Microsoft will discontinue support for older versions of its iconic browser, Internet Explorer, on January 12. This is another step on its march toward modernity, already evidenced by the advent of the Cortana virtual assistant and the other tech goodies enabled by Windows 10.
The move may inconvenience some, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise; Microsoft announced as early as August of 2014 that support for the browser would be ending.
Upgrading to the company's new browser, Microsoft Edge, is extremely easy to do. But, in reality, Internet Explorer isn't being abandoned quite yet. For now, Microsoft will continue to support Internet Explorer 11, the latest version of the browser, with security upgrades. And, somewhat surprisingly, the company will also continue supporting Internet Explorer 9 on machines running Windows Vista Service Pack 2, at least for now. Other versions of Explorer will no longer receive security updates or technical support.
There’s no need to panic if you can’t upgrade right away. Your browser will continue to work normally, just without protection from new viruses. Unfortunately, that means if a virus finds a way into your older version of Internet Explorer, you can’t count on Microsoft to patch it up, and you can count on hackers to go after users who haven’t upgraded to a more secure web browser.
Ending support should spur consumers holding off on switching web browsers to try out Microsoft’s two options: Internet Explorer 11, or the more modern Microsoft Edge, with the latter available only for Windows 10 PCs. Microsoft Edge ditches backwards compatibility, which should force the hand of businesses that might be sluggish in updating their browsers. It’s a more modern-looking browser, and supports Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana, as well as touchscreen use on tablets and convertible PCs.
If you browse the web at home, upgrading to a more secure or alternative web browser is simple enough. Turning on automatic updates and checking for updates should take care of the upgrade for you. If you’re upgrading to Microsoft Edge, the company offers a quick tutorial on how to import your old bookmarks to the new web browser. Or do things the old-fashioned way and download Edge manually from the Microsoft site.
Of course, if you’re abandoning Internet Explorer entirely, it’s a perfect time to check out some alternative browsers from companies such as Google and Apple.
Google Chrome is available on nearly every operating system, from iOS to Windows. You can sign in with your Google account and take your bookmarks, extensions, and other Google services wherever you can run Chrome, including on a Chromebook.
Apple offers its own browser, Safari, for Windows, iOS, and Mac. You can keep track of bookmarks, just like in Google Chrome, but also your Reading List, a feature that saves sites for you to read later.
Copyright © 2005-2016 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.