back to article Move to the latest IE, or suck it: January’s cold comfort for Microsoft hangouts

The start of 2016 is crunch time if you’re running legacy Microsoft browsers. From January 12, 2016, a huge swath of Internet Explorer versions will no longer get security fixes or updates from Microsoft. IE 8, 9 and IE 10 on Windows 7 SP1 will all slip out of extended support. Microsoft will only support IE9 on Vista SP2, 11 …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Why suddenly stop with IE11, now that they're shoving advertising, new telemetry, and even an operating system whether you asked for it or not down Windows Update?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hundreds of millions of PCs on Windows 7 alone with up to 400 to 500 million PCs in total needing to get to IE 11

    Nobody NEEDS IE 11 apart from lame devs and purchasing managers who haven't a clue how to make something cross platform and standards compliant.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like this will have any effect

    People who actually use legacy versions of IE for one reason or another don't bother to apply patches for it. In any case botnet herders will be quite happy with this.

  4. P. Lee

    Cross platform or package dependencies

    Don't leave chunks of your app to be provided by someone else unless it's a free license and has distributed repositories.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Once upon a time MS had this great idea about proprietary lock-in. Encourage customers to use those non-proprietary bits & pieces to build mission-critical applications and they were committed to using MS platforms for life. Except that now MS want to EoL those proprietary bits it means either abandoning those locked-in customers or charging them for extended support whilst they incur further costs in rebuilding the applications. In practice a good many of those customers are going to just keep using the old platforms as long as they can; if they isolate them from the net then there's probably no great harm in that as long as the hardware lasts. But for those current customers who rebuild are they going to think more carefully about having control over their own destinies in the future? And will that mean reducing their dependence on MS?

    1. Palpy

      "...reducing their dependence on MS?"

      Not at the place I work. MS is so deep in the organization's wallet that they call and complain about the smell when an administrator passes gas. The policy-setters and purchasers are not backing away from MS, they're climbing farther into the boat. Maybe this organization is off the bell curve. Maybe not.

    2. Bob Dole (tm)

      >>Once upon a time MS had this great idea about proprietary lock-in. Encourage customers to use those non-proprietary bits...

      You're absolutely right. The missing part though was the number of developers that *knew* this and *still* chose to use those bits. I'm a veteran of the browser wars. I was coding websites almost 20 years ago and I remember clearly fighting with other devs who wanted to throw in every little trick that a specific browser implemented for internal corporate web apps.

      The programmers that didn't do this had successful apps which didn't break every time one of the browsers had a new release. The one's that did always moved on to new companies leaving behind piles of broken crap.

      Yes, MS deserves a lot of blame for enabling the behavior. At the same time the programmers of those "legacy" apps deserve far more because they should have known better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This. You've brought back some serious nightmares. Aside from refresh logic, the only thing I used Javascript for was browser and browser version detection. Never again.

  6. Gray
    Facepalm

    Another enhanced user experience!

    Am not an IT or SysAdmin type here; just one of the millions about to be run off the MS cliff. Question: is there a practical way to totally remove IE from a desktop installation, say from XP forwards, without totally borking the OS?

    My attempts have been thwarted at every turn; MS won't even let me kill the desktop icon. I haven't used it in years (I rely on FF instead)) but there it sits, mocking me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another enhanced user experience!

      if there's a desktop icon, you're on XP. 7 doesn't have one by default (I know, I just checked the 7 box I'm typing from) and neither did Vista.

      If you're on XP and you're connecting to the internet - ie, if you posted your comment from an XP machine - you're a fool and you will get what you deserve.

      1. Gray
        Devil

        Re: Another enhanced user experience!

        If you're on XP and you're connecting to the internet - ie, if you posted your comment from an XP machine a Windows machine - you're a fool and you will get what you deserve.

        Thanks for your helpful advice, Mr. Coward. As for that, you can see that I've fixed it for you.

        The prime machines in our household (my desktop; my laptop; my wife's desktop; her laptop) all run Debian Linux ver. 8.1 (Jessie).

