'IE Mode' for Internet Explorer 11 Coming Soon

June 15, 2022 marks the end for Internet Explorer 11, but may not be the final chapter for Microsoft's dying browser.

IE 11 won't be supported on Windows 10 versions 20H2 semiannual channel releases and later. It also won't be supported on Windows 10 IoT versions 20H2 semiannual channel releases and later.

Windows 11 users are out of the picture, as IE 11 isn't even available for that OS. Microsoft Edge was the browser that shipped with the Windows 11 OS.

For users of other Windows operating systems, IE 11 is continuing to "live." Windows long-term servicing channel (LTSC) users will get the most use out of IE 11, as it's supported for the particular Windows LTSC OS lifecycle. Microsoft did specify a final end date for IE 11 on Windows LTSC, though, which will be on Jan. 9, 2029.

IE 11 support is fast fading for users of Windows 7 with Extended Security Updates and Windows 8.1. Its support will end for those OSes on Jan. 10, 2023.

IT pros with sketchy security practices that still want to use IE 11 on Windows Server don't have to worry so much, as the browser's support is tied to the Windows Server support lifecycle. This notion was echoed by Microsoft in this Microsoft Tech Community FAQ post on the topic, which stated:

The IE 11 desktop app retirement only impacts Windows 10 Semi-Annual Releases. Windows Server 2016 and 2019 are not affected by this change.

Also, Microsoft noted generally that LTSC Windows versions are "out of scope" for its IE 11 retirement plans, meaning that the June 15 end date doesn't apply.

Support Switcheroo
Microsoft has typically explained over the years that Internet Explorer's support was tied to the lifecycle of the operating system. However, it tweaked that concept a bit in recent years. What's supported now and after June 15 is the Internet Explorer Mode capability in the Microsoft Edge browser, which emulates IE technologies in the Edge browser.

Microsoft essentially just swapped out the component it said was supported. Here's the FAQ's explanation to that effect:

For the IE 11 desktop application on platforms affected by this announcement, the intent of the policy has stayed the same, but the specific component supported in the Lifecycle Policy has changed. Previously, the component supported was Internet Explorer, the browser application. Because the future of Internet Explorer is now in Microsoft Edge with the Internet Explorer mode feature, the component that is now supported is Internet Explorer mode.

IE 11's Permanent Disablement
Microsoft plans to gradually direct people using the IE 11 desktop application in Windows 10 to the Microsoft Edge browser after the June 15 end date. After a while, though, it plans to "permanently" disable IE 11, according to the FAQ:

After the IE11 desktop application is retired and goes out of support on June 15, 2022, the IE desktop application will be progressively redirected to Microsoft Edge over the following months, and ultimately disabled via Windows Update, to help ensure a smooth retirement.

The exact disablement date for IE 11 desktop wasn't described, but it'll happen gradually on some "update Tuesday" (or "B week," the second Tuesday of a month) when Microsoft releases its security and quality patches. This disablement doesn't actually remove the IE 11 desktop browsers from these Windows 10 systems "as the IE11 engine is required for IE mode to function," the FAQ explained.

Microsoft actually doesn't recommend trying to remove IE 11 from Windows systems as it's still needed to make IE Mode work.

IE 11 Browser Dies, but IE Mode Supported
While Microsoft is planning to disable the IE 11 browser for certain Windows 10 semiannual channel releases, IE 11 functionality will still live on with IE Mode in the Edge browser.

As an example, here are just a few of the dates from the FAQ, which includes a table showing the end-of-support dates for IE Mode for multiple Windows operating systems:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise version 20H2: IE Mode support ends on May 9, 2023.
  • Windows 10 Enterprise version 2004: IE Mode support ends on Dec. 14, 2021.

Those same IE Mode end dates also pertain to the Windows 10 IoT products having those version numbers. See the table in the FAQ for other Windows OS IE Mode end-of-support dates.

It seems that IT pros now have to specifically look to the IE Mode end-of-support dates to estimate the lifecycle of these IE technologies, as Microsoft has switched what gets supported.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.