Japan is having trouble saying goodbye to Internet Explorer
Wed 13 Jan 2016
Eighty percent of companies and local government offices in Japan have made no apparent transitional efforts to part from Microsoft Internet Explorer as their default browser, with 30% using older versions which may represent security risks.
According to Japan Times, the country traditionally most associated with vanguard technologies has been a global laggard in the browser wars of the last 10 years.
(The report also notes that Japan retains an uncommon practical nostalgia for fax machines and hand-written time-sheets – as if 1996 was the country’s golden year)
This week Microsoft ended support for any version of Internet Explorer below the latest (and last) – version 11.00, leaving an unusual tranche of Japanese local government machines unprotected from the latest exploits and threat vectors.
Though Japan’s use of Internet Explorer has fallen from 50% in 2013 to 30% now (with the shortfall taken up by Chrome), 30% is quite a token of fidelity on the global scale. By comparison IE accounts for 1.57% in Spain, 18.61% in the United Kingdom, 8.42% in the Russian Federation and 23.72% in the United States.
General retention of Internet Explorer seems to affect broad geographic regions rather than specific countries. Though wildly varying in its component nations, the European average stands at around 10%.
However, despite its proximity to the U.S., Canada is in sympathy with the Japanese, with IE maintaining a 28.79% market share. Australia also leans closer to Japan, with an elevated 24.86%.
Other countries, most particularly the UK, have had a hard path away from outdated versions of Internet Explorer in the government sector, in nearly all cases because critical infrastructure development took place during Microsoft’s absolute domination of the field between the mid-1990s up until 2005, when Firefox paved the way for Google Chrome’s current domination. Since many of the applications and systems built relied on IE’s proprietary ActiveX technology, even versions as old as Internet Explorer 6 were in use in government networks years after the browser fell into decline, or any further patches were available.
Microsoft is committed to supporting the vast network legacy of ActiveX in IE11 at the enterprise level, and the reluctance of cut-riven government departments to recreate their systems without Activex in Edge – or any other browser – would seem to indicate a long and perhaps vulnerable future for data flows that were set up when the world was very different.