back to article Defaulting to legacy Internet Explorer just to keep that one, weird app working? Knock it off

Oddly enough, for the second time this week, Microsoft has been spotted telling the world that its software is, er, not very good. While Redmond's marketing orifice suggested Office 2019 was old and busted compared to its 365 brother, deep within Microsoft's Experiences and Devices Group, principal program manager Chris …

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If MS were serious about getting people to stop using IE they would have backported Edge to Windows 7 and removed IE from 10.

    But it is all about money, MS will continue to support IE just like they will continue to produce stand alone versions of Office for some considerable time to come, because big businesses demand it. If a corporation with thousands of clients that currently uses IE and can't use cloudy office versions, were to suddenly find that the latest MS products don't support these legacy techs, they may think twice about upgrading or god forbid actually switch to Linux.

    1. Trixr

      ...or if their own products worked in their stupid new browser.

      SCOM 2012 R2 web console - "This browser is not supported" in Edge. Admittedly it's in "extended support", but still.

      1. Danny 14

        since edge isnt in ltsc or server (thank god) then IE will last a while yet.

  2. Korev Silver badge


    Hang on... Isn't Internet Explorer an integral part of Windows?

    1. DavidCarter

      Re: Windows

      Not anymore no

      1. Simon Harris

        Re: Windows

        Someone must have seen sense at Microsoft.

        Back in the old days I managed to trash an XP installation when I tried to uninstall Internet Explorer.

  3. Hi Wreck

    Count me in.

    Guilty as charged. I have to use Intranet Exploder to launch some dodgy Oracle application (FFS). IT says they are looking to move the whole mess to some new Web-based thing “real soon now”.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Count me in.

      My HP 1920 switches GUI works fine in IE but doesn't work in Firefox (never tried in Chrome as I don't want it near any of my machines). Firefox made its best to kill old sites but sometimes those "sites" are your devices interface, and cannot be upgraded easily. That's also true for some older Dell iDRAC application on older servers we still use for development and test. You can't upgrade hw at the same pace they deliver new browser versions - and not everybody needs a browser just for Facebook or Amazon.

      The lack of backward compatibility, and the need to keep some old "portable" version at hand is becoming uncomfortable.

      1. AustinTX

        I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

        Same problem here, I have managed gigabit switches which work perfectly, won't be replaced for a long time to come, but management needs to be done via IE8 from a friggin' Windows XP VM.

        1. muhfugen

          Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

          The problem isnt that the web UI is broken, its that you're not using a CLI that'll work with a terminal from the 1970s or a SSH client 10 years from now.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

            HP 1920 switches don't have a full CLI (there's an unsupported way to enable something alike - but it's fully undocumented).

            iDRAC allows access to a virtual KVM and other features which is difficult to emulate in a telnet shell...

            1. rcxb Silver badge

              Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

              "iDRAC allows access to a virtual KVM and other features which is difficult to emulate in a telnet shell..."

              Anything newer than a PowerEdge 2850 has IPMI Serial-Over-Lan support that works far better than a virtual KVM. Text only, fully standards compliant, no browser interface needed. Comes with all those features found in your DRAC web UI and more. Just once check-mark to enabled it on Dell servers.

              1. Orv Silver badge

                I've used serial-over-LAN many times, mostly on older SuperMicro servers. It has a lot of issues, though:

                1. Usually can't access the BIOS.

                2. Hand-off to the OS is dodgy.

                3. Configuring serial terminals is nearly a lost art for some reason; the bits to make it work are certainly all there, but you won't find many cookbook explanations -- especially now that initd is disappearing.

                4. The actual wire protocol is only sort of standardized, and ipmitool does not give useful error messages.

                5. There are some odd pitfalls. e.g., you *must* make sure you don't have kernel logging to console; otherwise if you have a lot of kernel messages the kernel will grind to a halt as it waits for them all to be sent at 9600 baud.

                In most cases having a graphical representation of the console is just easier. Everything happens the way the OS expects, that way.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

                Serial over LAN is not much useful to manage the BIOS, access the Lifecycle Controller, or that naughty OS called Windows when for any reason remote desktop doesn't work.

