Death of IE

A farewell to Internet Explorer

Microsoft recently let us know there will be no Internet Explorer 12. The brand will be retired and replaced by a new browser in conjunction with the launch of the next version of Microsoft Windows. Internet Explorer aka IE has been with us since the beginning of the Internet. IE 1.0 was released in 1995 as a competitor to the dominating Netscape Navigator. It quickly gained market share as it was bundled with Microsoft Windows and starting with IE 2.0, was also available as a free download.

Death of IE

Netscape was considered the better product, leading to the beginning of a saga that continued for two decades. Eventually, Netscape lost its impact and was replaced by Firefox and Google Chrome as the main competitors to IE. Microsoft‘s Internet Explorer was always playing catch-up with other browsers and never gained traction as the leading browser. Even with IE‘s market share showing a decline for years, it has still been used by ordinary web surfers. Here are the usage statistics for IE (all versions combined) during the month of November for each respective  year:

2002: 83.4%
2003: 84.9%
2004: 76.2%
2005: 68.9%
2006: 60.6%
2007: 56%
2008: 47%
2009: 37.7%
2010: 28.6%
2011: 21.2%
2012: 15.1%
2013: 10.5%
2014: 9.8%

Today, Internet Explorer is currently at a market share below 8%.

You might ask: “How could they let this happen?” Or maybe you ask: “What took so long? Why were Google and the Mozilla not able to slice up that pie a little sooner?” Hundreds of millions of internet users had an inferior experience with something they do every day (surfing the web) for many many years.

In my opinion, this confirms humans are creatures of habit and solidifies how long it takes for innovators and early adopters to bring the masses with them.

It‘s also a story about the risk of losing good innovations. If Microsoft would have played their cards a little differently they might have prevailed and we might all be stuck with an inferior technology (less security, slower web surfing, less functionality, etc.). That‘s a story being written each day.

I consider this a cautionary tale about the limitations of social media. Aren‘t we all supposed to help each other to make the best decisions and aren‘t we all influenced by our tribe leaders? Or are we held back by our peers that are stuck in their old ways?

Another aspect of IE that isn‘t mentioned too often in the mainstream conversations is the cost it created for web development around the globe. Microsoft‘s refusal to adhere to common W3C standards  has added the necessity for special adjustments, hacks for countless website development projects. Millions of software developers are getting headaches whenever they see the letters I and E combined. That pain will quite likely never go away for those poor fellows but maybe the next generation won‘t have to suffer from the same trauma any longer.

As with so many other things in life, there are definitely two sides to this story. Let‘s hope Microsoft introduces more than just a new label for its next browser and provides us with a true alternative to the top browsers of the world.


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