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Stephen Belovarich
Stephen Belovarich

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The New IE Is Not Mobile Safari

On January 15th, 2020 Microsoft released a version of Edge based off the the Chromium open source project. That's right! Microsoft Edge is basically Chrome now. The release didn't stop with Windows. Microsoft deployed the completely refactored Edge browser for Android, iOS, and MacOS as well. No love for Linux I guess. You can download Microsoft Edge from the official site.

I have to admit I was a bit weary of installing Microsoft Edge on MacOS. A Microsoft browser hasn't been installed on any Apple computer I've owned since 2003 when Microsoft ceased development of Internet Explorer 5 for MacOS. Just another browser we have to support I guess. I’m hoping there is no difference between Edge on Windows vs. Edge on MacOS. Fat chance of that. Before you know it I’ll be spinning up a VM to test a bug for Edge in Windows 10 I can’t replicate in MacOS.

I've heard time and again the past couple years engineers joking that Safari is the new Internet Explorer. Well I am here to tell you something different. The new IE is not Safari... the new IE is not Mobile Safari.

That's right! The new IE is... you guessed it...

Internet Explorer 11 is still receiving security updates. So keep dreaming folks... keep dreaming of the day you won't have to support a version of Internet Explorer.

Some engineers may scoff at the notion of supporting a browser with 2% market share. Analytics are key when discussing whether to support the browser or not. Suppose you work for a company where 2% of users still visit your landing page from Internet Explorer 11. The goal of any landing page is to convert customers to actual users. If the company makes $500,000,000 in revenue every year that 2% equates to $10,000,000 in potential missed revenue if your team don't support Internet Explorer 11. That 2% could mean the difference between funding a R&D budget or not, the difference between getting a bonus or not, the difference between keeping your job and getting laid off.

W3Counter shows IE11 currently has 2.3% global market share.

2% is nothing compared to the roughly 50% of users on mobile devices. If you think supporting Safari or Android browsers is a pain, you may have something else coming to you when the Product Owner on your team says you need to support any browser above 1% in market share because it is in the contract. Analytics are your friend or your worst enemy. Internet Explorer may have greater than 2% global market share, but is that same statistic found in your site's analytics?

Supporting IE11 is not that bad. You may have to transpile your app down to ES5 because of partial support for ES2015, polyfill the latest CSS modules and browser APIs. The hoops you have to jump through are nothing compared to 2015 when some of us had to support IE8 or IE9.

Internet Explorer 11 is the black sheep of the family for the foreseeable future. If you think there really is no excuse for any user to be viewing a website on Internet Explorer, maybe ask your local IT department why they still deploy IE with corporate installations of Windows. There is probably a business use case for why employees still need Internet Explorer. There is also an opportunity for any enterprising web engineers who want to provide a better, modern solution compared to that legacy application that only runs in Internet Explorer.

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