                1. rcxb Silver badge

                  Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

                  Serial-over-lan works perfectly to access the BIOS with any decent server. I do it on a regular basis, back to those 2950s. Plus ipmi allows you to change several settings from the command-line without entering the BIOS.

                  Windows has had serial-over-lan support since 2003. Microsoft calls it "Emergency Management Services". It's enough to get your booting or networking issue sorted out, then you switch over to RDP, remote MMC, or whatever.

            2. Danny 14

              Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

              idrac works fine on chrome portable. T610, T620 and T630. Since we killed java too you can script the enterprise remote console too so you can use an offline java too.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: I've always felt uncomfortable with this statement

          "which work perfectly... but management needs to be done via IE8"

          Maybe your definition of perfect isn't.

      2. Peter X

        Re: Count me in.

        It'd be a faff, but likely there's not a huge amount stopping it from working with Firefox (unless there's ActiveX in there, in which case... good luck!), so it would likely be _possible_ to front-end it with a proxy that'll tweak things a bit. I know pretty much everyone except me hates XSLT, but, may I suggest using XSLT?! :D

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Count me in.

          In my experience a lot of these issues are caused by devices that use Java applets as clients. With all the security restrictions that have been (rightly) put on applets, it's often nearly impossible to get them to run in a modern browser. Compounding this is that most machines either don't ship with software signed with good certificates, or those certificates have long since expired.

      3. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Count me in.


    2. Martin Summers

      Re: Count me in.

      "I have to use Intranet Exploder to launch some dodgy Oracle application"

      Yep all those hotels that run Opera PMS are forced to use Internet Explorer. Even the new hosted versions won't run on Edge. Many hotels will never upgrade their on premise installations unless somehow they're forced to for compliance, even then it'll need IE. This is software where they're inputting customer card details into the browser!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Count me in.

        Don't know about the Hosted version but Opera PMS doesn't really run in the browser as such. It's a java app that is delivered by the browser and IE happens to be the only one to support it, at least natively.

        So your security problem of running it in IE, is amplified by the fact that you are running it in Java of some version. Interestingly Oracle will also state that you must turn Java Updates off for some of their software to ensure compatibility. Seriously - Oracle saying that you must stick on the same version of Java that was installed at the time of installation for their client software, even though it has security issues all the time and it could be used be many other applications!

        1. Jens Goerke

          Re: Count me in.

          Now add a bunch of Java programmers eagerly studying the release notes for each and every Java sub-sub-release version, demanding from the system administrators to either install this new version *RIGHT NOW*, because it has a feature they want to use, or to keep the old version, because some feature has changed/disappeared.

          In the end you'll have a dozen different JDKs (a JRE might not have all the features they use in their programs) plus the "system" JREs on a production server.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Count me in.

      There are still plenty of Java applications we can't get rid of "real soon now", and IE is the only supported browser with Java support. And Silverlight...

      My absolute favorite of course was an Israeli-made VoIP gateway (~15 years ago) that worked *only* with the MS Java client, not Sun Java. What A Brilliant Decision!

      At work I've dedicated IE in my laptop to our company O365 only. Edge had some problems with O365 CRM modules or some such. Fro everything else I use Firefox. I often need to login to customers' O365 portals for admin work while our own CRM is open and you can't easily use a single browser for multiple O365 logins at the same time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Count me in.

        There are still plenty of Java applications we can't get rid of "real soon now", and IE is the only supported browser with Java support. And Silverlight...

        MS should end support for IE. The organisations who have avoided paying up to fix their cranky old crapware would squeal mightily (whilst many of us laughed), but they'd finally have to grasp the nettle, and put in a more sensible solution. And if their hand was forced, the companies concererned would find a fix real soon, IMHO.

        Better still, MS should exit all browser activity, and can Edge, and whatever legacy and skunkworks browsers they're still farting around with. They've never been competent in this area, and the damage done by their attempt to own the internet by monopolising the browser market must run into many, many billions of dollars.

        1. Charles 9

          Re: Count me in.

          "The organisations who have avoided paying up to fix their cranky old crapware would squeal mightily (whilst many of us laughed), but they'd finally have to grasp the nettle, and put in a more sensible solution. And if their hand was forced, the companies concererned would find a fix real soon, IMHO."

