Come in Internet Explorer – Your Time is Up

Edge Now the Preferred Microsoft 365 Browser

Time running out for IE11 (source: Microsoft)

Even if you spend time reading all that’s posted to the Microsoft Technical Community, you might have missed the August 17 post announcing that Microsoft 365 will soon end support for Internet Explorer 11. In a nutshell, support in Teams finishes on November 30, 2020 while August 17, 2021 is when support ceases in other Microsoft 365 browser apps like OWA, Planner, To Do, and Yammer plus all the administrative portals.

Microsoft’s advice is unambiguous: use Edge (the Chromium-based version). The legacy (original) version of Edge stops getting security updates on March 9, 2021. Curiously, Microsoft refers to legacy Edge as a “desktop app” instead of a browser, but I guess that’s just a matter of semantics.

Teams First to Dump Internet Explorer

While the other Microsoft 365 apps have a year left to support Internet Explorer, Teams stops in just over a quarter. Microsoft doesn’t explain why they want to accelerate deprecation of IE11 support in Teams, but it might be linked to the lack of calling and video support in IE11 for Teams meetings. Given the massive upswing of demand for Teams meetings since the pandemic started, it’s unsurprising that Microsoft would want to make sure that Teams users avoid Internet Explorer.

I doubt the demise of IE11 will cause many problems for Teams users. Mac users are more concerned about Safari support for Teams (audio is supported in meetings, but video is not). Linux users who don’t use the Teams Linux client have Chrome and Firefox browsers to choose from.

Another point to consider is that Teams uses a three-week update cycle to make new functionality available to clients. The longer IE11 remains supported, the further it falls behind in terms of the new meeting functionality recently introduced for Teams.

IE Gets More Time in Other Microsoft 365 Apps

Microsoft 365 has a bunch of browser clients, some of which are refreshed almost as quickly as Teams is (OWA is an example). The longer time allowed before the Microsoft 365 apps stop supporting IE11 might be linked to the relatively straightforward nature of the apps. SharePoint Online and Stream both support IE11 only in document mode, perhaps because of the video playback capabilities available in both clients. Forms, on the other hand, also supports video playback, but proclaims itself to be optimized for IE11.

Move Now

No matter what the reason is, the simple fact is that IE11 has a limited lifetime inside Microsoft 365. It’s time to move any IE11 diehards to one of the supported browsers, unless they enjoy discovering just what Microsoft means by “customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE11.”

Degraded could be anything from “a feature just doesn’t work” to “a feature works slowly.” Being unable to connect is more fundamental but could come about through something like a change in conditional access policies which IE11 can’t handle. In either case, the experience is unlikely to be anything to write home about. Time to move. And soon.

The September 2020 update for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook will remove most mentions of IE11 (there are twelve right now). It’s one of the nice things about having a book that’s updated monthly. When Microsoft changes, we do too.

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