On January 12, 2016, only the most current version of Internet Explorer available for Windows will be supported. For older OS such as Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, you will need to upgrade to IE11. Even if you don’t use IE on a PC such as a server, you should upgrade to the latest version of the IE browser.
For example, if we use Process Explorer to view the IExplore.exe process, the loaded DLLs will include IEFrame.dll, MSHTML.dll, URLMon.dll, and WinInet.dll. The Web Browser control (IEFrame.dll) is the entry point and it loads the other DLLs.
Now, let’s view an application that uses the Web Browser control. EmbeddedIE.exe is a simple test application I created that uses the Web Browser control.
Notice that IEFrame.dll is in the list of loaded DLLs. If we looked through the list of loaded DLLs, we would find MSHTML.dll, URLMon.dll, and WinInet.dll.
One last example… I’m using Windows Live Writer to create this blog post. It uses the Web Browser control too. Notice that IEFrame.dll is in the list of loaded DLLs. Just like the previous example, all of the other DLLs are also loaded.
After January 12, 2016, only the most current version of IE will receive security updates. Therefore, if you aren’t upgraded to the current version of IE, you won’t be able to apply the current security updates. This could result in some Windows components not being serviced. To ensure applications using components (e.g. Web Browser control) are fully patched, update to the latest version of IE and apply future cumulative IE updates.
If I Remove Internet Explorer, Will My IE System Components Update?
In order for IE related Windows components to update, you will need to be on the latest version of IE. If you’re planning on removing IE, you should upgrade to the latest version first and then remove IE.
When you remove IE from “Windows Features” by unchecking the selection box, IE isn’t actually removed from the PC. All of the system components remain for use by the operating system and other applications. The web browser application (IExplore.exe) is “hidden” and not removed. When you apply security updates to the PC, the Windows components as well as the hidden IExplore.exe are serviced. Therefore, if you re-enable IE, it should be up to date.
For tips and tricks on migrating to IE11 in an enterprise environment, see my Internet Explorer 11 Migration Quick Start post.