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June 3, 2021 | General | Posted by Clark Sells, Group Product Manager at Ascentis

Internet Explorer End of Life and your HCM System

Conventional wisdom says everything moves a lot faster on the internet, and that the movers and shakers are on to the next big thing before the current big thing is even widely known. In that environment, it’s all the more rare to come across an online tool with real staying power. For more than 25 years, that’s exactly what Internet Explorer (IE) has been, but now even that impressively durable era is coming to an end.

Launched in 1995 as Microsoft’s flagship web browser, IE at one point claimed a striking 95% of the worldwide browser market share. But times have changed, and even an internet stalwart can eventually lose its sway. After years of upgrading and tinkering with Internet Explorer as competitors like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s Safari browsers chipped away at its user base, Microsoft has finally announced its intention of sunsetting IE. The browser will officially be retired as a desktop application in June of 2022 as the reportedly faster and more secure Microsoft Edge browser takes its place. Internet Explorer 11, the most recent edition of the browser, will be the final major version of IE.

What does the end of Internet Explorer mean for businesses?

The phasing out of IE will have little to no impact for most organizations that have moved on to a newer default browser. Some businesses, however, may have been caught off guard or simply not gotten around to upgrading to Microsoft Edge. When it comes to human resources and human capital management, businesses that rely on third-party applications or software for their HR and HCM needs will need to plan accordingly.

As Internet Explorer’s functionality depreciates over time, third-party HCM and timekeeping applications running in IE will become increasingly buggy and may even fall out of compliance with regulations. Since Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates or patches for IE, organizations that do not update their browsers will also be putting themselves at risk of data breaches and other cybersecurity threats.

To put it simply, responsible business owners who still rely on IE need to start planning now to make a browser upgrade, either to Microsoft Edge or a competing browser. For organizations concerned that making the switch will take up too much time or create interruptions in service, Microsoft is offering a couple of temporary fixes for businesses that still rely on IE or on applications that depend on an older version of IE.

How to Use a Site in IE Mode

For organizations that need to rely on apps or software designed specifically for Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge’s Internet Explorer mode is intended as at least a short-term solution. According to the company’s official FAQ page, IE mode uses the integrated Chromium engine that powers Microsoft Edge for most sites, but also employs the Trident MSHTML engine from Internet Explorer 11. That allows backward compatibility with sites that have not been updated to run in more current browsers.

Using a site in IE mode will take a little extra work. Your organization will need to configure the browser to recognize specific sites as Internet Explorer compatible. That entails adding each specific backward compatible site to an “Enterprise Mode IE website list.” According to Microsoft, adding a site to that list supports all of the following Internet Explorer functions:

  • All document modes and enterprise modes
  • ActiveX controls (such as Java or Silverlight)
  • Browser Helper Objects
  • Internet Explorer settings and Group Policies that affect the security zone settings and Protected Mode
  • The F12 developer tools for IE, when launch with IEChooser
  • Microsoft Edge extensions (Extensions that interact with the IE page content directly are not supported.)

Using a site in IE mode will not allow the use of Internet Explorer toolbars, outdated developer tools, or any settings or group policies that affect the navigation menu.

When is it time to upgrade web browsers?

Even though Microsoft has made accommodations for websites that still rely on Internet Explorer, this is only a temporary remedy. As of now IE mode is only intended to be supported through 2029, which should give users plenty of time to look for new solutions. The fact is that apps and software that depends on outdated technology are virtually guaranteed to become unreliable in the long term.

If your organization still depends on IE-driven processes for essential functions, it is in everyone’s best interest to start looking for new technology that is compatible with modern browsers, ideally including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s Safari. Even more ideally, solutions that are compatible with mobile operating systems like Android and Apple’s iOS expand an organization’s functionality and allow access from virtually any location. To be blunt, there is very little excuse for a modern business to handcuff itself to outdated technology when the working world is shifting to new and more effective systems.

A scalable, customizable workforce management system from Ascentis provides consistently updated software solutions that are fully compatible with all leading browsers. As a third-party HCM provider, we are also aware that employers don’t always have control over how their employees access our applications, including what browser they use. That’s why Ascentis is developing educational materials about what the end of IE means for our clients, establishing best practices, and creating warning messages within our applications to ensure that employers and employees alike get the best Ascentis experience possible.

If you’re ready for an upgrade that can grow along with your business, contact us today for a demonstration.

Clark leads the Payroll, Tax, and Mobile product teams at Ascentis. In this role he is responsible for leading the payroll compliance product development life cycle. Clark has experience in building, implementing and maintaining payroll and tax software for employers and payers of all volumes. In addition to payroll, Mr. Sells has product strategy experience in multiple tax regimes including: 1099, FATCA, CRS and ACA. He is a subject matter expert in the area of taxpayer identification number matching, non-wage and state reporting. He is a former chair of the IRPAC’s Employer Information Reporting and Burden Reduction Committee (EIRBR) and former member of the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee (IRSAC). Previously in his career he held product management roles at Ceridian, where he focused on the creation of the on-demand payment platforms, an industry principal role at Sovos Compliance, and has worked in various global treasury services roles within Bank of America and Ameriprise Financial.