Hear that? That's the sound of web developers everywhere rejoicing. Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it will soon support only the latest available version of Internet Explorer for each currently supported Windows release.
As of January 12, 2016, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 SP2 users will have to run IE9, Windows Server 2012 (pre-R2) users will have to run IE10, and everybody else will have to upgrade to IE11. Stragglers will get neither tech support nor security updates from Microsoft.
The policy change may be particularly significant for businesses. Many of them have "have standardized on earlier versions of Internet Explorer," Microsoft says, in order to maintain compatibility with old web apps. Happily, though, Microsoft has taken steps to ease the transition:
[I]n the short term, backward compatibility with legacy Web apps may be a cost-effective, if temporary, path. Enterprise Mode for Internet Explorer 11, released in April 2014, offers enhanced backward compatibility and enables you to run many legacy Web apps during your transition to modern Web standards.
Since almost nobody runs Windows Vista anymore, and Windows Server typically isn't used for web surfing, the change should encourage just about everyone to use the latest IE release—if they're not already running Chrome, Firefox, or some other browser that auto-updates itself.
I think that's good news. The faster people update their browsers, the quicker developers will be able to implement new web standards without worrying about backward-compatibility. That, in turn, should allow the web to evolve faster. (Thanks to TR reader SH SOTN for the tip.)