          Assuming they still exist...or don't just vanish like a ghost the moment anyone tries to force their hand.

        2. Hans 1

          Re: Count me in.

          I think companies running this software are to blame. Accept that you are a bunch of nutters for buying this shite, I have certainly been warning you against since at the very least 2003.

          That is where the "if you are using IE your opinion does not count" comes from.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Count me in.

            Are you a nutter if buying this "shite" was the ONLY way to stay in business...and still is now? The big big problem is that, more often than not, this legacy software that ONLY runs on IE is one of if not THE linchpin to your entire operation.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Count me in.

      Three sites I have to use at my employers (two intranet, one third party) MUST use IE to function correctly. Any other browser can be used to access any other intranet/internet site

      However, all users with a Win10 machine are active discouraged from using Edge. At All. Go figure.

      1. Hans 1

        Re: Count me in.

        However, all users with a Win10 machine are active discouraged from using Edge. At All. Go figure.

        Somebody learned a lesson, there ?

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Count me in.

          we discourage the use of edge. thats why we gpo chrome.

    5. Wayland

      Re: Count me in.

      Tuffnells - The Big Green Parcel Machine

      If you want to send a parcel you will need a carefully tuned version of IE.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    boggles the mind

    IE has been the bane of IT'ers existence for many years, why do companies still cling to it? Yes, they've invested muchos dollares in the system that may well be their achilles heel.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: boggles the mind

      Problem becomes that it still costs less to keep the thing running as is than to try to build from scratch. That and it may be a bigger gamble than gambling on the old works staying together. Better the evil you know and all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: boggles the mind


      I work for a company maintaining IE only software.

      To rewrite it would be expensive.

      Customers keep paying for the IE only version.

      Every now and then some manager wants to make it newer and better, but they never commit the resources to make it happen, they always end up just changing the logo or colour scheme, etc

      1. Mark 85

        Re: boggles the mind

        Can't upvote that enough. It is about money and changing over user sites, databases, etc. is expensive which the boards tend not to agree to. Then there's issue of compatibility, etc. once things are upgraded.

        From this: "meaning admins had to think a bit harder about their old intranets, and consider bringing legacy web apps up to date for more modern browsers rather than simply flinging a wildcard at the compatibility list." It implies that admins are the problem not manglement. Like admins have that kind of power to push upgrades and spend money because 'MS said so..". MS seems to be more clueless by the day.

    3. JohnFen

      Re: boggles the mind

      "why do companies still cling to it?"

      For the same reason that lots of companies run emulators for antique mainframe systems that stopped being menufactured or supported decades ago: it's cheaper and safer to do that than to have to rewrite a crapton of working code.

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Compatibility mode fail

    Yes, this was a complete fuck up which sent the signal that MS really didn't care about updating HTML. Worse, of course, was not removing the ActiveX cruft earlier, or at least making it a per website sandbox.

  6. Amentheist
    Paris Hilton

    Deaf ears

    Who is this advice reaching? Techies that already know this..

    The number of times I've seen someone just browsing my internal apps on IE because some file at some point was opened by IE and the user simply takes no notice, yet keeps complaining that some webpage is broken.

    Or "oh I don't know my login" when I open it in <modern browser> on their machine, after which they go and open IE which has a million passwords saved. Essentially I've lost hope.

  7. Captain Scarlet

    Why not

    Create shortcuts which call iexplorer and pass it the URL?

    Then you can have your browser of choice as default for everything else.

    Its what I do (Yes we have 2 intranet sites which requires ActiveX), get users to slap a shortcut on their desktop and use that.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Why not

      There's a Chrome extension (ietab) which does essentially that, but inside a chrome tab.

  8. Stuart 22

    Backwards compatability ....

    Quick check: can it correctly render

    My latest version of Vivaldi can't!

    1. Captain Scarlet

      Re: Backwards compatability ....

      Eh, it works fine in Edge and Firefox?

      I don't have a chromium based browser to check at hand (Ok I can download one but the only reason I really use Edge is laziness).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You broke it - you buy it.

    Sorry, but this reads suspiciously like MS bewailing the fact that thanks to it's own actions in the browser wars, it's now condemned to carry - like a someone in a Greek legend - a load of extra weight around to remain current.

    Oh, my aching sides.