        BUT ... my wife has legacy sewing/embroidery software that runs (offline!) on a dual-boot XP install. Damned if I'll pony up another couple thousand to replace that software just because MS tells us to piss off! (No, Win 7 is not an option. Even if I took a chance on reinstalling that costly software on Win 7 (which itself is withdrawn from the market) Win7 is on the abandonware track. Will her software run on Win8/8.1/10 ? No. End of argument. I find that life is far more pleasant if I keep the wife happy, and tell MS to go piss up a rope.

        As for MY other laptops (two of them) that DO run XP ... both are very specialized Mil-Spec ruggedized units (Itronix IX-260+) that are subject to rough handling in field conditions and in a saltwater marine environment aboard my blue-water sailboat. One is used for navigation software that runs reliably under XP. In case it escapes the critics, the last place one wants computer failure or constant upgrade pitfalls, it's in life & safety critical apps such as navigation. (Two marine laptops: one is prime; the second is backup. And we have paper charts, extra GPS units, and a sextant. Belt, suspenders, and a rope in the pocket!) And the backup IX-260+ is also loaded with HAM radio software for land and marine mobile use ... which also runs just fine under XP.

        Upgrade the laptops with something new & shiny? WHY? A mil-spec machine costs thousands of dollars; to gain nothing over what I've got. And these two laptops have unique drivers that Win7 or 8/8.1 won't provide, and Win10 is a total loss since it won't install.

        So, Mr. Coward ... take a moment before you vent your wisdom out your blowhole. Some of us have special needs. Blindly following the lemmings down the MS path isn't in our best interests.

        --Gray

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Another enhanced user experience!

          I'm sure that Linux Mint is very good and a very viable solution to a lot of problems.

          However, I am discouraged from using it by the nature and tone of most of its proponents.

          If there are a more condescending and sanctimonious bunch of jerks on the web I haven't seen them yet. I've no wish to be part of anything that creates that kind of attitude.

          It's a general Linux thing anyway, but there must be something about Mint that causes people to sink down to even greater depths of supercilious jerkery.

          Those wishing to proselytise should consider changing their holier-than-thou approach.

          1. TCook1943

            Re: Another enhanced user experience!

            While I can to an extent relate to suggestions that Linux users tend to go overboard in praise of the system as a recent refugee from Windows I can take their point.

            Windows appears to be an imminent train crash of monumental proportions in an uncomfortably large set of area's of which the central theme seems to be, "We know best".

            Inescapable "upgrades", "write home to mother" and the attitude that buying the damned product conveys no rights to you the poor bloody user are just the tip of the mountain up which I slid, thanks to my anti-gravity drive, towards Linux.

            Given that the vast majority of people here prefer, to and are well capable of, managing their own systems I am truly surprised by the anti Linux attitudes often expressed.

            I would not advocate leaving MS completely, I have a copy of XP running off line for special purposes and a VM running Win8.1 for Netflix for example but always have the comfortable knowledge that I am in control of my system and that to quote others here that MS can go urinate up a rope.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Another enhanced user experience!

              I'm not anti-Linux, I'm most OS-agnostic. Although I haven't completely apostatised from Windows yet I do use plenty of Linux.

              My point was really that those that some pro-Linux attitudes do the movement no favours. Trying to sell your scene by belittling people is going to come up against human nature and is counter productive. Hence the anti-Linux backlash comments that you sometimes see.

              I think the visual image that most people have of a typical Linux zealot is Comic-Book Guy from the Simpsons.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Another enhanced user experience!

          my wife has legacy sewing/embroidery software that runs (offline!) on a dual-boot XP install. ... I find that life is far more pleasant if I keep the wife happy, and tell MS to go piss up a rope.

          My only advice is to make preparations for long-term maintenance, ie. beyond the life of the box currently being used, whilst parts are readily available on eBay etc.. Because it will fail, specifically the HDD, but also parts within the chassis - I've got a couple of machines where internal plastic components have, due to prolonged exposure to heat, become hard and brittle (cooling fan assembly on one, and the other the CPU heat sink mounting/retaining bracket).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another enhanced user experience!

      There is a very easy way to get rid of IE on XP, it's called Mint and is a supported and secure OS unlike XP. If you can't afford the windows upgrade then consider free alternatives.

      Do others a favour and don't become part of a botnet, get a secure OS.

      1. Chika

        Re: Another enhanced user experience!

