WordPress 5.8 is currently in production, and its release will mark the end of its support for Internet Explorer 11 (IE11).
If you are not sure what this means for you, you’re not alone.
In this article, we will cover why WordPress is dropping support for Internet Explorer 11, what dropping support means, and how this change will affect you.
- Why WordPress is Dropping Internet Explorer 11
Why WordPress is Dropping Internet Explorer 11
Formerly one of the most popular internet browsers in the world, Internet Explorer 11 is now currently used by less than 1% of internet users.
For this reason, a large majority of websites have dropped support for IE11, and this summer, WordPress will become the latest to join that list.
WordPress has supported the browser since its launch more than seven years ago, but when WordPress 5.8 is released in July, the latest version will be the first that does not offer support for Internet Explorer 11.
For the past 17 months, WordPress users using IE11 have seen an alert in their dashboards warning them that IE11 is now considered out-of-date.
For users still using Internet Explorer 11, WordPress strongly recommends beginning to transition to a more modern browser. The most popular options are Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.
If you are already using one of the above browsers, WordPress insists that this change will only improve your experience, as dropping support for IE11 opens the door for new performance benefits.
What Does Dropping Support Mean?
WordPress is dropping support for Internet Explorer 11, but what exactly does that mean?
When WordPress eliminates support for a browser, that means the CMS will no longer test new features on those browsers and that those browsers are no longer guaranteed optimal functionality. This also means that any bugs reported for IE11 will not be fixed.
Additionally, some of the automated tools WordPress uses to generate its Core source code will be updated to exclude browsers that are no longer supported. Within WordPress, this means that any of the features that rely on those generated files are likely to stop working or be buggy for those using the non-supported browsers.
These changes will be most noticed within the Gutenberg block editor because several of the block editor files are compiled using the automated tools mentioned above.
The remaining areas of the codebase that are specific to Internet Explorer 11 will then need to be identified, evaluated, and removed on a case-by-case basis. The ones that WordPress decides not to remove will need to be manually maintained.
WordPress is aiming to begin this process with the release of WordPress 5.9, and it will likely be completed gradually over the next several major releases.
How Will This Affect WordPress Themes?
Removing support for IE11 will not introduce any changes to the default WordPress bundled themes, and none of the code related to IE11 support will be removed from the default themes.
However, this does mean that any new features that are added later will not be tested in IE11.
Typically, themes have their own browser support policies, so changes to the WordPress Core will not affect them. Any user not using a default theme should not see their theme affected by this update. While the Core changes won’t affect your theme directly, there is a chance that the author of your theme may have removed support for IE11 already.
If you are worried about how the loss of support for IE11 will affect your theme, or not sure if your theme supports IE11, WordPress recommends contacting your theme developer with any questions or concerns.