Home / Technology / News /  It’s goodbye time for the historic Internet Explorer

Once the only dominant gateway to the internet glories, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) will die a lonely death by this time next year. The legacy version of Microsoft Edge, the company’s modern browser, is also going to be a casualty. Mint presents a history of the war of web.

How did the Internet Explorer gain fame?

The story of Internet Explorer (IE) actually covers the first real antitrust battle faced by Big Tech. When IE was launched in 1995, the company licenced the code used to make Netscape Navigator, the then dominant browser. It used this to build IE and bundled it with Windows, whereas Netscape had a $49 price tag on it. This is the primary reason why web browsers today are always available for free. It led the US Department of Justice to launch an antitrust investigation into Microsoft and the judge eventually asked for the company to be broken up, and said that giving IE for free was in fact anti-competitive behaviour.

What happened to Microsoft then?

While Microsoft successfully appealed the ruling, it led to strict restrictions being imposed on the company. Among these was a ruling that Microsoft could no longer be involved in exclusive dealings with PC manufacturers and software developers. It forced the company to open the Windows source code, through application programming interfaces (APIs) to other developers, so they could build a software that would work on Windows. It essentially took away a huge part of Microsoft’s control over the PC ecosystem, which was the only “smart" ecosystem at the time and started IE’s downfall in a way.

Inching towards extinction
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Inching towards extinction

How did IE lose dominance on the World Wide Web?

Despite the antitrust battle, by 2004, IE had 90% of the browser market on PCs. Meanwhile, Firefox began creating ripples. Then Google launched Chrome in 2008 and took the browser wars by storm. In the next 5 years, Google took over the browser market and IE had less than 30% share by 2013. Today, that market share is 1%. As of July, IE and Edge had a total share of 9%.

Why is IE crucial in the history of web?

At its peak, Windows was the go to operating system for people using computers, and Internet Explorer was their gateway to the internet. In countries like India, with first time users, many didn’t even make the IE-Microsoft relationship. Just like many use Google as a synonym for the web today, IE was the synonym in the late 90s and early 2000s. The concept of ‘apps’ hadn’t arrived and everything you needed from the internet could only be accessed with a browser. The proliferation of smartphones changed all of that.

What’s in store for Internet Explorer?

This is effectively the end of life for the once-dominant web browser. From November 30, the Microsoft Teams web app will stop working on IE11, the latest version of the browser. Come August 17, 2021, the company’s Microsoft 365 services, like Outlook, OneDrive and more, will stop connecting to IE11 too. Microsoft said it would mean “degraded experience" for users and that certain features may cease to work when accessing apps and services using IE11. Microsoft is asking users to move to Edge, which has built-in IE mode.


Prasid Banerjee

An engineering dropout, Prasid Banerjee has reported on technology in India for various publications. He reports on technology through text and audio, focusing on its core aspects, like consumer impact, policy and the future.
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