Microsoft this week told the remaining users of Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) that it would cut off support years earlier than promised, saying it would end security updates for the browser in January 2020.

IE11 will replace IE10 on systems running Windows Server 2012.

"Starting in the spring of 2019, commercial customers running Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard can begin using IE11 in their test environments or pilot rings," wrote Suchithra Gopinath, a Microsoft program manager, in a Jan. 28 post to a company blog. "You will have until January 2020 to complete the transition from IE10 to IE11. After this, we will not release any security or non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content changes for IE10."

IE10 was supposed to receive security updates until Oct. 10, 2023, the retirement date for Windows Server 2012. That support had been promised after Microsoft forced customers to upgrade to the latest version of IE for their operating system, an order that meant most had to adopt IE11 or migrate to a rival browser. The mandate ended IE8's support four years before its time and IE10's seven years early on OSes including Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The only non-embedded operating system allowed to run IE10 while still receiving updates was Windows Server 2012. Gopinath's announcement effectively culled three more years from IE10's once-pledged support on Windows Server 2012.

She cited "(a) shift to a faster, more secure browsing experience" as the reason for the abandon-IE10 decision and added that "it will also allow you to reduce the number of Internet Explorer versions you support in your environment."

The latter was as likely a reason for Microsoft's command as any. The Redmond, Wash. developer had long ago designated Internet Explorer a has-been, continuing to support it solely as a legacy application for commercial customers who were stuck on aged-if-not-obsolete web apps and intranet sites designed for IE during its heyday. Dumping it will remove a browser from Microsoft's list of responsibilities as well as for enterprise customers.