Internet Explorer shortcut on a Windows 10 desktop.

VBScript is gone. Once a scripting language to compete with JavaScript in web browsers, VBScript is now disabled by default in Internet Explorer on all supported versions of Windows after a recent Windows update. But VBScript has been fading away for years.

Goodbye, VBScript!

On August 13, 2019, Microsoft disabled VBScript by default in Internet Explorer on Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 systems via a Patch Tuesday update. Microsoft released a similar update for Windows 10 on July 9, 2019. Now, on any supported Windows system with the latest updates installed, VBScript will be disabled by default.

VBScript was already mostly gone. Microsoft never supported VBScript in Microsoft Edge, which meant it was limited to Internet Explorer 11. Other browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari never implemented VBScript, either.

VBScript Competed With JavaScript

VBScript was a scripting language modeled after Microsoft’s Visual Basic. Its full name is “Microsoft Visual Basic Scripting Edition.”

This language first appeared in a consumer product back in 1996, when it was added to Internet Explorer. Websites could use VBScript just like they could use JavaScript, and Internet Explorer supported both. However, VBScript only worked in Internet Explorer while JavaScript was a cross-browser solution that also worked in other browsers. That’s a big reason why JavaScript won, and most web pages never adopted VBScript for client-side scripts.

Microsoft just disabled VBScript in the browser. By default, Internet Explorer 11 will no longer run VBScript found on web pages. It was rarely used, but there may still be some old internal business websites that rely on VBScript instead of JavaScript.

Microsoft’s Edge browser team wrote about “saying goodbye” to VBScript and other old technologies like ActiveX back in 2015, pointing out that “JavaScript has become the de-facto language of the web.” Edge has never supported VBScript.

VBScript Wasn’t Just For Web Browsers

A VBScript file in File Explorer

While this latest update is all about Internet Explorer, VBScript was for more than that. Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS) web server could run server-side VBScript. The Windows Script Host (WSH) can run VBScript files, often with the .vbs file extension. It popped up in all sorts of places—for example, Microsoft Outlook 97 used VBScript as its macro language, although it was the only Microsoft Office application to do so.

VBScript saw some use by Windows administrators for scripting outside the web browser, replacing batch files. But VBScript mostly fell out of fashion long ago. As Paul Thurrott points out, “by the turn of the century, Microsoft was transitioning to .NET, and VBScript was left behind. ”

System administrators who want to automate things with scripts will generally now use PowerShell instead of VBScript. Modern versions of Microsoft Office block VBScript controls.

Why Is VBScript Going Away?

This update isn’t a surprise. Back in 2017, Microsoft explained that it intended to disable VBScript by default in Internet Explorer in the future—that future is now.

VBScript is too old even for Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer 11 will only show VBScript for web pages executed in a legacy document mode. Microsoft’s Edge browser team wrote that this was a “temporary solution.” Microsoft may be supporting Internet Explorer 11 for the foreseeable future, but the company isn’t supporting VBScript along with it.

Sure, Windows contains many old compatibility features, but VBScript is potentially dangerous. It’s a whole scripting language available to web pages in Internet Explorer, an already old web browser. Few web pages still use it, and no one is developing with it anymore. Disabling it by default is a no-brainer.

How to Re-enable VBScript (If You Absolutely Have To)

This change shouldn’t affect anything for the vast majority of people. If a website required VBScript, it would only work in Internet Explorer. Assuming you don’t use old IE-only websites, you’re fine. Even if you do, most of those old websites don’t use VBScript.

But, if you still need VBScript in Internet Explorer for some reason, there’s still a way to use it. System administrators can enable VBScript for specific security zones via a registry or Group Policy setting.

Microsoft hasn’t made this option easy to find. That’s because this feature really is for businesses that need it. Average people shouldn’t touch it.

In fact, Microsoft says it will offer these options only “for a limited time.” Expect to see them go away in a future version of Windows 10, completely removing VBScript support from Internet Explorer.

Enabling VBScript in Internet Explorer through Group Policy

While this language had a long run, it’s been fading away for a long time. The recent Windows Update doesn’t change much. The vast majority of Windows users won’t notice VBScript has been disabled, and they’ll have no reason to care.

RELATED: How to Open Old Web Pages in Internet Explorer on Windows 10

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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