Internet Explorer, one of Microsoft’s most reviled products that refused to die, is finally nearing its end.
Microsoft announced this week that support for Internet Explorer 11 will be phased out on June 15, 2022. After years of flirting with IE’s demise, that final nail in the coffin arrived.
For example, in August 2020, Microsoft abandoned Internet Explorer for its products. Chat software for the workplace Teams stopped supporting IE last fall, and its 365 apps (including Office) will no longer support it by mid-summer 2021.
Internet Explorer, once the most popular web browser, had been steadily declining for nearly two decades. According to browser usage tracker NetMarketShare, its share of the browser market fell below the 50% mark in 2010 and is now around 5%. Google’s (GOOGL) Chrome is the market leader, with a 69 per cent market share.
Microsoft stated in its death announcement that Internet Explorer is slow, is no longer practical or compatible with many modern web tasks, and is far less secure than modern browsers.
IE, on the other hand, has miraculously survived for 26 years. Microsoft has continued to include Internet Explorer with Windows in order to ensure that corporate applications continue to work properly. Corporations are notoriously slow to adopt new browser versions, especially if they develop custom applications for them.
Most Windows 10 users are unlikely to be aware that Internet Explorer is installed on their machines. Edge, Microsoft’s modern browser, is based on Google’s open-source Chrome code and has gained far more traction in recent years than IE.
It’s unclear whether Microsoft will stop installing Internet Explorer by default on Windows PCs once the company discontinues support for the browser, though this seems likely. Microsoft’s latest Edge browser version supports web apps built for Internet Explorer, eliminating the need for customers to switch between browsers. As a result, Internet Explorer has finally outlived its usefulness.
“We are announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” said Sean Lyndersay, Microsoft’s program manager for Edge. “Not only is Microsoft Edge a faster, more secure and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, but it is also able to address a key concern: compatibility for older, legacy websites and applications.”
Internet Explorer first appeared in 1995 as part of Windows 95 and quickly became a hit. It successfully annihilated Netscape Navigator and established a virtual monopoly in the early 2000s. At its peak in 2002, Internet Explorer controlled 95% of the browser market.
However, Microsoft failed to innovate, essentially abandoning Internet Explorer 6 to collect dust and cobwebs for five years. Customers were irritated and fled to greener pastures as a result of this. Internet Explorer has become synonymous with bugs, security flaws, and out-of-date technology.
Microsoft (MSFT) finally released Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, but the damage had already been done. Microsoft laid the groundwork for Firefox and then Chrome to overtake it.
Microsoft attempted to revitalize Internet Explorer by releasing a modern browser, Internet Explorer 9, in 2011. Even today, IE does not support extensions, is not available on non-Windows devices, and does not sync with other devices by default — all of which are standard features of Chrome and Firefox.
Microsoft admits that Internet Explorer isn’t ideal for web browsing.
“Customers have been using IE 11 since 2013 when the online environment was much less sophisticated than the landscape today,” the company said last August. “Since then, open web standards and newer browsers — like the new Microsoft Edge — have enabled better, more innovative online experiences.”
That’s why, for the past five years, Microsoft has tried – and failed – to kill Internet Explorer.
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer engineers admitted in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat in 2014 that the company was considering a name change to “separate ourselves from negative perceptions” about the browser.
Instead, Microsoft created a completely new browser, Edge, which was released in 2015. However, Edge did not completely replace Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer, along with Edge, is still pre-installed on Windows PCs.