Microsoft recently announced that users will no longer be able to use most, if not all, of their 365 applications and services on the Internet Explorer and legacy Edge browsers after August 2021. This shouldn’t come as a shock, as they’ve been hinting at discontinuing this browser since 2015. Regardless, what does it mean for you and your clients and how can you prepare for this impending change?
What happens after August 2021
Luckily, Microsoft isn’t going to cut users off cold, as they’ve been doing a steady job of moving Windows 10 users to the new Chromium-based browser for the past few years. But for users that haven’t completely switched to the latest browser, there are some things to keep in mind. For starters, you won’t be able to access new browser features, and will be susceptible to bugs, broken links and other undesirable effects due to non-existent support when trying to use Microsoft 365 applications. With that said, managed service providers (MSPs) should make sure they ask clients what browser they use company-wide and communicate that in the coming months they’ll need to completely switch to the latest Chromium-based Edge.
Internet Explorer 11 (IE), legacy Edge and Chromium-based Edge
So far we’ve mentioned three different versions of Internet Explorer. Obviously, this can be a bit confusing, but there’s a few differences between each of these browsers. And remember, Internet Explorer and legacy Edge are the browsers losing support and reaching EOL for Microsoft applications.
Internet Explorer (IE) has been around since 1995, which makes it one of the oldest browsers still in use today. But Microsoft is finally shutting it down to make room for more compatible web surfing experiences. IE 11 will no longer support certain Microsoft 365 applications (Teams, for example) as early as November 30, 2020, and will reach complete EOL on August 17, 2021. It will, however, still be available due to Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policy for devices it was originally installed on. But for most new computers, IE was already being replaced with Legacy Edge and Chromium-based Edge.
Microsoft Edge Legacy is the HTML-based browser launched with Windows 10 in July 2015. It was the default browser on Windows 10 PCs. Legacy will go EOL in early March of 2021, shortly before Internet Explorer 11.
The Chromium-based Edge was a collaboration between Microsoft and Google to create a more open-source platform at the beginning of 2020. Unlike Legacy Edge, this version supports Chrome extensions, vertical tabs and themes to give it a more modern user experience. With investments in speed, performance and built-in privacy and security features, Microsoft believes it’s the best version of its web browser yet.
Security concerns for end-users
As an MSP, providing your customers with a secure environment is of the utmost importance. If your customers decide (for whatever reason) they don’t want to transition to the supported browser, it could raise some security concerns.
A short term fix to avoid said concerns could be persuading stubborn clients to use IE mode in Edge, which will give them a lot of the functionality they’re used to. Although configurations from legacy Edge like ActiveX controls and Microsoft Edge extensions will still be usable after EOL, there are a few elements from the old IE and legacy Edge browser that will no longer be supported. They include the IE toolbar, IE11 or Edge F12 developer tools (unless you use the IE chooser) and the IE settings and group policies that affect the navigation system.
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