Info-tech

RIP Internet Explorer — the web browser that started it all

Forum Gandhi Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on May 21, 2021

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It’s the end of an era with Microsoft’s decision to retire IE next year

For many in the 1990s with a dial-up connection at home, Internet Explorer was the dominant way to access the corners of worldwide web. Although there were other browsers such as Netscape and Opera, IE had taken over markets like India as it came bundled with then-popular assembled desktops.

“I still fondly remember my childhood days, the very first experience of the internet which was made possible using IE. IE9 was pretty good and became my choice over the rest,” reminisces Abhinav Pathak, Co-Founder and CEO of Perpule.

The journey of IE

But now, after twenty-five years of shaping our web experience, Internet Explorer is finally being laid to rest. Microsoft has announced that the Internet Explorer desktop application will be retired and go out of support on June 15, 2022. “Over the last year, you may have noticed our movement away from Internet Explorer support. Today, we are at the next stage of that journey: we are announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge,” the tech giant said in a blog post.

When Microsoft launched IE in 1995, Netscape had nearly 90 per cent of the browser market. Between 1996 and 1999, Microsoft under Bill Gates unleashed a browser war by making it freely available. Unlike Netscape which required a paid licence for use, Internet Explorer was integrated into Microsoft’s Windows operating system for free. This forced the US government to file an antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. The case dragged on till 2001 when Microsoft agreed to settle the case with the US Department of Justice but by then Netscape and other browsers were practically wiped out from the market making IE the dominant browser.

Amitabh Singhal, former CEO, National Internet Exchange of India, said, “I remember having these consultations and discussions with the Department of Telecom when we were trying to figure out what kind of policy we need to bring in for internet privatsaation back in 1997-98. IE was something that was a tool for at that point of time to showcase and say, “Okay, this is how the internet is accessed.”

New browsers

But by 2004, other browsers like Firefox emerged. Forced standards, poor user experience, bulky web pages eventually made IE irrelevant even as Google’s Chrome blazed past in 2008. Over the next ten years, the once-dominant IE was reduced to less than 2 per cent of the global browser market.

BK Syngal, former Chairman of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd, said: “Internet Explorer was an excellent tool to browse the Net back in the day. It has really served mankind in accessing the internet in the old days . It had opened the gates for many for knowledge and innovation. “

But Microsoft is not giving up on the browser space. Its new browser is called Edge based on the open-source Chromium project, also used by Google’s Chrome browser.

Vishal Gondal, Founder & CEO, GOQii, said, “Microsoft has finally realised that IE was a failing product. Google was just a search engine at that time, and it beautifully diverted into becoming an undisputed leader in this segment. Now, Satya Nadella is focusing on the correct products like Azure, Outlook and Microsoft Teams.”

 

Published on May 20, 2021

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