Patch halt looms for half of all IE users

Meanwhile, early data shows that 40% of Windows 10 users are running something other than the default Edge

Piñata de Internet Explorer
Credit: flickr/Javier Aroche

With just over four months left before Microsoft stops serving security updates to most versions of Internet Explorer (IE) other than IE11, nearly half of all IE users are still running a soon-to-be-retired edition, new data released Saturday showed.

In August 2014, Microsoft abruptly told virtually all IE users that they needed to be running IE11 by Jan. 12, 2016, or face a shut-off of security updates. After that date, Microsoft will support IE9 only on Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008; IE10 only on Windows Server 2012; and only IE11 on Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

Although Windows 10 includes the new Edge browser, it also bundles IE11 for businesses, which need the older browser to run their line-of-business Web apps and intranet sites.

As of the end of July, 49% of all IE users were still running versions other than IE11, according to statistics published by analytics vendor Net Applications over the weekend. Only a fraction of IE users -- two-tenths of one percentage point -- ditched a retires-in-January version last month, a significantly smaller portion than each month during the previous half-year.

Through July, 50.3% of all instances of IE were IE11, Net Applications said. Substantial fractions of the IE user base, however, continued to run editions slated for shutoff, notably IE8, which accounted for 24.6% of all copies of the browser. But IE9 (13.6%) and IE10 (9.6%) also remained in wide use.

While consumers with Windows 7 PCs may have largely migrated to IE11 -- Microsoft began automatically upgrading their browsers to IE11 in 2013 -- enterprises will be hard pressed to drop the other versions before the deadline. Analysts have pointed out that before large organizations can even think about migrating to Windows 10, they first must get off pre-IE11 editions.

Other data posted by Net Applications for July again showed that Google's Chrome has benefited most from Microsoft's pull-the-IE-plug mandate.

Chrome gained another four-tenths of a percentage point of user share, which Net Applications estimates by measuring unique visitors to its clients' websites, then tallying which browser they used to do so. About 80% of the decline in Internet Explorer's overall user share last month went to Chrome. (Much of the rest went to Apple's Safari, which runs only on OS X.)

For July, Chrome's user share stood at 27.7%, second only to IE's 53.5% and more than double Mozilla Firefox's 12%.

Since Microsoft laid down the law in a year ago, Chrome's user share has increased by 8 percentage points, representing a 41% uptick. Nearly two-thirds of Chrome's gains came at the expense of IE, whose user share has dropped 5 percentage points, a 9% decline.

IE now stands at about the same user share level as in March 2012, just months after it hit bottom and began climbing out of that hole thanks to changing how IE reached customers: In early 2012, Microsoft began silently upgrading IE without asking for users' permission, which it had done previously.

Microsoft's new Edge browser, available only for Windows 10, finally registered on Net Applications' tracking stats for July. Edge accounted for 0.26% of all Microsoft browsers.

Net Applications' user share for Windows 10 for July was 0.43% of all Windows-powered systems. The disparity between the Edge and Windows 10 numbers -- 0.26% for the former, 0.43% for the latter -- signals that about 4 out of every 10 Windows 10 users relied on a browser other than Edge.

That non-Edge number may drop as more mainstream Windows PC owners upgrade to Windows 10 -- the out-the-gate adoption was primarily by beta testers and those eager to be on the cutting edge -- because Microsoft has dictated that Edge becomes the Windows 10 default browser if the user accepts the "Express Settings" during the upgrade process.

Mozilla, maker of Firefox, has criticized Microsoft for that practice. Last week, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard demanded that his rival chief executive, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, step in to eliminate Windows 10's browser switcheroo.

In-use IE slated for Jan. Data: Net Applications

The decline of Microsoft browsers other than IE11 -- the only one that will be supported for most users come January 2016 -- stagnated in July.

This story, "Patch halt looms for half of all IE users" was originally published by Computerworld.

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