On January 12, 2016 Microsoft officially ended support for Internet Explorer (IE) 8-10. After making the announcement 18 months prior the day finally arrived. Internet Explorer survives only as the last version, 11 and only on Windows 7, 8 and 10.
Since most Windows 8 instances should be upgraded to Windows 10 by now you can disregard Windows 8.
Internet Explorer lives on Windows 7 and 10 only because Enterprises need IE to support legacy applications they have not upgraded to modern web standards yet.
Enterprises and many businesses either license or build custom business software. We call this line of business software because it helps run the businesses operations. Unfortunately, even though they spend large amounts of money, most of this software is rarely updated. Many of these applications use web front-ends that were written to now obsolete standards. Many do what you would consider, bad software practices, like browser sniffing and failing to keep libraries and frameworks up to date.
Many of the legacy standards and techniques these applications were written against have either been deprecated or replaced by better native browser APIs. For example, all Flash applets can be replaced with native HTML, like the video and audio elements.
Enterprises can still execute legacy web applications in IE 11 using Enterprise Mode, but should already be upgrading those systems to modern standards.
Now that legacy Internet Explorer is dead here are 6 things you should do today.
1. Update Your DOCTYPE
The DOCTYPE is not an HTML element, it is a browser directive. Back in the HTML 4.0 days this tag was used to tell the browser what version of HTML the page was written. That technique has long since been abandoned by all browsers, but many developers use outdated templates and development tools that still include the old versions.
HTML5 kept the DOCTYPE so old browsers would not break, rendering the page in Quirks Mode. Today the DOCTYPE tag should only be added as the following:
This is a common technique used in the HEAD element to load IE specific CSS files. You can use this hacky If statement chain to load IE version specific CSS and is often chained with if IE 7, if IE 8 if IE9. You no longer need this excess fat, so do a global search and replace on your applications.
3. Standardize on the latest jQuery Version
If you are still using jQuery please upgrade to the latest version, 3.2.0. If you are using any version starting with 1 or 2 you are out of date.
This is another opportunity to fix the web in general. jQuery usage is very fragmented because sites use so many varieties of jQuery. Once a version is added to a site it is never updated to the latest. You should always ship the latest version of a dependency because you get the latest bug fixes and potential security patches.
Getting the web synchronized on version 2.2.0 also means less HTTP traffic as the library can more easily be cached from common CDNs. This is a win-win for everyone.
4. Stop Using ActiveX Controls
ActiveX is a dead technology and is the number attack mechanism in Internet Explorer. Edge does not support ActiveX and you should not either. If you need video, stop using Flash and switch the the Video or Audio HTML elements.
HTML5, CSS3 and ECMAScript have come a long way in the past 7 years. Most likely what you are using an insecure ActiveX control to do can be done better with a native solution today.
5. Remove X-UA-Compatible
The X-UA-Compatible META element is an Internet Explorer browser directive to tell older versions of IE which rendering engine to use. IE stopped using that element in the past year as only the latest version (11) is supported unless the site is designated for Enterprise Mode.
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=edge">
X-UA-Compatible is now just wasted characters with no one listening.
6. Remove Internet Explorer 10, 9, 8 and 7 Support From Your Project Requirements
This has long been the bane of the web developer's life, adding hacks and workarounds to support these old, outdated browsers. No more, if your project requires supporting these browsers today is the day you should push back and get that requirement stricken for good. Go ahead call an emergency meeting and declare those requirements dead, drop the mic and walk out of the room. Yeah, it feels good to be a gangster.
If your company insist on supporting browsers Microsoft does not support then might I suggest looking for a new job elsewhere. Seriously your company wants to live in the past, as a technologist you cannot afford to live there, you must live in the present or future. I would consider this a major issue. Again if your company has applications that have not been upgraded yet, they should be running Internet Explorer 11 in Enterprise Mode.
If your marketing or business folks push back, concerned they might be eliminating a large potential market, ask them if that is true. This might be a good signal the potential customer is not a qualified buyer or maybe a high maintenance buyer.
Remove those legacy browser support requirements, your project will become much easier to build and you can start focusing on building rich web applications your customers will love!
Today is the day! While Internet Explorer is not quite dead it only lives on Windows 7 and Enterprises, for now. Today is the day to start pushing your applications forward and leaving that costly support burden behind.