Friends Don’t Let Friends Continue to Use Outdated Versions of Internet Explorer

The web is a lot better, and safer, when you’re using a modern browser.
January 12, 2016, 7:01pm

Unless you regularly visit Microsoft's product support pages, you might not know that today, January 12, is the day that the company pulls the plug on support for Internet Explorer versions 8-10. Microsoft can't reasonably be expected to support old software forever—IE 8 came out way back in 2009—so today's the designated day when patches and other security updates will no longer be provided.

In plain English, that means these older versions of Internet Explorer are now ticking time bombs, susceptible to malicious attacks from ne'er-do-wells who'd love nothing more than to, say, hold PCs hostage in exchange for a digital money sack filled with bitcoin.

Don't let that happen to you. Or, more likely, your Dad.

While the days of Internet Explorer being Bill Gates' all-conquering force are now well behind us, versions of the browser no longer receiving updates still account for some 20 percent of the entire desktop browsing market, according to NetMarketShare—that's a lot, which is why this is such a big deal! And while I'm sure the average Motherboard reader is already using a modern browser like the latest version of Chrome or Firefox, the wider health of the internet depends upon getting this 20 percent chunk of users off these old versions of Internet Explorer.

Here's are couple of suggestions to make this process as painless as possible.

1. Have an intervention. The next time your uncle or best bud asks you to fix his computer (for free, of course) because it "broke," look him in the eye and say, "Stop using this version of Internet Explorer or I'm not helping you anymore. You're a menace to the health of the web and must be stopped." At that point direct him to begin using something like Firefox (which still supports Windows versions going all the way back to the latest version of Windows XP). Heck, PornHub works great on phones now (so I hear), so there's no reason he should be gunking up his PC when it comes time to whatever.

Put it like this, hackers love nothing more than PCs running old, outdated software that's no longer receiving updates. All it takes is a single visit to a malicious website to be infected with malware that then rolls up the PC into a botnet, or a large group of infected PCs under the control of hackers, that can then be used to do things like unknowingly participate in denial of service attacks or mine bitcoins for some guy in his basement. You don't want that.

2. Lie! Leave the old Internet Explorer icon right on the desktop, but redirect the shortcut so instead of launching the outdated version of IE it instead launches Firefox. A white lie like this is harmless, and you're helping the web stay safe.

Now, you don't have to use Firefox, but Google does plan to phase out support for Chrome for Windows XP this April, so depending upon how old the at-risk PC you're dealing with is you may just want to skip that upgrade hassle and go straight to Firefox right now. And if their PC is new enough, they could always start using Edge, Microsoft's latest browser that ships with Windows 10. Despite some rough edges (there's currently no support for extensions, for one), it's perfectly serviceable, keeping in mind the Windows 10 requirement.

Bottom line is, do the internet a favor and get this people off these outdated versions of Internet Explorer as soon as possible. Your fellow netizens will thank you.