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A Complete History of Internet Explorer: Origins, Versions, Discontinuation & More

Ever stopped to wonder where it all began? Of course you have. We all have. From the rise and fall of civilizations to the development of modern technologies, there’s always a rich history to explore. The history of Internet Explorer is a unique one, full of highs and lows.

From its days as the go-to browser in the early days of the internet to its eventual decline in favor of other browsers, take a look back at this web browsing giant’s rise and fall. When it comes to web browsers, you’d be surprised to learn that it didn’t start with what lies in ruins today – the Internet Explorer. But Internet Explorer is the one that has the greatest legacy and impact when it comes to web browsers. In case you’ve arrived here from the past – this post isn’t about how to clear history on Internet Explorer. It’s an insight into the actual history of Internet Explorer.

When Did Internet Explorer Come Out? Who Created it?

Internet Explorer’s glory days came in the late 1990s when it became one of the go-to browsers for accessing the internet. At its peak, nearly every computer came with a preinstalled versions of Internet Explorer. Its popularity helped Microsoft dominate 80% of the market share for web browsers. But as newer and more lightweight alternatives began emerging, Internet Explorer lost steam until eventually being discontinued in 2015.

But, let’s start off at the beginning.

Who is the founder of Internet Explorer?

Who created Internet Explorer and when was it launched?

To begin with, Internet Explorer wasn’t the first web browser in the world. Now a short story on how it all started.

In 1995, Microsoft was working on a very important project code-named “Chicago.”  An extension of that project code-named “O’Hare” after Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was being developed simultaneously. Microsoft’s intent was to combine the technologies of both projects into a single product for the customers.  Towards the end of these projects, Microsoft made the deal and decided to take the O’Hare technologies, and distribute them as part of a separate add-on pack to the Chicago product. Chicago, now known as Windows 95, proved to be one of the most successful operating systems and O’Hare, the add on, became the Internet Explorer 1.0. And this is how it all began.

So, Internet Explorer is a web browser developed by Microsoft that was first released in 1995. It was initially released as a part of the Windows 95 operating system and was later bundled with every version of Windows until it was replaced by Microsoft Edge in 2015.

The First Internet Explorer: The Birth of Internet Explorer

What was the first Internet Explorer? Going back to the history of Internet Explorer, the first version of Internet Explorer, simply called “Microsoft Internet Explorer,” was a response to the popularity of Netscape Navigator, which was the dominant web browser at the time. Internet Explorer was designed to be more user-friendly and to offer improved support for web standards.

One of the key features of Internet Explorer 1 was its support for the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). HTML is the standard markup language for creating web pages. 

Another important feature of Internet Explorer 1 was its integration with the Windows operating system. This made it easier for users to access the internet and navigate web pages, as they didn’t have to switch between multiple programs or windows.

Despite its seamless integration with Windows 95, Internet Explorer 1.0 failed to catch on with users, who were already loyal to other browsers such as Netscape, Mosaic, Lynx, and Opera. Undeterred, Microsoft continued to improve and expand upon Internet Explorer and released version 2.0. This was the first cross-platform version of the browser, available to both Macintosh and Windows users.

Overall, the first versions of Internet Explorer were significant because they helped to establish Microsoft as a major player in the web browser market and introduced many of the features and technologies that are still in use today. They also paved the way for the development of future versions of Internet Explorer and other web browsers, which have played a crucial role in the growth and evolution of the internet.

Although Internet Explorer 1.0 integrated perfectly with Windows 95, few customers used it. Most people preferred the Netscape browser or other web browsers such as Mosaic, Lynx and Opera. Microsoft remained intrepid.  Microsoft made great strides over the next year with version 2.0.  Internet Explorer 2.0, Microsoft’sfirst cross-platform browser, available to both Macintosh and 32-bit Windows users.   In the summer of the year 1996, Microsoft released version 3.0, which was an overnight success owing to its wide variety of features, including support for video and audio multimedia, Java applets and Microsoft’s ActiveX controls. The war between The Netscape browser and IE version 3.0 raged fiercely. But there was one distinguishing factor that made all the difference, Netscape charged for their browser while Microsoft gave Internet Explorer for free.

