January 15, 2016 Jose

Death of a Browser

Something very close to you has died, and I’ve never been so excited to hear about a death in my entire life.

Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Lord Voldemort…the vengeful macabre of their deaths were exhilarating—even invigorating. But these pale in comparison to this sublimely blissful event: a single occurrence so meaningful, so desired, that the simple mention of it unleashes rapturous cheers. Everyone prayed for this death. For so many, this single demise will bring life to so much. It is the blood sacrifice upon which all future crops shall thrive.

On January 12th, Microsoft killed Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10. They will no longer support the demon spawns of their engineers’ loins, and without this support, these spawns shall slowly wilt and shrivel. And when they finally dry in the brutal sun, disintegrating into dust and bursting forth into a gust of wind to spread into diluted ineffectuality, we shall all be free at last, free at last.

And how shall Microsoft throttle this milky teat? Thusly: They will no longer issue security updates; they will no longer provide bug patches; they will no longer offer call-support. They will cease any and all association with the product. In a sense, it’s more like they exiled their own brood than flat-out murdered them. If you dial into Microsoft’s cold complex and ask for help with one of their forgotten, deported, and diseased children, Microsoft will promptly say they have no memory of them and hang up. IE 8, 9, and 10 have been cut from all the family photos, the scraps fed to the fire with nary a tear. They are excommunicated from Gates’ church. On pain of deletion, they may never return to their hometown of Redmond, WA; the townsfolk are standing hostile and vigilant with arms locked, a bucket of stones resting between each pair of feet.

For shame, Microsoft? Hardly. It is right and good that Microsoft did this. Internet Explorer has tarnished their reputation since the late 90’s, when the government took them to task for forcing their hideous browser—at that time version 4—down the throats of consumers by inextricably tying it to their operating system, Windows. By the time IE7 was released in 2006, Firefox had already proven to the world that there was an entire universe beyond Microsoft and their crappy, bloated offerings. When Google released their sleek browser, Chrome, to the world in 2008, Microsoft rose to the challenge by distributing the ineffectual IE8. And the world slowly began to turn its head from Microsoft forever. It was obvious they were far more concerned with internal pissing contests and layering short-term solutions on top of years of busted software like a pathetic World’s-Largest-Tape-Ball-style Midwestern tourist attraction than providing decent solutions to customers. And by this time, customers had more choices than Harry Styles in a Toledo shopping mall. Some glanced back briefly at the emergence of the Surface tablet…as they pushed open the doors to the Apple store and headed inside to buy an iPad. Too little, too late. Eventually, Microsoft resorted to simple lies: they told everyone they had come to their senses and finally made IE9 a W3C compliancy poster boy for users. It wasn’t. It sucked.

Microsoft had to kill these old tools. This might be a last-ditch effort to save themselves from an anemic future, but they have to try. Yes, they built an empire by supporting long-obsolete products to satisfy large corporate clients too lumbering to change direction with dexterity, but this loyalty to old-school business gave them the appearance of stodginess. Internet Explorer is your grandma’s browser. They wish your grandma was cooler.

What does this mean for all the stragglers still using IE8, 9, or 10? If they know what’s good for them, they’ll realize that Microsoft is begging them to please modernize and join the rest of the proletariat already enjoying the many benefits of the modern web so that they can stop taking all the heat for holding back the entire world. They’d also better protect themselves from malicious attacks from hackers. Think of it: the internet browser is an exit ramp from the information super-highway right into your home. Browsers not regularly updated to protect against the endless parade of dystopian bandits poised to destroy your credit are basically a welcome mat into your bank account.

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If you’re a member of a company or organization still hobbling along with IE8, it’s time to start asking your IT department some hard questions: Why are we still using antiquated software? Do you know internet browsers are free for companies and individuals to download and use? Are you aware of how dangerous the continued use of this browser will be to the security of this company’s proprietary information? Did I wake you?

Most likely your information technology team will tell you they have browser-specific intranet web technologies used by a large population within your company that will no longer work correctly if not opened in IE8. This is IT jargon for, “I’m in the middle of my sandwich.” Don’t believe it. In the vast majority of cases, applications built to run on web browsers will function on any modern browser, with one exception: the styling. And by styling, we’re talking about things like background image handling, rounded corners, drop shadows, and color gradient support.

There’s a chance that you might run into some Javascript issues, but generally speaking, Javascript written to work on IE8 or 9 will, for the most part, work everywhere else, because IE is, for all intents and purposes, the lowest common denominator. In other words, Javascript written for IE should be handled easily by any browser.

This isn’t to say that everything will work perfectly. Some testing and tweaking will have to be performed. But I’m willing to bet that this work would be FAR less expensive than mopping up after a hack on your sensitive company data. The list of benefits continue: does your place of employment ever hire writers, designers, and developers to create web properties for customers or clients? If so, your company would never have to pay for IE8, 9, or 10 development and QA testing ever again. This could mean savings of quite literally thousands of dollars.

xb06j“But hey,” you say, with a quiet sob caught in your throat, “you can make fun of me all you want, but I love IE. I love Microsoft. I tape pictures of Satya Nadella inside my gym locker. What in the world am I supposed to do now?” Dry your cheeks and square your shoulders, you sissy. There is an answer for you. Microsoft will continue to support IE11 on Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. And when the day comes for you to finally set aside your grief and move on with your life, you can upgrade to Microsoft Edge, the brand new browser passionately conceived in Redmond, which many argue is basically a rebranding exercise of IE11. But at least it’s Microsoft rebranding a browser that actually works. And when you do upgrade, for the love of God, turn on the auto-update feature in your settings.

Updating is good. It is healthy. It happens in every facet of life. Mother nature updates all of the time. Lightning strikes in the forest, the old growth burns away and new trees grow in their place, the soil is revitalized, the watershed improved. Volcanos churn the earth. Continents drift, divide, and violently crash and combine to create new masses.

And when things die, you bury them and let them feed new life. This is a cause for celebration, not tears. The old pass away and make room for the young(er) to create a new world. The living cannot exist with the dead. Because it’s creepy. Because it’s unnatural. Because dead things rot. If not dealt with appropriately, rotten things make you sick.

IE8, 9 and 10 are dead.

Long live the browser.