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Support for IE 10 on Windows Server 2012 Winding Down

Support for Internet Explorer 10 will expire in 2020 for users of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard, Microsoft warned this week.

The warning may come as a surprise to industry watchers. IE 10 launched on Oct. 30, 2012, according to this Microsoft lifecycle page description. Ordinarily, that would mean that the browser would be good until 2022 -- spanning the 10-year lifecycle of a particular Windows version.

However, Microsoft announced a change in its Internet Explorer support policy back in August 2014, adding the following clause: "Beginning January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for a supported operating system will receive technical support and security updates."

That policy change should have meant that IE 10 was out of support back on Jan. 12, 2016.  Microsoft apparently let its policy slide a bit. Now, it's sounding IE 10's death knell and giving organizations stuck on it a year's advance notice.

The fine-print details of Microsoft's IE policy changes can be found in this FAQ document. A footnote in it indicates that IE 10 will be supported on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard until Jan. 31, 2020, with the last security updates arriving on Jan. 14, 2020. After that date, no more security updates from Microsoft will arrive for IE 10. The browser will continue to run, but it will be potentially insecure to use it.

Move to IE 11
Microsoft is encouraging users of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard that have dependencies on IE 10 to move to IE 11 before the January 2020 deadlines. Only IE 11 will be supported on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard after the January 31, 2020 end date.

The IE 11 browser's lifecycle is tied to the lifecycles of the underlying Windows OSes. For Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard, the end of "extended support" dates will be Oct. 10, 2023 and July 11, 2023, respectively.  

If backward compatibility with IE 10 is still needed by organizations, Microsoft's announcement recommended using its Enterprise Mode scheme. However, Enterprise Mode doesn't seem to be supported on those OSes, according to this Microsoft document description.

Oddly, organizations can only start testing IE 11 on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard sometime this spring. "IE 11 is available for piloting starting Spring of 2019," Microsoft's FAQ document explained. It's not clear why organizations must wait, but the document does state that IE 11 for those operating systems will be available for download around that time:

To continue the shift to a faster, more secure browsing experience, starting in the spring of 2019, commercial customers running Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard can begin using IE11 in their test environments or pilot rings. To simplify deployment, you will be able to download IE11 via the Microsoft Update Catalog. We will also publish the IE11 upgrade through Windows Update and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) for all versions of Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard later this year.

The Last IE
IE 11 is the last version of Internet Explorer and it doesn't have much life remaining for Windows 7 users, as Windows 7 will fall out of support on Jan. 14, 2020. However, IE 11 is still supported on Windows 10, per Microsoft's system requirements.

Microsoft's Monday announcement noted that "the large majority of the Windows ecosystem now runs IE11 and/or Microsoft Edge."

Internet Explorer's use has radically declined over the years. IE use represented just 9.2 percent of traffic per the U.S. government's Digital Analytics Program's sampling, which measures browser traffic at U.S. government Web sites. Traffic predominantly came from Chrome (45.6 percent) and Safari (31.4 percent) browsers, according to those stats. The Microsoft Edge browser, which is now shifting to use the Google-fostered Chromium engine, represented just 4.3 percent of the traffic sampled.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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