        *sigh* Not helping.

        We know that XP users are out there using the Internet. We also know that users of XP, Vista and so on may find themselves locked into a particular browser for all sorts of reasons and moving to Linux Mint (please note that Linux is NOT Mint) is no more a solution than moving to any other Linux distro, moving to a Mac or even just moving to a more recent version of Windows.

        As far as it goes, the A/C has the right of it in that all you really need to do is to remove the icon. It is possible to remove Internet Explorer entirely but if you never use it, chances are that you won't suffer because of it.

        If, however, you really wish to get rid of it, there are a number of pages around that go into detail about this sort of thing. Since it is usually installed as a Windows Feature in many of the more recent versions, it can be switched off from the Control Panel though updated machines may need the updates removed as well. However, what it will do to the system depends on what you use the system for and what might rely on IE.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another enhanced user experience!

          I think I'm being misinterpreted here, I only suggest mint for two reasons, it's free and the first distro that came into my head. Windows upgrades or macs cost money(cough legally) so I was suggesting a free way as the rig running XP is likely to be a piece of old shit not worth spending a dime on.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: Another enhanced user experience!

        and its minty fresh too! It has that Ring of Confidence and is suitable for the Very Sensitive

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Another enhanced user experience!

      > is there a practical way to totally remove IE from a desktop installation, say from XP forwards, without totally borking the OS?

      Wouldn't recommend totally removing IE. I'd just delete the desktop icon and ensure the default browser for all user accounts is set to your preferred browser. The catch is that services such as Windows Update work best with IE, also if you use MS Office and/or other products, I'm pretty sure they also depend on IE for their web capabilities.

  7. Herby Silver badge
    Coat

    I understand...

    That there is something called Firefox that a similar job and is being updated regularly without these "service packs".

    Maybe this is a better solution.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: I understand...

      And this Firefox you speak of, is it fully compliant with the IE6 extensions and renders identically to IE6 and supports all IE6 ActiveX controls? No, didn't think so.

      These people are normally stuck with older versions of Windows and older versions of IE for a specific reason - the sites they need to use for business only work on IE6 (and with a bit of luck maybe IE7 or IE8). The company invested millions at the turn of the century in this technology and aren't yet ready to re-invest in getting it updated to modern standards.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: I understand...

        "The company invested millions at the turn of the century in this technology and aren't yet ready to re-invest in getting it updated to modern standards."

        I wonder if the directors are still running around in company cars from the turn of the century. Oh, silly me, of course not. Something as important as a free set of wheels needs serious investment to keep it up to date, whereas the means to actually operate as a business can safely be neglected for a decade or two whilst we cash in our share options.

  8. adnim Silver badge
    Devil

    Love me forever, or not at all,

    End of our tether, backs to the wall,

    Give me your hand,

    Don't you ever ask why,

    Promise me nothing, live 'till we die,

    Everything changes,

    Live all stays the same,

    Everyone guilty, no one to blame,

    Every way out,

    Brings you back to the start,

    Everyone dies

    To break somebody's heart,

    We are the system, we are the law,

    We are corruption, worm in the core,

    One of another, laugh 'til you cry,

    Faith unto death or knife in the eye.

    Love me or leave me, tell me no lies,

    Ask me no questions, send me no spies,

    You know love's a thief,

    Steal your heart in the night,

    Slip through your fingers,

    You best hold on tight.

    - Philip Taylor, Philip Campbell, Ian Kilmister, Michael Burston

  9. ColonelClaw

    I know one person who uses IE, and it's because he has to at work. That's it, no-one else; no friends, family, colleagues, or basically anyone I ever meet uses IE that I know of.

    Considering IE still has enormous usage on a global scale, where are all these people hiding? Am I missing out on some secret sect?

    1. theOtherJT

      Re: where are all these people hiding?

      In offices like ours all around the country - and I would imagine the world.

      We have a pair of "web" apps that we need to run. They cost a fortune, there's no timetable for replacing them, and because they were written by complete cowboys in the first place they don't work on anything other than IE, so we're stuck with it.

      We've tried to convince our users that IE should be used ONLY for access to these apps, and that they should use Chrome or Firefox for web browsing, but given the technical knowledge of most of our users (possibly somewhere in the root -1 area) it just doesn't go in.

