Microsoft retires older Internet Explorer versions, leaving millions unpatched

The software giant will in most cases no longer support the aging browser, despite the fact millions are still running it.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

(Image: file photo)

With its final patch, Microsoft has marked the end of days for older versions of Internet Explorer.

As part of the company's monthly rollout of security patches for its so-called Patch Tuesday, the software giant issued its final patch for Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10.

The non-security "end of life" patch will be delivered to Windows 7 users, reminding them to upgrade their browser or operating system.

There are some exceptions to the rule, however. ZDNet's Ed Bott has a run down of the various options.

December's patches will be available through the usual update channels, including Windows Update.

Those using older versions of the browser will be at risk almost immediately, considering nearly every month Internet Explorer remains one of the most likely targets of hackers and attackers.

It's not clear exactly how many users will be affected, but it's said to be in the tens of millions.

The software giant said in mid-2014 that Internet Explorer 11 would be the last version of the aging browser brand, which first debuted two decades ago in 1995. The browser has long been known for its security flaws and issues, which have bogged both Microsoft and its users down for years.

The rise of alternative browsers, such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, has seen Microsoft's dominant marketplace position vastly diminished over the past half-decade.

When Windows 10 was released, the company began pushing its new Edge browser more aggressively as an alternative. The browser was heralded as being safer than its predecessor as it prevents adware and toolbars from hijacking dynamic link libraries.

Indeed, in the months following Windows 10's release, most critical flaws affecting the operating system affected Internet Explorer far more than Edge -- though, it hasn't scored a perfect flaw-free record yet.

This post has been updated and refreshed since it was first published on December 4, 2015.

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