27 years is a long time in the tech world and surviving that long while staying relevant is nothing short of a miracle.
27-year-old Internet Explorer (IE) managed to survive as Microsoft somehow kept it alive, but it’s no secret that the once-popular browser had lost its relevance for a long time.
Today, the browser that once ruled the Internet is about to make history.
The death of one of the first web browsers – Internet Explorer – was slow and painful.
“The Internet Explorer 11 desktop app will be retired and unsupported on June 15, 2022 for some versions of Windows 10,” Microsoft said in a blog post.
For the uninitiated, the browser was alive and well until now, and it will officially die on June 15.
There was barely a glimmer of hope for the forgotten browser, and its misery became fodder for memes and viral posts on the modern Internet.
Interestingly, the same popular accounts or pages on Instagram and Twitter bid farewell to good old Internet Explorer with full respect, dedicating an article full of nostalgia.
Browser death was already on the cards as the world transitioned to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and other browsers.
In the midst of this, Internet Explorer has become just a way for people to download other browsers.
Even Microsoft accepted it and tried to use it to rename the browser. To everyone’s surprise, in 2012, the tech giant launched “The browser you loved to hate” promotional campaign which said that older versions of IE were only good for one thing: “downloading a another browser”.
How this self-mockery played out for the tech and browser giant is obvious as the revival seemed long; the damage was done.
Making its debut in 1995 as part of Windows 95, Internet Explorer was quick to rise and challenge the dominant browser of the 90s, Netscape Navigator, for the top spot in the first browser wars.
According to reports, Microsoft spent over $100 million a year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990s, with over 1,000 people involved in the project by 1999.
The browser peaked in 2002 and 2003, with a share of around 95%.
But then its fortunes started to dwindle as the usage share declined with the launch of Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008). The rise of mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS that do not support Internet Explorer has also added salt to browser sores.
Internet Explorer’s market share fell below 50% in September 2010. In May 2012, Google Chrome overtook Internet Explorer to become the most widely used browser in the world.
Why Chrome thrived while Explorer perished could be gauged by the fact that Google has aggressively updated its browser more than 50 times since 2008 while Explorer has seen few updates.
In the browser wars, new players have carved out a place for themselves; Chrome has become a hit among most with features like Incognito, Firefox has remained the favorite for those who love technology and prefer security features. Even Apple’s Safari has started to attract attention. Internet Explorer didn’t have much to offer and lacked the appeal of modern browsers.
Meanwhile, mobile web browsing has seen steady growth and in 2016 it overtook desktop browsing for the first time globally, accounting for 51.3% compared to 48.7% for desktop, according to the company. StatCounter web analytics.
With Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari as key browsers in Android and iOS devices, Explorer was unlikely to find takers. The Windows Phone, launched around 2007, might have given the browser an edge, but failed to compete with Apple and Android phones.
Microsoft may have pulled the plug earlier from its browser, but its usage share is still around 0.38%. Edge, meanwhile, enjoys a 4% market share. Development of new features for the browser was discontinued in 2016 in favor of the new Microsoft Edge browser.
Google Chrome was neck and neck with Internet Explorer in mid-2012, then it left Explorer and other browsers behind.
To fill its place, Microsoft has positioned its new browser, Microsoft Edge, which debuted in 2015, as its replacement.
“We’re announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” Sean Lyndersay, the company’s Edge program manager, said in a blog post last month.
“Not only is Microsoft Edge a faster, more secure, and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, but it’s also able to address a key concern: compatibility with older and legacy websites and apps,” he added.
To announce the inevitable, the company said last year that full support for Internet Explorer would be discontinued on June 15, 2022, after which the alternative will be Microsoft Edge with IE mode for legacy sites.
Google Chrome is now the top browser, holding 64% of the global market, according to browser tracker StatCounter, while Edge users sit at less than 4%.
The lack of innovation has created the perfect environment for modern browsers to dominate the market and beat the good old Internet Explorer.
The death of Internet Explorer is indeed the end of an era, but the sad thing is that not only modern Internet users, but even those that Explorer has served for years, had already considered it dead, although that it still holds 0.62% browser usage.
It remains to be seen whether Microsoft Edge could take on the mighty Google Chrome in the future, but with a 4% market share, that’s a long way for the browser to go.
Perhaps a perfect epitaph for the explorer would be “The browser that helped people download other browsers.”