Internet Explorer, the browser that provided many people’s first foray into the world wide web, is officially no more.
Microsoft has officially retired IE, some 27 years after it was first released. Though many of these years saw IE take a near total market share, it has since fallen out of favour and the time has now come for Microsoft to withdraw support for its legacy system. Anyone trying to use IE now will either find it totally disabled, or be presented with a popup instructing them to download Edge instead.
Microsoft formally released Internet Explorer in 1995, bundling it into its Windows 95 Operating System. IE went from strength to strength, taking a whopping (and fitting, given the OS on which it made its debut) 95% market share by 2004. Although its days at the top were numbered, it wasn’t actually until 2016 that Chrome actually took the top spot – a position it has held ever since.
IE’s fall out of favour could largely be attributed to its perceived security vulnerabilities, which were said to have been the sole reason certain hacks were made possible. It also lost out in the speed stakes, which became much more of a concern as the more data-intensive activities like streaming increased.
IE also plagued developers, with the browser showing up more bugs and requiring much more work (even as the audience volumes dwindled) than the more open-source Chrome. In fact, one retailer made the news after charging a so-called ‘IE tax’ for consumers using the browser, to offset the extra work that went into developing and maintaining the site for Internet Explorer users.
Today, Chrome accounts for around two thirds of market share, with Apple’s Safari browser on nearer 20%. Edge, Microsoft’s replacement for Internet Explorer released in 2015, stands at around 4%.
Businesses using IE for their legacy systems needn’t worry just yet, however. Microsoft has built an ‘IE mode’ into Edge for developers and those who haven’t switched business operations over.
For all its latter-day criticisms, IE will still be remembered fondly by many – or at least appreciated for the difference it made. BBC journalist Liv McMahon wrote that, whilst it may be “reminiscent of a bygone era of dial-up internet, Internet Explorer is set to be remembered as one of the key tools that shaped the way the internet is used and accessed even today.”