WordPress 4.8 Will End Support for Internet Explorer Versions 8, 9, and 10

Over the weekend, Matt Mullenweg announced that the upcoming WordPress 4.8 release will drop support for IE versions 8, 9, and 10. Core contributors have been discussing browser support for the past two months in relationship to setting technical requirements for the new editor.

Microsoft discontinued support for IE 8, 9, and 10 in January 2016, which means these versions no longer receive security updates. Mullenweg said that attempting to continue supporting these browsers is holding back WordPress development.

“I realize that folks still running these browsers are probably stuck with them because of something out of their control, like being at a library or something,” Mullenweg said. “Depending on how you count it, those browsers combined are either around 3% or under 1% of total users, but either way they’ve fallen below the threshold where it’s helpful for WordPress to continue testing and developing against.”

In an effort to determine how many people are still using these insecure and obsolete browsers, Jonathan Desrosiers collected data from three different sources. The following are numbers for global IE usage published by StatCounter’s GlobalStats, which Desrosiers said are nearly identical to WordPress.com’s numbers:

  • IE8: 0.41%
  • IE9: 0.26%
  • IE10: 0.26%
  • IE11: 3.79%

WordPress will not stop working entirely in these browsers, but after the 4.8 release contributors will no longer test new features against older versions of IE. Some capabilities in wp-admin may be more limited. Mullenweg confirmed that the next versions of TinyMCE will no support older IE versions.

Global IE usage has declined from 7.44% in March 2016 to 4.18% in March 2017. IE marketshare has been shrinking as mobile device usage has gone up. October 2016 marked the first month in history that mobile and tablet traffic exceeded desktop usage worldwide. As this trend of declining desktop usage continues, IE will likely be buried within a couple of years.

“I have been hard pressed to find a U.S. government agency running a version of IE less than 11,” WordPress lead developer Andrew Nacin commented on the announcement. “Government agency websites similarly see negligible traffic from IE < 11.”

The decision to drop support for IE 8, 9, and 10 was met with celebration from the WordPress developer community. Focusing on browsers that still receive security updates is a better use of open source contributors’ time and resources. Developers who do client work can also refer to WordPress’ IE support policy when pressured by clients to support insecure browsers.

Naturally, the topic of raising minimum browser requirements resulted in developers lobbying to drop support for PHP 5.2, which reached end of life more than six years ago. In March 2015, WordPress stats estimated PHP 5.2 usage at 16.6%, but that number has dropped steadily to 5.1% today. The task of updating a browser to the latest version was designed to be easy for users, but upgrading PHP versions is still somewhat complicated for those who are not receiving help from their hosting companies. The 5.1% on PHP 5.2 represents millions of users who would need to cross a significant hurdle into order to stay current with the latest version of WordPress.


23 responses to “WordPress 4.8 Will End Support for Internet Explorer Versions 8, 9, and 10”

  1. If WordPress said that in X time (6 months, a year) that it was moving away from PHP 5.2 and would require PHP 5.6, hosts would get off their asses and update. This is nothing more than WP being unwilling to use its market power.

  2. Matt is right. WordPress can’t reasonably evolve if it continues to support obsolete browsers. It’s the first step in making sure that WordPress isn’t viewed as obsolete itself. If there’s enough demand, plugins will appear to cover the non-backwards compatible changes. Requirements for PHP is a tougher nut to crack, but I can’t see supporting versions that are years past EOL for much longer.

    • If there’s enough demand, plugins will appear to cover the non-backwards compatible changes

      There is nothing easier in life than making blanket statements. No, it will not be possible which is why the move is done in the first place (some features can not be done with older browsers)

      In the end wordpress.com is more likely to suffer from such a change, as people running a wordpress.org site will just not upgrade, but the wordpress.com team might get much more support requests.

      • You do realize that the decision to drop support for these browsers was precipitated by core discussions regarding goals for replacement editor? And that discussion included one suggestion to use a basic enhanced textfield for listed old browsers, relying on community to produce a plugin if need dictated it? Because I did follow and I participated in that discussion.

        Plugin creation based on needs not satisfied in core is a historical fact, and about as old as WordPress. I was speaking to that for features like a replacement editor and others. Sorry if my comment on a blog post wasn’t specific enough for you. I’ll try and remember to provide links to make.core discussions to provide all the background you clearly were in the dark about. Thanks for your critique.

        • Well, maybe it is my english, but “cover the non-backwards compatible changes” for me means to supply equivalent type of functionality, and a text area is light years away from a WYSIWYG editor.

          Since the new editor is (poor decision IMO) inserting formatting into the content, there will not even be compatibility between such a solution and the new editor, therefor someone that works in a “textarea mode” will produce something that will not be editable by others and wise versa….

