Microsoft announced this week that it will be moving Internet Explorer to the Recycle Bin. When millions of users download Windows 10 for the first time, they will find that the familiar browser has been swapped for a more modern replacement. Internet Explorer will continue to be available for enterprise customers who require legacy browser support.
The new browser, which will connect most Windows 10 users to the Internet, is currently entitled "Project Spartan" but Microsoft is conducting research to determine a permanent name by the time the OS launches in summer 2015. The new browser is promised to be speedy, light, and packed with features -- all qualities rarely associated with its predecessor. Its older counterpart will continue to exist for mostly business purposes.
Although plenty of Web surfers were (and still are) quick to describe Internet Explorer as clunky and slow -- especially compared with competitors Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox -- it did transform the way we use the Internet. Thanks to Microsoft's enormous footprint, Internet Explorer is used by millions and remains among the most popular browsers in the world.
After its first official launch in 1995, Internet Explorer continued to evolve along with new technologies over the following 18 years. It was released in 11 different editions with various upgrades in between. Many of us watched as the browser evolved to incorporate fixes to security flaws, integrate multimedia capabilities, and more closely resemble the OS themes that changed along with it.
Despite the many changes made to Internet Explorer over the years, it couldn't maintain the pace of rapidly growing competitors Firefox and Chrome. While Internet Explorer claimed more than 90% of the browser market in its heyday, failure to innovate ultimately caused its demise. Microsoft tried to catch up but was never able to reclaim the share it once had.
Microsoft has transformed its focus under CEO Satya Nadella, moving towards a faster, more mobile, and cloud-based world. Internet Explorer no longer fits in that picture and will be pushed to the side as a new browser becomes part of the Windows 10 foundation.
Internet Explorer may not be dead yet, but it will be used by far fewer people going forward. Let's take a look back at how the browser has evolved over the years, the many editions that were released, and the features that accompanied each one.
Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio
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