The death of Internet Explorer – a good riddance of bad junk

Today, finally, Microsoft is officially ending support for Internet Explorer. Goodbye and good riddance of the most annoying web browser of all.

Let’s review:

In 1993, when I wrote the first story about this new thing called WEB, I knew it would be great. This is more than Bill Gates thought about it at the time. At the 1994 Comdex, Gates said: “I see little commercial potential for the Internet for the next 10 years.”


Oh well, he finally got it right. But neither he nor Microsoft were the first to release a web browser. Away from it!

The first popular graphical web browser came from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Was called Mosaic. It was created by Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina, but while it’s what everyone remembers, it wasn’t the first graphical web browser. This honor goes to Viola WWWa Unix browser, while Cello it was Windows’ first graphical web browser.

Mosaic, however, was the first browser to let you do this see the images inside the pages. This was a game changer. Older browsers could only show images as separate files. It wasn’t a race: Mosaic won the first and first browser wars.

A day late and a dollar short

In 1995, Gates realized that Microsoft needed something to offer to all users who desperately wanted a web browser. In May 1995, Gates started saying things like: “The Internet is the single most important development since the IBM PC was introduced in 1981” and comparing it to a tidal wave.

Tidal wave or not, Microsoft wasn’t ready yet. His quick fix was to adopt Telescope, a commercial version of the popular Mosaic web browser. This was the basis of Internet Explorer (IE) 1, which debuted in August 1995, as part of Microsoft Plus for Windows 95, an add-on software package for Windows.

IE 1 was a flop. He also created bad blood with Spyglass, which was promised a percentage of Microsoft’s profits by IE. But Microsoft started bundling IE with Windows and thus had no profit. Microsoft would eventually settle with Spyglass for $8 million in 1997.

This Spyglass/Mosaic codebase would remain part of IE until IE7 is released. The “About” window from IE1 to IE6 contained the text “Distributed under a license agreement with Spyglass, Inc.” There are claims that Microsoft has innovated with IE. It didn’t happen.

At the same time, Andreessen took the Mosaic code and turned it into the first highly successful web browser, Netscape. Andreessen boasted that Netscape would “reduce Windows to a poorly debugged set of device drivers”.

Netscape in the crosshairs

Microsoft took the threat seriously. Netscape CEO James Barksdale he would later testify that in a June 1995 meeting, Microsoft proposed that the two companies split the browser market, with Internet Explorer being the only Windows browser. If Netscape hadn’t complied, Microsoft would have crushed it.

“I had never been to a meeting in my 33-year business career where a competitor had so blatantly implied that we would have to stop competing with it or the competitor would kill us,” Barksdale said during the Department’s antitrust trial. of Justice of 2001 against Microsoft.

Despite that caveat, Netscape has continued to lead the technological revolution. Netscape Communicator was where the real innovation happened. JavaScript, for example, is probably the most popular programming language globallyand JavaScripts it was a creation of Netscape. But even Microsoft, in all fairness, has had its moments. For example, IE 3.0 was the first browser to adopt Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in 1996.

But the real reason we’re only saying goodbye to IE today, long after Netscape made history, is that Microsoft exploited its illegal PC/Windows monopoly to block Netscape from computers. Armed Microsoft PC Vendors to put the new operating system and its browser on all their PCs. The goal wasn’t so much to kill off other PC OS vendors; there was no real competition for operating systems in the mid-1990s. The goal was to destroy Netscape.

The courts agreed. THE DoJ won its lawsuit against Microsoft because the company’s PC monopoly made it impossible for Netscape to compete with IE. Unfortunately, the government has given Microsoft a slap on the wrist rather than splitting it into separate companies or open source its code. And Netscape died, just as Microsoft had threatened in 1995.

So it was that many of you grew up with IE as the browser you knew and loved. You didn’t know any better.

Not with a bang but with a whimper

Microsoft stopped innovating with IE, especially after they released IE6 with Windows XP in 2001. Why bother? Users were going nowhere. They had no real alternatives. By the mid-2000s, IE’s market share was consistently over 90%.

But in the end, Firefox, building on the old Netscape code, became a viable alternative around 2005. The real end of IE, however, began when Google set out to create a modern, fast and efficient web browser, Chrome, in 2008.

Microsoft never caught up. Today, Microsoft’s modern browser, Edgeis based on Chrome, the open source code base of Chrome. In fact, with the exception of Firefox, all of today’s major Windows web browsers are built on the foundation of Chromium. Edge offers a feature called IE mode, which uses the Chromium engine for modern websites and IE11’s Trident MSHTML engine for legacy sites built to work with Internet Explorer.

IE itself? He was left to die of neglect. Despite this, people still use IE today, God help them! That of the federal government of the United States Digital Analysis Program (DAP) shows an average of 300,000 IE visits to government sites in the last 7 days.

Although support for IE11 on Windows 10 ends on June 15th, Microsoft isn’t just killing it. No, the IE11 desktop client on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 (and also Windows 10 Enterprise, version 20H2), with extended security updates, will continue.

Furthermore, IE mode in Microsoft Edge will still be supported until at least 2029. So, yeah, those miserable IE-only websites and apps are going to keep going for years to come. That means you don’t want to uninstall IE yourself. Edge will continue to use that feature when it comes across an ancient website. Even Microsoft said so IE desktop applications will be progressively redirected to Microsoft Edge currently.

When will IE actually be buried? We do not know. Microsoft is not saying. One day, though, you’ll get a Windows update that wipes out IE once and for all.

I can’t wait!

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.