Internet Explorer shuts down to cause ‘months’ of problems in Japan

Microsoft said goodbye to Internet Explorer on June 16, sparking panic among many companies and government agencies in Japan who waited until the last minute to update their websites.

Since April, Tokyo-based software developer Computer Engineering & Consulting (CEC) has been inundated with requests for help.

Those customers are typically government agencies, financial institutions, and manufacturing and logistics companies that operate websites that are only compatible with Internet Explorer.

“Can you please do something so we don’t have any problems?” a customer begged.

“They have known” [about the phaseout] for a long time, but they must have postponed taking action,” said a CEC official, who expects the chaos among the delayed customers to last “several months”.

This article belongs to Nikkei Asia, a global publication offering a uniquely Asian perspective on politics, economics, business and international affairs. Our own correspondents and external commentators from around the world share their views on Asia, while our Asia300 section provides in-depth coverage of 300 of the largest and fastest-growing publicly traded companies from 11 economies outside of Japan.

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Microsoft officially stopped supporting Internet Explorer on June 15 after 27 years of service. Many users are switching to Google Chrome.

A March survey by information technology resource provider Keyman’s Net found that a large number of organizations in Japan relied on Internet Explorer, with 49 percent of respondents saying they use the browser for work.

They said the browser was used for employee attendance management, expense settlement and other internal tools. In some cases, they had no choice but to use Internet Explorer because of the customers’ systems used to fulfill orders. More than 20 percent of these respondents did not know or had not discovered how to switch to other browsers after Internet Explorer retired.

Government agencies in particular are slow to respond. The government purchasing and bidding information portal switched its recommended browsers to Microsoft’s new Edge and Google Chrome on June 16. But for Japan Pension Service, notices about online applications must be viewed in Edge’s Internet Explorer mode. The website of a government-sponsored mutual aid company for private schools still listed Internet Explorer as the only recommended browser.

The Information Technology Promotion Agency has urged Internet Explorer users to switch to other browsers and review the content immediately.

Internet Explorer, released in 1995, became the global standard after beating Netscape in the browser wars, taking 65 percent market share by January 2009. But in the late 2000s, the stock began to steadily decline, dropping below 1 percent. recently, according to web analytics firm StatCounter.

One reason for the decline is that Internet Explorer did not follow international standards for web technologies.

“It didn’t work well with JavaScript and other programming languages ​​needed to create interactive websites,” said Yota Egusa, chief information security officer at computer service provider Sakura Internet.

The demise of Internet Explorer coincided with the meteoric rise of Chrome. Launched in 2008 on the basis of Google’s open source project, Chrome attracted users with applications such as maps and email that run on the web and dominates the market today with a 65 percent share.

Chrome “is fast and with frequent software updates, vulnerabilities and bugs are quickly fixed,” said Masato Saito of ExaWizards, a developer of AI-enabled services.

A version of this article was first published by Nikkei Asia on June 15, 2022. ©2022 Nikkei Inc. All rights reserved

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