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 relation 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.”
Jonathan Desrosiers collected data from three different sources in order to determinate some closes values on IE usage these days. 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.