As of yesterday, January 12, 2016, Internet Explorer was officially taken off life support. Windows has now stopped updating its default internet browser for almost two decades, in a move that many feel should’ve come years ago. The long-running joke about Internet Explorer was that its only use in today’s internet landscape was to download other, superior browsers, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. However, Explorer hasn’t always been such a joke.
Between the late-90’s and early-2000’s, Internet Explorer reigned supreme. With Microsoft’s resources at their disposal, the developers at Internet Explorer were able to fix bugs, make updates and roll out new editions quicker than any other browser at the time. Above all, though, what established it as King of the web browsers was Microsoft’s licensing agreement with PC vendors. Each PC with Windows came with Internet Explorer pre-installed, leading to the vast majority of consumers to exclusively use Internet Explorer. The average person back in the 90’s didn’t possess the computer literacy the average person does today, so most people never even considered downloading another browser. As a result, many web developers built their applications off of Explorer, which led to a number of mainstream sites boasting a “best viewed on Internet Explorer” caption on each page.
Well-publicized security issues in the mid-2000’s would mark the beginning of Internet Explorer’s long fall from grace. Yet ultimately, what killed Internet Explorer was corporate reliance on its most popular edition, Internet Explorer 6. By the time Internet Explorer 10 came out, numerous companies were still exclusively using 6, as they had spent millions developing custom software only applicable with 6. This forced Microsoft to continue investing significant time and money supporting an antiquated software, which would have been better spent on newer, more consumer-friendly software.
Google Chrome, Safari (Apple’s default browser), and Mozilla Firefox now corner the market. Their integration of add-ons and other useful, easy-to-use applications makes for a far more enjoyable browsing experience than Internet Explorer could’ve ever offered. While Microsoft will continue supporting Internet Explorer 11 for the time being, most of their web browsing resources are spent working on Microsoft Edge, which they hope will compete with the likes of Firefox and Chrome.
Microsoft is now urging any remaining users of pre-Internet Explorer 11 browsers to move onto Microsoft Edge. These older browsers are now extremely susceptible to malware, leaving users vulnerable to a number of online attacks. This poses a threat to users of any site containing confidential information. So if you’re one of the few people still using Explorer, it’s finally time to get with the times.