IE users in no rush to discard old versions after Microsoft’s support


Users of Internet Explorer (IE) were in no hurry last month to discard older versions, even after Microsoft told them that their browsers will drop off the support list in early 2016.

In a surprise announcement on Aug. 7, Microsoft said that after Jan. 12, 2016, it would support IE9 only on Windows Vista, IE10 only on Windows Server 2012, and only IE11 on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

IE7 and IE8 will drop off support completely, but others on certain editions of Windows — like IE10 on Windows 7 — will also get the patch axe.

The browsers will continue working, but Microsoft will halt technical support and stop serving security updates for the banned versions. Because of the large number of critical vulnerabilities Microsoft patches in its browser — 110 in the last three months — it will be extremely risky running an unsupported version.

But Microsoft’s mandate did little to change the user share of the various versions of IE last month as measured by metrics vendor Net Applications.

Microsoft’s asking more than two-thirds of current Internet Explorer users to ditch their browser by January 2016.

IE9 actually gained ground. The browser, which is the newest able to run on Vista, added two-tenths of a percentage point to its user share to average 9.2% for August. But because Vista currently powers just 3% of all Windows computers, a majority of IE9 runs on Windows 7, which must dispense with the 2011 browser in under a year and a half.

IE8 will be an even bigger problem. The browser, which is the default for many of the Windows XP PCs still in operation, also was adopted by large numbers of businesses as the standard for Windows 7. That showed in Net Applications’ statistics: IE8 accounted for 21.4% of all browsers last month, down just two-tenths of a percentage point, and 36.6% of all copies of Internet Explorer.

(The difference between the numbers for all browsers and only IE was because Internet Explorer has a 58.5% share of the browser space, not 100%.)

IE6 and IE7 also declined last month, but by minuscule amounts of two-tenths of a point and less than half of one-tenth of a point, respectively. IE6, although no longer supported on Windows XP, is still patched on Windows Server 2003, which is slated for retirement in July 2015.

IE10 barely moved, too: Its user share dropped by less than one-tenth of a point to 6.2% of all browsers, and to 10.6% of all copies of IE.

The only bright spot was 2013’s IE11, which gained about eight-tenths of a percentage point to average 17.6% of all browsers, 30% of all copies of IE.

By the numbers, Microsoft’s customers will have a very hard time scrubbing out-of-date versions of IE by 2016. If IE8 was to magically disappear — which it will not — it would have to shed 1.3 percentage points each month. That would represent an increase of more than 2,000% from its six-month average decline.

Likewise, IE9 will have to be aggressively suppressed. Even if every copy of Vista runs IE9 — certainly not the case — Windows 7 PCs must increase their IE9 disposal rate by 630% to make the monthly quota towards zero.

Overall, the numbers are daunting: Microsoft has taken the unprecedented step of demanding that nearly 70% of its current IE user base migrate to a newer browser, and do so, for enterprises at least, in a very short time.

Little wonder, then, that Gartner analyst Michael Silver last month said, “This is huge” when asked to characterize Microsoft’s announcement.

Net Applications calculates user share by mining data from the approximately 160 million unique visitors each month who browse to the sites it monitors for customers.

Some Common Printer Problems

Problem: Printing is too slow.

Solution: Rev up printer performance–and save ink in the process–by reducing print quality for everyday output. While printer settings vary by model, here’s how to switch to draft-printing mode in most Windows apps. Select Print and Properties, and then look for a setting that reduces print quality. With the HP Photosmart 8450, for instance, change the default print quality setting from Normal to Fast Draft (click screen-shot at right). Other speedup suggestions: Print pages from websites without graphics, and add RAM to your printer, if possible. 

Problem: Ink and/or toner costs too much.

Solution: has written a lot about the printing industry’s sneaky practices over the years. To wit: They snare you with dirt-cheap printers sold at or below cost, and then stick it to you later with ultra-pricey consumables.

Based on our tests, we can’t recommend third party vendors’ remanufactured or refilled ink cartridges, which may not give you your money’s worth. One cost-saving solution is to buy higher-capacity cartridges. If you print a lot, try an ink cartridge with a 250-plus page yield, or a toner cartridge with a 2,000-plus page yield.

Problem: Windows is sending print jobs to the wrong printer.

Solution: For some mysterious reason, Windows may select a new default printer–the one it automatically sends print jobs to. (This happened to me when I upgraded from Vista to Windows 7.) To fix this glitch in Windows 7, click Start (the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of the screen) and select Devices and Printers. Under Printers and Faxes, right-click the printer you want to make the default, and select Set as default printer.

If you’re using earlier versions of Windows, these steps vary a bit.