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The king is dead

May 30, 2014

They say the only constant is change, and a month or so ago there was a big change in the world of Microsoft when they decided to no longer make updates for the thirteen year old 'Windows XP' operating system. This has important implications for those of use writing web applications.  

Microsoft Windows XP ran on over a billion personal computers, which is an impressive number, but for us as web application developers the more significant number was that none of those machines could run a recent version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser.

This deliberate tactic of forcing people to upgrade their whole machine just to use the latest web sites probably back fired overall, with people instead choosing to run more modern web browsers like FireFox and Chrome over the increasingly creaking Internet Explorer 8 - the last version that ran on Windows XP.
Indeed there was evidence that right up until only a few months ago 30% of people on the internet were still using Windows XP !

But all that has now changed with Windows XP reaching what Microsoft call 'end of life', which means the supported Microsoft systems are all able to run at least Internet Explorer 9 - which is a huge step up in performance and features for those of us who have to work with it's internals.

Thanks to the dire warnings from all and sundry about the danger of continuing to use Windows XP with no further security updates yet along bug fixes, we've seen a dramatic drop in users who use the older versions of IE in general and Windows XP in particular.
chart showing dramatic tail off to the right

So, if you are still holding on to Internet Explorer 8, now is a great time to try a replacement browser or even a modern operating system, as more and more web applications will stop working for you otherwise.
Google Mail already doesn't even support Internet Explorer 9 saying:

"new browsers are more than just a modern convenience,
they are a necessity for what the future holds."

Posted by Tom Chiverton

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