Internet Explorer, the widely used and equally mocked online browser, is finally dead. Microsoft is officially telling users to quit the 27-year-old app and switch to its new Edge browser instead.
The software giant is discontinuing support for the product starting Wednesday, June 15. Internet Explorer (IE) has a clear but contested role in the history of the Internet. It was once so dominant that it caught the eye of US regulators, but it became hated by many users and was eventually replaced by Edge.
“Not only does Microsoft Edge provide a faster, more secure, and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, it’s also able to address a key concern: compatibility with older legacy websites and apps,” Sean Lyndersay, general manager of Microsoft Edge Enterprise, wrote in a May 2021 blog post announcing the final shutdown date.
Users marked Explorer’s move on Twitter, with some calling it an “unstable and insecure outlet” or “the best browser for installing other browsers.” For others, it was a time for nostalgic 1990s memes, while the the wall street journal quoted a 22-year-old who was sad to see IE go.
Microsoft released the first version of IE in 1995, the era of web browsing dominated by the first ever popular browser, Netscape Navigator. Its launch marked the beginning of the end for Navigator: Microsoft then tied IE and its ubiquitous Windows operating system so tightly that PC users around the world used it by default.
The Justice Department sued Microsoft in 1997, claiming it violated an earlier consent decree by requiring computer makers to use its browser as a condition of using Windows. It finally agreed to settle the antitrust battle in 2002 over using its Windows monopoly to crush competitors. It has also tangled with European regulators who said tying Internet Explorer to Windows gave it an unfair advantage over rivals such as Mozilla’s Firefox, Opera and Google’s Chrome.
Users, meanwhile, complained that IE was slow, prone to crashing, and vulnerable to hacks. IE’s market share, which was over 90% in the early 2000s, began to fade as users found more attractive alternatives.
Today, the Chrome browser dominates with around 65% of the global browser market, followed by Apple’s Safari with 19%, according to internet analytics firm Statcounter. IE’s heir, Edge, lags around 4%, just ahead of Firefox.