on February 18, 2014.


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