Internet Explorer is no more.
On Wednesday, Microsoft (MSFT) has officially ended support for its OG web browser, Internet Explorer.
For many people, including me, Internet Explorer represents the beginning of the web. That Gatorade-colored lowercase logo is associated with my earliest memories of the Internet, from the virtual pet website Neopets to that utterly terrifying maze game.
Nostalgia aside, the end of Internet Explorer has been in the works for years — the browser space has become significantly more competitive since Internet Explorer originally launched in 1995, from the rise of Mozilla Firefox that began in 2002 to the increasingly popular open-source browser Brave. which emerged in 2019.
Internet Explorer’s rise was rooted in competition, as was its downfall. The Browser Wars, as they were called, saw Microsoft and Internet Explorer get caught up in an existential deadlock with Netscape. Microsoft may have lost an antitrust lawsuit filed by the government, but in the markets, the company beat Netscape as the company was sold went to AOL and the browser itself below in 2008.
†[Internet Explorer] was one of the first browsers to become widely known for being on every Windows machine,” Ari Lightman, a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University, told Yahoo Finance.
But as Firefox launched in 2002 and the success of other open source browsers grew, Microsoft began to fall behind.
“You’ve got open source coming out and saying, ‘Hey, if you want to see how this was developed, great, we’ll show you,” he said. “It was this new paradigm where I don’t think Microsoft was moving fast enough. tended toward.”
Justin Cappos, a professor of computer science and engineering at New York University, agrees. Because Microsoft existed before open source was proven to be a viable business model, the company was not quick to adapt.
“They were slow with open source because piracy was such a big problem and such a big problem for them,” he told Yahoo Finance. “I think early on in their corporate culture they equated open source with free and with piracy, which was such a big deal in Windows.”
The launch of Google Chrome in 2008 marked the official beginning of the end for Internet Explorer as the shiny new cross-platform browser came to dominate the market. Chrome was the result of a full press of researchers examining how web browsers could be improved over time. Microsoft’s newer browser, Microsoft Edge, also benefited from this research: the source code in Chrome is also in Edge, Cappos said.
“It’s necessary,” he said. “Internet Explorer has to go. One of the hardest things about being successful is eventually getting users off the old technology… We’ve learned a lot since then about how to design browsers better.”
Usually dead is a little bit alive
There’s an important bit of nuance here. Internet Explorer, to quote Billy Crystal’s famous line from “The Princess Bride,” is “only mostly dead.” Look, the browser doesn’t die completely – it will live on Edge, where users can access sites that require Internet Explorer 11 in the so-called IE mode.
Microsoft has invested heavily in Edge, which the company launched in 2015. The move to focus solely on Edge has been a long one, and to a large extent it’s a security measure, Microsoft told Yahoo Finance. Internet Explorer just isn’t built to the same modern security and privacy standards as modern browsers, the company added in background talks.
“If there’s one thing I want to emphasize, it’s that [moving on from Internet Explorer] can be daunting and challenging for organizations, the key word is feeling,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “There are many resources available to call upon and we are here because we have a promise to provide compatibility support for free. We want the transition to Microsoft Edge with IE mode to be seamless.”
Internet Explorer has long been a favorite browser of hospitals and healthcare entities, as well as other industries such as production† So in building Edge, Microsoft wanted to address the pain points IT administrators often encounter, from security to optimizing design for both businesses and everyday users, the company said. This stance is consistent with Microsoft’s long-standing identity as the enterprise-focused tech giant, Lightman said.
“Microsoft has always been very entrepreneurial, while Google has always been very consumer-oriented,” he told Yahoo Finance. “Usually when you search for personal reasons, or sometimes for research purposes, all this data is collected to determine consumer behavior patterns and things like that. Google uses all of that from an advertising perspective, but Microsoft’s companies aren’t really tied to advertising. – it’s more about selling software and hardware.”
So if you really need Internet Explorer, you can still visit it through Microsoft Edge.
“There’s a big difference between largely dead and completely dead,” said Crystal’s Miracle Max in “The Princess Bride.” “Mostly dead is a little bit alive.”
Allie Garfinkle is a senior tech reporter at Yahoo Finance. Find her on twitter @agarfinks†