It’s the internet browser that changed everything but will be quietly put out to pasture. On June 15, 2022, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will finally retire Internet Explorer. As I see it, this is a net win for people who own MSFT stock.
In fact, a celebration might be in order.
As the browser wars heat up, Microsoft must do what it takes to compete with Google parent company Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG).
Some folks might think of Internet Explorer as a joke nowadays, but you might be surprised to learn that some businesses are still using it.
As Microsoft shifts its focus towards the company’s next-generation browser, investors should consider the possibility that Google’s Chrome could have some major competition.
A Closer Look at MSFT Stock
There are no two ways about it: MSFT stock is expensive.
Even with the Covid-19 pandemic taking a toll on the economy for more than a year, the Microsoft share price has marched upwards with few interruptions.
The share price did roll over in mid-February of 2020, but recovered the $180 level by early May of that year. Since then, the stock has relentlessly climbed to fresh highs.
At the close of the markets on May 21, MSFT stock settled at $245.17. At the same time, the stock’s trailing 12-month price-to-earnings ratio was 33.41. It should open this morning at around $250.
That’s not a horrendously high P/E ratio, but it’s not super-low, either.
If investors simply wanted to hold their shares]and not buy any new ones until the stock price goes down, that could be a sensible strategy.
Microsoft’s Fallen Icon
The Internet Explorer browser was launched in 1995 and dominated the browser wars for a number of years.
Believe it or not, Internet Explorer commanded 95% of the browser market in 2004. However, that turned out to be Internet Explorer’s peak; it was all downhill from there.
I recall how, in the early 2000s, tech-savvy folks were already making fun of Internet Explorer for being bug-ridden. Today, the browser isn’t mocked much anymore simply because it’s rarely a topic of conversation.
As of April 2021, Chrome led the global browser market with a 65% share, while Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Safari browser had an 18% market share.
Meanwhile, Internet Explorer delivers less than 1% of the world’s Internet traffic.
Nonetheless, some businesses continue to use Internet Explorer. I know, that might sound hard to believe.
Why would any business use Internet Explorer in 2021? Consider this: it can be time-consuming and inconvenient to update/upgrade browsers across a business network.
Therefore, some companies have simply chosen to stick with the browser that they’ve been using for many years.
Transitioning to Edge
Interestingly, the health care, manufacturing and local government sectors are the main holdouts in using Internet Explorer.
So, that should help to answer the “Who’s using it?” question. Yet, there’s still the “Now, what?” question.
While Microsoft will halt its support for Internet Explorer on the aforementioned date next year, the company also won’t completely abandon the businesses that use it.
Microsoft is replacing Internet Explorer with the Edge browser, which in April held a 3% share of the global browser market.
However, Microsoft asserted that it would still support a version of Internet Explorer built into the Edge web browser.
Thus, the company seems willing to advance a slicker and (hopefully) less bug-ridden browser, while continuing to serve the businesses that still rely on Internet Explorer.
The Bottom Line
It makes sense for Microsoft to pull the plug on Internet Explorer and pivot its attention to Edge.
Only time will tell whether Edge can gain more traction in the browser market. Honestly, a 3% market share won’t cut it.
Hence, investors don’t need to rush out and grab MSFT stock shares right now. But if you already have a long position, it’s perfectly okay to hold on and wait to see Microsoft’s next move.
On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.