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The Ghost of Internet Explorer Will Haunt the Web for Years

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The Ghost of Internet Explorer Will Haunt the Web for Years

After years of decline and a final wind-down over the past 13 months, on Wednesday Microsoft confirmed the retirement of Internet Explorer, the company’s long-lived and increasingly notorious web browser. Launched in 1995, IE came preinstalled on Windows computers for almost two decades, and like Windows XP, Internet Explorer became a mainstay—to the point that when it was time for users to upgrade and move on, they often didn’t. And while last week’s milestone will push even more users off the historic browser, security researchers emphasize that IE and its many security vulnerabilities are far from gone.

In the coming months, Microsoft will disable the IE app on Windows 10 devices, guiding users instead to its next-generation Edge browser, first released in 2015. The IE icon will still remain on users’ desktops, though, and Edge incorporates a service called “IE mode” to preserve access to old websites built for Internet Explorer. Microsoft says it will support IE mode through at least 2029. Additionally, IE will still work for now on all supported versions of Windows 8.1, Windows 7 with Microsoft’s Extended Security Updates, and Windows Server, though the company says it will eventually phase IE out in these, too.  

Seven years after the debut of Edge, industry analysis indicates that Internet Explorer may still hold more than half a percent of the total global browser market share. And in the United States, that share may be closer to as much as 2 percent.

“I do think we’ve made progress, and we probably won’t see as many exploits against IE in the future, but we will still have remnants of Internet Explorer for a long time that scammers can take advantage of,” says Ronnie Tokazowski, a longtime independent malware researcher and principal threat advisor at the cybersecurity firm Cofense. “Internet Explorer as the browser will be gone, but there are still pieces that exist.”

For something that’s been around as long as IE, backward compatibility is difficult to balance with the desire for a clean slate. “We haven’t forgotten that some parts of the web still rely on Internet Explorer’s specific behaviors and features,” Sean Lyndersay, the general manager of Microsoft Edge Enterprise, wrote in an IE retrospective on Wednesday, pointing to IE mode.

But he added that there was a real need to start over with Edge rather than trying to salvage IE. “The web has evolved and so have browsers,” he wrote last week. “Incremental improvements to Internet Explorer couldn’t match the general improvements to the web at large, so we started fresh.”

Microsoft says it will still support IE’s underlying browser engine, known as “MSHTML,” and it has its eye on versions of Windows still “used in critical environments.” But Maddie Stone, a researcher for Google’s Project Zero vulnerability hunting team, points out that hackers are still exploiting IE vulnerabilities in real-world attacks.

“Since we began tracking in-the-wild 0-days, Internet Explorer has had a pretty consistent number of 0-days each year. 2021 actually tied 2016 for the most in-the-wild Internet Explorer 0-days we’ve ever tracked, even though Internet Explorer’s market share of web browser users continues to decrease,” she wrote in April, referring to previously unknown vulnerabilities, called zero-days. “Internet Explorer is still a ripe attack surface for initial entry into Windows machines, even if the user doesn’t use Internet Explorer as their internet browser.”

In her analysis, Stone particularly noted that while the number of new IE vulnerabilities Project Zero has detected has remained fairly constant, attackers have shifted over the years to increasingly target the MSHTML browser engine through malicious files like tainted Office documents. This could mean that neutering the IE application won’t immediately change attack trends that are already in motion.

Given how difficult it has been to rein in Internet Explorer at all, Microsoft and IE users around the world have certainly come a long way. But for a browser that’s supposed to be dead, IE still very much loads with the living.

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign

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USB logos finally make sense, thanks to a redesign


Author: Mark Hachman
, Senior Editor

As PCWorld’s senior editor, Mark focuses on Microsoft news and chip technology, among other beats. He has formerly written for PCMag, BYTE, Slashdot, eWEEK, and ReadWrite.

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon

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Cheaper OLED monitors might be coming soon


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more

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New Pixel Watch leak reveals watch faces, strap styles and more
Google Pixel watch



The Google Pixel Watch is incoming
(Image credit: Google)

We’re expecting the Google Pixel Watch to make its full debut on Thursday, October 6 – alongside the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro – but in the meantime a major leak has revealed much more about the upcoming smartwatch.

Seasoned tipster @OnLeaks (opens in new tab) has posted the haul, which shows off some of the color options and band styles that we can look forward to next week. We also get a few shots of the watch interface and a picture of it being synced with a smartphone.

Watch faces are included in the leak too, covering a variety of different approaches to displaying the time – both in analog and digital formats. Another image shows the watch being used to take an ECG reading to assess heartbeat rate.

Just got my hands on a bunch of #Google #PixelWatch promo material showing all color options and Watch Bands for the first time. Some details revealed as well…@Slashleaks 👉🏻 https://t.co/HzbWeGGSKP pic.twitter.com/N0uiKaKXo0October 1, 2022

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Full colors

If the leak is accurate, then we’ve got four silicone straps on the way: black, gray, white, and what seems to be a very pale green. Leather straps look to cover black, orange, green and white, while there’s also a fabric option in red, black and green.

We already know that the Pixel Watch is going to work in tandem with the Fitbit app for logging all your vital statistics, and included in the leaked pictures is an image of the Pixel Watch alongside the Fitbit app running on an Android phone.

There’s plenty of material to look through here if you can’t wait until the big day – and we will of course be bringing you all the news and announcements as the Google event unfolds. It gets underway at 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm BST / 12am AEDT (October 7).


Analysis: a big moment for Google

It’s been a fair while since Google launched itself into a new hardware category, and you could argue that there’s more riding on the Pixel Watch than there is on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro – as Google has been making phones for years at this point.

While Wear OS has been around for a considerable amount of time, Google has been leaving it to third-party manufacturers and partners to make the actual hardware. Samsung recently made the switch back to Wear OS for the Galaxy Watch 5 and the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, for example.

Deciding to go through with its own smartwatch is therefore a big step, and it’s clear that Google is envious of the success of the Apple Watch. It’s the obvious choice for a wearable for anyone who owns an iPhone, and Google will be hoping that Pixel phones and Pixel Watches will have a similar sort of relationship.

What’s intriguing is how Fitbit fits in – the company is now run by Google, but so far we haven’t seen many signs of the Fitbit and the Pixel lines merging, even if the Pixel Watch is going to come with support for the Fitbit app.

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.

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