'End of support' means largely the same as it did for Windows 7 in January. While the program will still be functional if already installed, it will no longer receive security updates, even if you're subscribed to Microsoft 365. Considering a browser is the most common way to download unverified software, it leaves users exposed to potential malware and viruses.
Indeed, only a few days ago a memory corruption vulnerability was discovered in Internet Explorer. Microsoft was able to resolve the problem relatively quickly, but that will simply not be the case once it reaches end of support.
Perhaps the only surprise here is that it's taken so long. Internet Explorer's decline seemed to coincide with the rise of Google Chrome to web browser supremacy and was replaced by Edge as Microsoft's main web browser in 2015.
However, that 'legacy' version of Edge is set to suffer the same fate next year, with Microsoft heavily promoting the browser's new Chromium-based version. As you might guess from the name, the new Edge is powered by the same technology as Google's browser, with Microsoft hoping to win on privacy, control and integration with Windows apps.
It means there's no real place for Internet Explorer, a browser that received its last major update more than a decade ago and has frequently been the but of jokes in recent times due to a perceived lack of speed.
However, 2021 will mark the end of an illustrious 26-year history for Internet Explorer (IE), which made its debut on Windows 95. At this time, the internet as we know it was in its infancy, making IE one of the defining pieces of software in the modern technological era.
Its influence may have waned in recent years, but we shouldn't forget just how popular Internet Explorer was in its heyday.
Looking for an alternative? Check out our guide to the best web browsers currently available.