Big news for web developers: Internet Explorer 11 is no longer supported on Google Search

It’s been a busy year and keeping up with updates has been… well, non-existent.

But a piece of news that dropped today inspired me to shout from this digital rooftop: Google has dropped support for IE11 in its core search experience.

Cross-browser support is a necessary but often frustrating part of life for a web dev. There exists a rich ecosystem of environments that people consume the web on, which is healthy but means more work for testing layouts and features across a broad set of those.

Internet Explorer has historically been the most frustrating of these. Combine a stubborn refusal to follow web standards with being bundled with the ubiquitous Windows operating system and there is probably 20% extra burden on developers’ time for doing anything interesting on the web.

Microsoft redeemed itself somewhat when it released the Edge browser in 2016. This marked their eventual acceptance of web standards, and in 2019 it was re-launched using the open-source Chromium engine (which also powers Chrome, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi). But there still exist systems — notably corporate networks and developing countries — that maintain older hardware, operating systems, and so still use older browsers.

Today Internet Explorer accounts for around 5% of users overall, and this increasingly justifies dropping support. In fact, Microsoft 365 itself dropped support for the browser last year!

But what about web development in Hong Kong?

This usage varies by region and industry though, and Hong Kong has historically been slow to upgrade professional networks (here’s looking at you, Hospital Authority).

So we may be offering light support for some time yet. Light support in this context means using ‘progressive enhancement’ techniques where we accept that layouts will not be pixel-perfect, but ensure that the page is at least fully-functional. Still; we’re celebrating.