      1. gerdesj Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        Re: where are all these people hiding?

        "We've tried to convince our users that IE should be used ONLY for access to these apps, "

        A web proxy can trivially refuse interweb access based on the user agent string presented by the browser. Obviously it can be subverted - but you say your users are not too clued up.

        You can then make IE "internal apps only" and FF/Chrome etc "internet access". You could even dump three preconfigured icons on their desktops: App1, App2, Internet. The third one could be labelled "Facebook and kitty pictures" if you need to spell out it's real use.

        1. Havin_it
          Boffin

          Re: where are all these people hiding?

          >You can then make IE "internal apps only" and FF/Chrome etc "internet access". You could even dump three preconfigured icons on their desktops: App1, App2, Internet. The third one could be labelled "Facebook and kitty pictures" if you need to spell out it's real use.

          Hear hear, and not limited to different browsers either. I got IE hidden away as soon as my place let me, but we had a financial portal that I thought best to insulate from any potentially risky everyday-browsing activity. So I just created a second Firefox profile, set its homepage to the portal URL, and nobbled the UI with userChrome.css so it was basically kiosk-like with just the viewport showing. I slapped a shortcut to it on the desktop; with a custom icon people probably don't even realise it's a browser.

          I haven't enforced anything with a proxy as you suggest, and I suppose a user could visit the portal in the non-gimped browser instance and open it up to XSS risks etc... but they'd have to actually know the URL, which they never have and would be unlikely to stumble on.

          Profiles are an oft-overlooked and very handy feature of Firefox, as is userChrome.css. Shame that when Gecko/XUL bites the dust, all that UI customisability most likely goes with it :(

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: where are all these people hiding?

        +1 "root -1" reference. Trying to explain why you would to use two different programs that "do the same thing" isn't any fun at all.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: where are all these people hiding?

        "We've tried to convince our users that IE should be used ONLY for access to these apps"

        Can you not enforce this through creative use of firewall rules or GPO? A little googling suggests that there are GPO options for blacklisting or whitelisting particular sites for IE, but I freely admit that this isn't my day job so perhaps it is harder than it ought to be.

        1. theOtherJT

          Re: where are all these people hiding?

          Can you not enforce this through creative use of firewall rules or GPO?

          Sadly, no, we can't. Well, we could, but when we tried it caused a whole ton of people to throw a fit and force us to back down. These things can generate "reports"* and frequently contained within the data they're drawing from when they generate these "reports" are links to random other websites that have to be trawled and included.

          The whole thing is a fucking mess.

          *Hideous ugly bundles of raw HTML banged inside a zip file

    2. Chika
      Big Brother

      There are two specific types who tend to be the worst affected here.

      You mention the first - work users. This is normally because the users need Internet Explorer (sometimes even a specific version) to be able to do certain things, from programs and interfaces to portals, as well as where the admins use certain policy restrictions to control work usage which other browsers do not acknowledge.

      The second group is the home user group that do not have the technical savvy to use anything other than what is supplied fresh out of the box. it's hardly a small group and it's one of those groups that tend to be the biggest source of worry because these are the folk that may be using an unprotected system as an administrator using the Internet, opening and following spam and clicking on anything that looks even remotely official.

      You may guess from both these examples that I don't necessarily hold Microsoft directly responsible for what goes on here...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NHS

    Well thats the NHS screwed then. Badly developed apps mean versions of IE soooo old that you cant use the browser for anything else and have to have another modern one installed.

    Maybe they pay MS lillions to keep them running like they did with XP

    1. dogged

      Re: NHS

      They can afford it. They're cutting junior doctor's pay by >= 30%

      You didn't know? It's not being reported? I am shocked.

  11. Mikel

    Cut your other leg off

    Part of the rationale for sticking with Windows is legacy apps, so they have to get you to cut those fingers off a few at a time. You are still going to pay to expire all your software, but you don't have to do it all at once and be free - you can do it a few things at a time and pay forever and ever.

    Of course now that more and more things are mobile and web based, that strategy is going away too. Whatever will they do?

  12. joed

    or just go IE 1355

    takes 1 restart. Out of sight, out of mind. And good riddance.

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