Much like car companies stop producing replacement parts for older vehicles, software companies discontinue support for older versions of their software. And for good reason! To stay in business, resources need to be devoted to developing newer, faster, better products.

In the case of this article, Microsoft is discontinuing support for Internet Explorer (IE) 7, 8, 9, 10. The most current version is IE11. Internet Explorer is being replaced by Microsoft Edge, which is included with Windows 10.

The nice thing is upgrades to the latest version (IE11 or Edge) are free! Free software that’s actively supported is fantastic.   : )

What are the business implications?

You should run your business on current/supported software. Software that is updated is less vulnerable to malicious attacks, generally faster and more feature rich.

HOWEVER – there are times when an application will not run on a newer version of a web browser. In other words, we’re aware of several applications that our customers currently use that REQUIRE IE9 or older. They won’t run on IE11.

And to make matters worse, some applications will only run on IE – you can’t easily switch to Chrome, Firefox or other browsers.

Affected businesses are left with two poor choices:

  • Run on the older version of the browser (IE9) knowing that it is a security risk. This isn’t an option, especially when it comes to protecting healthcare/HIPAA data.
  • Find a software vendor that keeps up-to-date better than your current one. Also, not a great option. Migrating to a new MRP or EHR could cost 10’s or 100’s of thousands of dollars.

This is the odd article where I don’t have a specific or easy-to-implement resolution!

I can’t tell you to stop using IE9 if you run your business on a piece of software that requires IE9. Likewise, I can’t tell you to keep using IE9 knowing that you’re putting your data at risk,

What do you do?

Good question. As we look for the short-term solution, start planning long-term.

Long Term: Look for a vendor that pledges to keep current. In other words, Microsoft announced the retirement of IE7-10 about 1.5 years ago. If your software vendor hasn’t made adjustments to their software yet, you have to ask why they haven’t kept up? If their answer isn’t satisfactory, begin looking for a software vendor that better understands the modern software lifecycle.

Short Term: Ask your I.T. service provider about your options. It’s possible the software you need to run will work with a supported version of Chrome or Firefox (or others). Another option: while IE10 is being retired, there are some situations where it will continue to be supported (like using it on a terminal server).

Modern software needs to be kept up-to-date to remain functional, efficient and safe-to-use. Several years ago, you might buy a piece of software intent on using it for 15 years. With the bad guys working diligently to exploit every hole in every piece of software, those days are over. We need software companies to let go of the old and embrace the new. It’s our job, as consumers, to demand and expect security.