    I can't be the only person working for a company that while ensuring it's customer-facing websites were multi-browser functional, had to then drop to IE to run the company intranet ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You broke it - you buy it.

      Nope. Mine went even better - they provide staff with a Win10 based laptop with Edge as the default, but when I complain about various internal systems not working properly, our internal helldesk (eventually) tell me that they only support IE11 as a browser...

      If we treated our customers the same way we treat our staff...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You broke it - you buy it.

      Came here to say exactly this.

      Is this the same company that intentionally abused its dominance of the OS market to push IE and kill off its nearest rival- and in doing gave IE the vast majority of the browser market, one that remained a near-monoculture for a decade?

      The same company that intentionally loaded that browser with proprietary crap that locked those using such features in to IE? (Which wasn't an issue at the time because it (apparently) made little sense to worry about other browsers or actual standards when the very non-standard IE was what almost everyone used).

      And are we talking about the same company that- having achieved this de facto monopoly through anticompetitive means- sat on its arse and allowed it to stagnate for several years, allowing IE6- and the aforementioned problems- to become entrenched? The company that only changed and started paying attention to actual standards- very slowly at first- when it started facing actual competition in the browser market?

      In short, the business that engineered all this bullshit for its own benefit fifteen to twenty years ago is now getting tetchy that it still has to support all the legacy cruft it intentionally locked people into?

      Fuck. Right. Off.

  10. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    One of the problems I’ve noticed is the number of Microsoft programs which just reference IE settings and possibly the browser. For example when trying to activate office from inside an office app, it uses IE for the login page (you don’t see IE actually load).

    I’ve seen other Microsoft apps just start IE no matter what the default browser is set as.

    1. rcomm

      We were instructed by MS support during our o365 implementation in 2017 to stay away from Edge, as it did not work with all the o365 modules consistently. They recommended IE as the "most compatible."

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Failed attempts to change...

    I work for a US state government. The State Auditor's office recently changed to a giant ERP system and along the way instituted centralized time keeping for all state employees. The system, as installed, is Java based, but also requires Flash (strike 2). We were able to keep our folks running along using Firefox until last year, when Mozilla declared Java software non grata. We (our small agency) backpedaled our folks to IE as the last "current" browser that runs Java. Then things broke again and we were told only versions of Java 171 or older were would work properly. So now we're fighting Java version creep, and reminding users that IE is the only browser for time sheeting.

    To their credit/detriment, the Auditor's office attempted to move to a non-Java cloud-based version of the timekeeping software in November 2018, but the attempt apparently failed and we were instructed to carry on with the old system. They tried again in January of this year, again failing. Each upgrade attempt required a week where the system was unavailable for use.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "non-Java cloud-based"

      Meaning a non-Java / applet-free HTML-only front-end.

      Java @ the back-end is fine.

  12. s. pam Silver badge

    Payroll hell and damnation

    Our company doesn't do payroll, even though there's a venerable army of HR and Finance people. Who the @£$% knows what they all do all day. When you approach them with a question, they tell you to contact ADP. So you do and you're told "our app only works with IE 10". Not 11, not 9, not even Edge -- IE 10.

    Thus if you need to know what's on your payslop, or what deductions, or G*d forbid your end of year PAYE info, you have to run IE 11 in IE 10 "bassackwards compatibilty mode" or you're blocked from even logging onto their site.

    Don't even think about Firefox, Safari or Chrome "unsupposed and insecure" is the message from ADP regarding them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Payroll hell and damnation

      Has anyone tried siccing lawyers on them? What happened then?

  13. naive

    MS is just playing good cop/bad cop

    Since the IE, and thus implicit MS, vendor lock in of millions of users into legacy web apps from the early 2000's is a blessing all others can only dream about.

    No competition from Chrome or other google solutions.

    If they did not earn millions due to this situation, they would have killed off IE with Windows 10, or before.

    No IT director in a global company would even dare to choose something else beside MS on the desktop because of fear for this one killer website, lurking somewhere in the deep, built by some ignorant apes in 2004, using "easy to use" MS tooling.

  14. Mark Manderson

    Well done Ms, youve realised what techs have been harping on about since IE5.

