Prepare for a future without Internet Explorer

IE is on its way out, so it's time for IT and Web services creators to make the switch to the modern Web

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For years, IT organizations have been tied to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, which for years was the standard Web browser. But IE fell further and further behind in terms of modern HTML compatibility. And as mobile devices and Macs grew in popularity, its proprietary technologies like ActiveX and Java versions shifted from being powerful tools to balls and chains that kept expensive-to-update specialty apps from working in a mobile, cross-platform world. The compatibility differences from one version of IE to the next made the situation even more difficult.

Microsoft has spent several years urging enterprises to move to the latest versions of IE, to little avail. Instead, usage of Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox have soared, with many companies even standardizing on IE for legacy usage and Chrome for modern usage.

So, Microsoft has now taken a radical new tack in Windows 10: Introduce a new browser, called Edge (what had been code-named Project Spartan), that jettisons the legacy technologies and adopts much more of the modern HTML specification. Edge is a significant refactoring of Microsoft's Trident HTML rendering engine, focusing on the HTML5 specification, and dropping much of the legacy of earlier Internet Explorer releases. It's essentially Microsoft's Chrome or Safari.

As Windows 10 rolls out and (as Microsoft hopes) displaces Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8, we're going to see older, less-capable, buggy, IE versions fade away. The old Trident rendering engine will still be available in IE11, but unless you've set the appropriate group policies, Windows 10 will default to using the Edge browser. And it's clear that IE11's inclusion in Windows 10 is as a transition aid; It should not count on its existence for much longer.

Microsoft's move to Edge will force IT to address the same issues that Chrome, Firefox, and Safari have already raised: dropping the legacy IE technologies can cause problems for existing sites and services. If you've been building sites that are designed for IE6 or IE7, you're going to have issues with a modern browser like Edge, as it won't support all many old APIs and features.

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