January 11, 2016 By Larry Loeb 2 min read

Microsoft recently announced that as of Jan. 12, 2016, Internet Explorer (IE) versions 8, 9 and 10 will no longer receive security updates, officially marking the end of life (EOL) for these products. One final security upgrade will be sent out Jan. 12 for all the versions.

The security updates will appear on Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (x32 and x64) and on Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (x32 and x64) Edition, according to a report in SecurityWeek. This update also includes a new EOL upgrade notification feature.

Investigating IE Browser Share

IE still has the greatest share of use on desktops, according to NetMarketShare. That is undoubtedly due to the prevalence of older versions in the mix. When the version usage is broken out, as GlobalStats showed, the picture looks dramatically different.

For example, in 2015, GlobalStats found that IE8 had a 1.8 percent share, IE9 had a 1.31 percent share, IE10 had a 1.12 percent share and IE11 accounted for 6.84 percent. These are all far behind the numbers for Chrome (44.87 percent) and Firefox (10.37 percent). It seems that even if IE is present on desktops, other browsers are actually being used more.

Security Updates Push Users to IE11

Microsoft announced the EOL plans in 2014, so the move to end security updates is not a surprise. Older IE versions have had many security problems including remote code execution, elevation of privilege, information disclosure and security feature bypasses.

Microsoft released a list of reasons to upgrade, and it stresses security in that list. Interestingly, it also emphasizes that IE11 will deal with HTML5 natively, which bypasses the need for Adobe Flash Player, well-known for its history of vulnerabilities. The company added that doing the upgrade will be very economically beneficial for the enterprise.

The upgrade is very simple if automatic updates has been enabled on a machine. But if deployment must be done manually, there is also a planning toolkit available to find and upgrade older browser installations.

Upgrading Is the Way to Go

Even though compatibility issues that may be present with older Web apps, the security benefits of eliminating the use of outdated Web browsers in the enterprise are compelling. This announcement should be the wake-up call that IT pros heed to get the task done.

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