TOKYO — Microsoft bids farewell to Internet Explorer on Thursday, stirring a sense of panic among many businesses and government agencies in Japan that waited to update their websites until the last minute.
Since April, Tokyo-based software developer Computer Engineering & Consulting has been inundated with requests for help.
Those customers are mostly government agencies, financial institutions and manufacturing and logistics companies that operate websites only compatible with Internet Explorer.
“Could you please do something so we won’t have any problems?” One customer pleaded.
“They have known [about the phaseout] for a long time, but they must have postponed taking actions,” said a CEC official, who expects the chaos among the procrastinated customers to last for “a few months.”
Microsoft officially will halt support for Internet Explorer on Wednesday U.S. time after 27 years of service. Many users are transitioning to Google Chrome.
A March survey by information technology resource provider Keyman’s Net revealed a large number of organizations in Japan relied on Internet Explorer, with 49% of respondents saying they used the browser for work.
They said the browser was used for employee attendance management, expenses settlement and other internal tools. In some cases, they have no choice but to use Internet Explorer because of clients’ systems used to handle orders. Over 20% of these respondents did not know or had not figured out how to transition to other browsers after Internet Explorer’s retirement.
Government agencies are particularly slow to respond. The portal site for information on government procurement and bidding will switch its recommended browsers to Microsoft’s new Edge and Google Chrome on Thursday. But for Japan Pension Service, notices concerning online applications must be viewed in Edge’s Internet Explorer mode. The website of a government-backed mutual aid corporation for private schools still listed Internet Explorer as its only recommended browser.
The Information Technology Promotion Agency has been urging Internet Explorer users to transition to other browsers and revise content promptly.
Released in 1995, Internet Explorer became the global standard after beating Netscape in the browser wars and enjoyed a 65% market share as recently as January 2009. But its share began to steadily slide in the late 2000s, plummeting to less than 1% recently, according to web analytics company StatCounter.
One reason for the decline is Internet Explorer did not follow the international standards for web technologies.
The demise of Internet Explorer coincided with Chrome’s rapid rise. Launched in 2008 with Google’s open source project as its base, Chrome attracted users with applications such as maps and email that run on the web, and dominates the market today with a 65% share.
Chrome “is fast, and its frequent software updates mean security holes and bugs are addressed quickly,” said Masato Saito of ExaWizards, a developer of AI-enabled services.