One thing that still mars the Internet explorer success is their failure to address security issues properly. Post the release of version 3.0, Month after month, one security problem after another was being steadily reported. It was after this that web browsers like Firefox, Opera, and Safari started to pop up. And they pretty much blew IE out of the water in terms of functionality and security. The new web browsers offered features like tabbed browsing and browser extensions, but it took a long time to wean people off of IE. 

IE was most popular in 1999, 2002, and 2003. But from then on it was a downhill ride for the Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer has become synonymous with bugs, security problems, and outdated technology. Even as it improved dramatically in later years, it lost serious ground to rivals.

History of Internet Explorer: Major Updates


Next up in the history of Internet Explorer, in 1996, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 3.0, which quickly gained popularity due to its impressive array of features, including support for video and audio multimedia, Java applets, and ActiveX controls. The history of Internet Explorer is characterized by several updates and new versions being released over the years.

The browser war between Netscape and Internet Explorer 3.0 heated up, but Microsoft had a secret weapon – they offered Internet Explorer for free, while Netscape charged for their browser. This proved to be a decisive advantage, and Internet Explorer 3.0 became a resounding success.

The history of Internet Explorer is a complex and multifaceted story that spans several decades. The first two versions of Internet Explorer were followed by a number of other versions that brought an array of Improvements:

Decline of Internet Explorer and the Rise of Other Web Browsers


As the history of Internet Explorer suggests, if you ask ‘when was the Internet Explorer popular?,’ the answer would be that it was the dominant web browser until about the early 2010s. It started facing increasing competition from other web browsers in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Despite its initial success, the history of Internet Explorer was not without controversy and criticism.

One of the main reasons for this was the rise of Google Chrome. It first released in 2008 and quickly gained popularity due to its speed, simplicity, and support for web standards.

Firefox, developed by the Mozilla Foundation, also gained popularity due to its focus on privacy and security, as well as its support for web standards and extensibility through the use of extensions.

Safari, the default web browser for Apple’s macOS and iOS, also gained a significant user base due to its integration with Apple’s devices and its support for web standards.

There are several reasons why Internet Explorer faced declining market share and eventually lost its dominant position to these alternative web browsers.

One reason was that Internet Explorer had a reputation for being slower and less reliable than its competitors. It also had a number of security vulnerabilities that were exploited by hackers, which damaged its reputation and made users hesitant to use it.

In addition, Internet Explorer was often criticized for its lack of support for web standards and its tendency to introduce proprietary features that only worked in Internet Explorer. This made it difficult for web developers to create websites that worked consistently across different browsers and led to a proliferation of browser-specific code, which was time-consuming and frustrating for developers.

As a result, Internet Explorer’s market share declined over time, and it eventually lost its dominant position to Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

Microsoft finally woke up, and just wanted to kill the thing altogether. A fresh start made sense. Microsoft then released the first version of its much anticipated replacement for Internet Explorer.

Called Project Spartan, it was part of Windows 10, called Microsoft Edge, and launched in 2015. It promised a faster browser, along with the ability to write notes on web pages using a stylus.

Microsoft Edge was designed to be faster, more secure, and more standards-compliant than Internet Explorer. It introduced a number of features – a reading mode, annotation tools, and a voice-based virtual assistant called Cortana. 

While Microsoft Edge gained some users, it didn’t achieve the same level of popularity as Internet Explorer at its peak.

Why Was Internet Explorer Discontinued? The Birth of Microsoft Edge


In the early 2010s, Microsoft recognized the need for a new web browser that could keep up with the evolving needs and expectations of users. In 2015, the company announced that it was working on a new browser called Project Spartan. It was designed to be faster, more secure, and more efficient than Internet Explorer.