    Seriously would like to flip them the old middle digit in corp world these days, inept clowns worse than they have ever been....jesus did i actually just state that!

  15. Jay Lenovo

    Cloudy Aspirations

    Trust Microsoft with your business... unless it was yesterday's trust (they don't recommend that anymore).

    Now Microsoft bravely desires to cut tail from their own dog food.

    Thanks for the loyalty, I'm sure you won't screw me over again.

  16. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Microsoft's obsession with backwards compatibility"

    Whether backwards compatibility is good or bad depends on whether what you're trying to be compatible with was good or bad in the first place.

  17. a_yank_lurker

    My Work Situation

    Where I work we have an interesting situation of some intranet require Imbecile Explorer and others work on Chrome. These are only 2 browsers installed in the Bloat7 boxes. So you have to remember which browser works with each page, loads of fun.

  18. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Secret Underground Testing of Quantum Communication Chunnels and...

    Secure Private Pirate Party Societies, Cloistered Networks, Witches Covens, Angelic Colleagues and Devilish Rogues alike :-)

    Jackson went further, pointing out that IE isn't really a browser any more. Instead, he described it as little more than a "compatibility solution". Microsoft has, after all, been trying to kill it stone dead for some time by skipping the implementation of new web standards and directing users to a more modern browser. Like Edge.

    Perfect for Beta Testing AIMaster Piloted Programs with not really a browser any more releasing and displaying future product via Infectious Pages of Immaculate Source Creating the Greater World Wide Webbed Scenes Mediating before You.

    You want a Champion JEDI Knight? There's one.

    Who'd have Thunk it. MS doing the Heavy Banging for the DOD? Are you currently running any AI Beta Test Master Pilots?

    Any Future Plans?

    As for Jackson himself, he didn't make any recommendations on what to use instead. In fact, he said Microsoft was happy for customers to keep using IE for sites that absolutely must have it. But only for those sites.

    Just please, please, please stop using the thing as an easy default for everything, because that way lies madness.

    Both the end and starting point of all magic journeys. You have to admit, as a guardian on the way to almighty paths, is madness a foundlings friend and absolutely fabulous protective security detail.

    Not many are Enabled to Escape its HyperManICQ Clutches and Empty Allure. ‽

    A Live Question for a Few, who may actually be More than just Many?

    How many have survived and moved on in sanity to do much greater things?

    Us El Regers are listening and most curious to know of more Future AIdDevelopments?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The ONLY reason I keep IE8

    The Chinese government websites only work properly using IE7,8 or 9; and even then, they only display all menu options if you have the language set to Chinese.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would that it were just IE

    A certain French multinational of my acquaintance insists that one has to use IE for most in-house stuff BUT then announces so-and-so will only work under Chrome, then "Ah, but Firefox is best for that".

    All the time the PHB's PHB many times removed kept chanting "we must DIGITISE". Naturally he swiftly acquired a retinue of sycophants, all joining in the refrain, with everyone predictably pulling in different directions.

    And so they arrived at a dysfunctional in-house Faecebook, the traffic on which seems little more than a stream of sycophantic twaddle, various web sales portals whose primary focus seems to be to convolute simple explanations as comprehensively as possible and online sales sites/catalogues etc., that make chocolate teapots look like finest Spode china.

    In-house training (Tech stuff in-house - corporate flavours outsourced from one of the Names but still just as bad). Tech launches of new products seemed uniformly focussed on saying it had taken a long time and much money to develop the stuff but bugger all actually about it. There were quizzes to make sure you'd understood the presentation. Unfortunately these were largely more of an exercise in semantics than anything else.

    Jaundiced? Call me a canary.

    Thank $Deity I'm out of there

  21. Giles C Silver badge

    Browser standards what are they.

    Let’s see

    My work laptop

    Internet explorer

    Cisco ironport (ancient code version)

    Cisco ISE couple of pages that require flash - yes I am going to upgrade that next month

    Some intranet sites

    Share point occasionly


    Mostly testing the proxy as the group policy doesn’t control it so I can play with proxy settings...


    Most stuff and general browsing

    Edge - on Windows 7

    Once I can get those two apps upgraded Ie becomes useless to me. So yes it is legacy stuff mostly.

    Mind you the front end for teams make ie 6 look good...

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