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Happy 20th birthday Internet Explorer

Aug 16, 20153 mins
Data and Information SecurityEnterprise ApplicationsMicrosoft

Today, August 16, Internet Explorer turns 20.

20 years ago today, way back in 1995, Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 1.0 as a Microsoft Plus! “Internet Jumpstart Kit” add-on for Windows 95.

IE started behind the curve, but Microsoft set out to compete with then-top-dog Netscape Navigator.

Three months after introducing IE 1.0, Microsoft released IE 2.0 as a free download. In August 1996, Microsoft released IE 3.0, which could “talk” to other applications like Windows Media Player and included support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). In 1997, when Microsoft released IE 4.0, the company was said to be using “Windows as the human equivalent of nepotism, promoting IE through its Windows monopoly.” Microsoft said IE was “inseparable from Windows,” and the DOJ was involved in a complaint about Microsoft’s “anticompetitive behavior.”

Say hello to the first browser war. Netscape cofounder Jim Clark compared Microsoft to the Death Star. Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale said, “It’s going to be a dogfight, but we think we have God on our side.”

Microsoft won the first browser war, dumping over $100 million per year into IE during the late 1990s. By 2002, “IE had a market share of 95%,” but “the browser stopped evolving and Firefox, Chrome, Opera and others took over its position,” a recent Medium post explained.

When Microsoft was hit with a spate of complaints about the slow speed of patching IE, the Internet Explorer team blogged about the IE testing matrix. “With the general assumption of 26 languages for each IE version, we have at minimum 234 installs to test for each security update we release. My test team has to make sure that each one of these install packages installs correctly and works as expected – that is a lot of setups!”

In 2006, IE 6 was rated as the “eighth worst tech product of all time.” In a 2011 list of the 50 worst fails in tech history, IE 6 was listed as No. 11. If you did any serious web design, then IE 6 made you want to jump off a cliff, as it did not properly support CSS version 2, lacked support for alpha transparency in PNG images, and was infamous for crashing.

In 2014, US-CERT urged users who planned to keep running Windows XP after it was no longer supported to dump IE and replace it with “a web browser other than Internet Explorer.”

According to Net Applications’ top browser trends, Internet Explorer had a 47.67% global market share in July 2014 and a 42.55% market share in July 2015.

In a different graphic representation for July 2015, Net Applications shows IE had a desktop browser market share of 53.47%.

Microsoft wants to kill off IE and bundled its new Edge browser with Windows 10; it remains to be seen if Edge can make people forget the pain and suffering caused by IE. It may never be known how many times the browser was exploited and people were hacked.

Edge has been put through various benchmark tests by various publications, with a wide range of performance results, such as :

  • Edge is “faster than Internet Explorer” and “by some benchmarks, Edge is faster than Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple’s Safari.”
  • “Chrome smokes Edge in speed and overall performance.”

For users who aren’t ready to kiss Internet Explorer goodbye, Microsoft still offers IE 11 in Windows 10, even though Edge is Microsoft’s newest default browser.

Otherwise, raise your glass for a toast. Happy 20th birthday Internet Explorer…here’s hoping you’ll be a victim of fratricide by Edge and be completely dead or beyond obsolete before you can turn 21.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.