Project Spartan was officially released in July 2015 with the name Microsoft Edge, and was included as the default browser in Windows 10.

Microsoft Edge was released as a replacement for Internet Explorer, which had become outdated and was no longer able to meet the needs of modern web users. Internet Explorer was based on the Trident rendering engine, which was relatively old and had been discontinued. Microsoft Edge, on the other hand, was based on the newer and more modern Chromium rendering engine, which is also used by Google Chrome and other popular browsers.

One of the main reasons for the development of Microsoft Edge was to provide a faster and more efficient web browsing experience.

Microsoft Edge featured a new user interface and a range of new features and technologies, such as support for web standards like HTML5 and CSS3, integration with Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana, and a new reading mode that made it easier to read long articles and documents on the web.

Overall, the development of Microsoft Edge was driven by the need to provide users with a modern and feature-rich web browser that was able to keep up with the evolving needs of the web.

Over the years, Microsoft Edge has undergone several updates and improvements, and it has become a popular choice for users looking for a fast and reliable web browser. 

While it may not have the same level of market share as some of its competitors, Microsoft Edge has established itself as a formidable player in the web browser market, and it continues to evolve and adapt to meet the changing needs of users.

Internet Explorer vs Microsoft Edge


One of the main differences between Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge is their underlying technology. Internet Explorer is based on the Trident rendering engine, which is relatively old and has been discontinued. Microsoft Edge, on the other hand, is based on the newer and more modern Chromium rendering engine, which is also used by Google Chrome and other popular browsers.

Another significant difference is the level of support that the two browsers receive. Internet Explorer is no longer actively developed. Microsoft Edge, on the other hand, is actively developed and receives regular updates with new features and improvements.

In terms of performance, Microsoft Edge generally outperforms Internet Explorer. It is faster and more efficient, thanks to its modern rendering engine and ongoing development.

In terms of security, both Internet Explorer and Edge offer pretty much a similar level of protection against online threats. But Edge has additional features, such as tracking prevention and the ability to block potentially harmful websites, which can provide an extra layer of protection for users.

Overall, while Internet Explorer was once a popular web browser, it has long been surpassed by Edge in terms of performance, features, and ongoing development.

Will Internet Explorer Ever Return?


The history of Internet Explorer was long and influential, lasting 27 years and being included in various versions of Windows. The history of Internet Explorer also includes its competition with other web browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

Despite its decline in popularity, Internet Explorer remains a significant part of the history of the internet and web browsers. It helped shape the modern web and paved the way for the development of more advanced and user-friendly browsers.

Internet Explorer was one of the first major web browsers and was widely used during the early days of the internet, particularly among users of Windows. Its popularity helped drive the growth of the internet and made it accessible to a wider audience.

Internet Explorer also introduced a number of features and improvements that helped to shape the modern web browsing experience. Its support for web standards, such as HTML and CSS, enabled the creation of more visually appealing and interactive websites. 

Internet Explorer’s support for client-side scripting languages, such as JavaScript, allowed web developers to create more dynamic and interactive web pages. And its support for tabbed browsing and RSS feeds helped to make web browsing more efficient and convenient for users.

Internet Explorer faced increasing competition from other web browsers in the late 2000s and early 2010s. It eventually lost its dominant position to alternative web browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.

After years of enduring criticism and ridicule, Microsoft officially retired Internet Explorer on June 15, 2022. While the web browser was often the subject of jokes and complaints, it’s important to recognize the impact it had on the internet as a whole. The history of Internet Explorer is interesting – it reflects the evolution of the internet and the way we use it.

When Internet Explorer was first introduced in 1995, the internet was still in its infancy. Few people had even heard of it. Over the years, Internet Explorer helped to bring the internet to the masses, introducing millions of people to this revolutionary technology. It may have had its fair share of issues. But there’s no denying the role it played in shaping the modern internet as we know it today. Understanding the history of Internet Explorer can give us insight into the development of the internet and how it has shaped our world.

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