Web sites

RIP Internet Explorer – the browser that changed the web for better (and worse)

Microsoft officially retired its first web browser, Internet Explorer, after nearly 30 years, and it couldn’t have happened sooner.

If you were in the late 90s, you couldn’t have avoided the “e” icon present on all Windows 95 machines. Some would just call it “Internet” rather than its name, because for the majority of users , it was the only web browser available.

While Opera also arrived in 1995 (opens in a new tab) as a project rather than the web browser we see today, it was Microsoft’s browser that took the world by storm, mainly due to the fact that it came pre-installed on millions of PCs.

However, we are in an era where you can choose from a variety of web browsers, from Opera to Firefox, all with their own unique features and interfaces. But Internet Explorer started something that continues to this day, and for that, we’re going to take a look at what went best and what didn’t.

He inspired tabs

Safari 15 in compact tab mode

(Image credit: Apple)

At the turn of the millennium, Internet Explorer 6 (opens in a new tab) was preparing for release, but it wasn’t until 2006 that version seven came with tabs.

The internet had outgrown the dot-com bubble of the late 90s, and instead users were going to sites for information, talking to others in forums about their interests, and shopping online was becoming a normality. .

Yet it also meant that a collection of Internet Explorer windows would sit on your taskbar, with no way to organize them.

That’s when Firefox came along in 2004 (opens in a new tab), touting tabs as a way to keep multiple windows in one. These days it’s a common feature, but back in 2000 you had to deal with a lot of windows before they crashed due to using up all of your PC’s memory.

Privacy has become a right, not a convenience

A demonstration of Google's new privacy control step-by-step guide

(Image credit: Google)

Pop-ups, banners, Napster, dial-up – all throwbacks to a simpler, slower era of the internet. But there was also a lot of irritation, as it usually fell to third-party security software to activate a pop-up blocker and firewall to protect your PC from hackers.

When Windows XP Service Pack 2 came to overhaul OS security in 2004, Internet Explorer also received some features like built-in pop-up blocker and so on.

Over the years, other browsers have ensured that privacy is as important a feature as tabs, multiple downloads and the like. Internet Explorer paved the way for its successor Microsoft Edge to work with this, just like Opera, Firefox and Safari had for years before.

Skip to next g(edge)nation

Screenshot of a beta extensions feature being tested in Microsoft Edge

(Image credit: u/leopeva64-2)

That’s why we’re saying goodbye to Internet Explorer and finally letting Microsoft Edge become the company’s only web browser.

Sometimes with apps there comes a time when a start over approach is better than improving a decades old base, which is where Edge comes in. Although not as popular than Internet Explorer, Google Chrome is currently the top web browser. market share, Edge focuses on privacy and modern-age functionality.

Microsoft now sees its apps as services – from Xbox to Edge and even Windows. It wants its products to be on as many devices as possible, leaving the choice up to the user. We are a far cry from the Microsoft of the 1990s, where you had to be on a Windows PC to browse a World Wide Web that mainly supported Internet Explorer in order to correctly view images and web pages.

Fortunately, times have changed and the internet has transformed into something completely different over the past 30 years.

Here are 30 more, with healthy competition between web browsers, and remembering what Microsoft started in 1995.

Farewell, Internet Explorer.