          The way the new editor is built is a one way thing. people that will not be able to use it will not be able to collaborate with anyone that wish to use it, and no amount of plugin coding will change that.

          (as implied I don’t like the direction this is going at all, but those are the implications of what is being built)

  3. Best news I heard this week. I hope bumping php to 5.6 follows rather sooner than later. At least the folks at Yoast are doing something about this.

    It’s possible that a lot of people running php 5.2 simply don’t know about it. One of my websites is hosted on shared hosting and they provide users with a list of php from 5.2 to 7.1 to choose from. Many people may simply not know that they should toggle and option in their admin panels.

  4. One thing that bothers me is the fact that WordPress is not dropping support for FF or Chrome just because the automatic upgrade feature.

    You could be running latest Chrome browser in XP, why does Microsoft doesn’t do something about this? We all know.

    To be honest I only used IE once to download Chrome, but I still keep it as Chrome doesn’t work with Java and sometimes I need Java for goberment features that requires Java enabled.

    I barely test my sites on IE as well… Just saying.

  5. Re: “As this trend of declining desktop usage continues, IE will likely be buried within a couple of years.”

    Keep in mind that statistical graph only shows percentage. It cannot be determined with just a percentage whether or not desktop usage is actually decreasing, or if overall the mobile usage is just increasing more than 100% above desktop usage. Based on their data, the desktop usage could easily still be increasing in overall usage, while not percentage.

  6. Oh great! No, just wait a bit…
    What they are trying to tell us is that dropping support for IE 8,9 and 10 will make it possible to develop WP further and this decision will make WP safer as well. That is why it was highest time to drop support for these. But in the meantime they are still hesitating to raise PHP requirements.

    Well, it was highest time that not marketing bullshit would make a decision! Outdated browsers mean just minor security risks compared to the security risks of outdated PHP versions. Dropping those browsers will not improve anything on WordPress itself, but will make the life of theme developers easier. That’s all. But they again just are not willing to drop PHP 5.2 which really limits even the functionality and code quality of WP besides being a great security risk. Even in 3rd world countries people who can afford blogging are contracted with hosting providers that are able to upgrade even to PHP 7.1 if really needed. Why? Because the servers in 3rd world countries do not contain vacuum tubes as 1st world devs always hypothesize. No camelshepherds operate servers, so there is no point always insisting to PHP 5.2.

    • In fairness, the discussion about dropping support for the elder browsers was focused on latest client side technologies for creating a new editing experience. Except as an afterthought to Matt’s post, PHP version support was not part of that discussion or decision that I know of. I would certainly support updated requirements for PHP.

      I’ve been around the hosting business for many years now. And the fact is shared hosting companies host users running all manner of apps that were built on older PHP versions, and while there’s a sound argument for dropping past EOL versions of PHP, there’s more to consider than just WordPress for them. Educating users about the benefit of PHP 7 will go along way to getting versions switched to that.

      From a WordPress perspective, the benefit of best practices, codebase management, security are better incentives to drop support for 5.2 -5.4 than anything else. I personally don’t create PHP apps designed to run on old PHP versions, and my hosting company doesn’t offer less than 5.6 currently. But we are a WP hosting company almost exclusively.

      • Educating users about the benefit of PHP 7 will go along way to getting versions switched to that.

        That is right, and does WP do anything for that? No. They were kept telling that a screen telling one should upgrade would be annoying for the users (naturally if they just do not know the risks of EOL PHP versions like 5.2 that is not annoying at all). Now Yoast’s plugin does educate people and the stats are pretty impressive. So to sum it up there is nothing bad about users who do not know some relevant information, but there is something really wrong about WP not to educate their users properly and finally a plugin has to take over that role.

        In regards of apps written for older PHP versions: that is why most hosting companies offer different PHP versions and the user can switch between them with just a click. Other companies can install a different PHP version for a given folder on the server on request. All the other companies that are not willing to upgrade/give choice to their users but just get their money should simply get rid of.

  7. Just chiming-in as a librarian here about

    I realize that folks still running these browsers are probably stuck with them because of something out of their control, like being at a library or something,”

    Many libraries dropped support too specifically because of these insecurities. You’re more likely to be in on the latest Chrome – or, hell, even a Tor browser.

  8. Given WPs aggressive backwards compatibility in the past did not expect this. But I am happy with it. The Bootstrap 4.0 CSS framework dropped support for IE 9. I would never guess WP will go even further. Not that IE 10 vs IE 11 will matter that much but still.

    I wish they would go into that direction in general, when it comes to PHP and other things. I know its supposedly one of the reasons why WP is so successful but tech is moving so fast I think software should not slow it down.


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