Internet Explorer CD-ROM

RIP Internet Explorer

After almost 27 years, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser is finally and truly dead. On Wednesday, Microsoft officially ended support for their one-time flagship browser. Any lingering Explorer users are being redirected to use the company’s current browser, Microsoft Edge, instead.

As for why I say “truly dead?” Back in 2015, Microsoft introduced Edge on the pitch that Explorer, which had already declined in popularity, was “dead.” However, that wasn’t the case; Microsoft continued to support Explorer for years afterwards in security updates. Explorer was still included (though not as the default browser) in Windows 10, which was also introduced in 2015.

Some companies continued to use Explorer for compatibility issues—customized software, etc. that requires Explorer and works with nothing else. Still, at this point, it looks like the holdouts will have no choice but to either upgrade their ancient software, buy a new PC, or switch to Edge. That said, Edge does offer an Explorer compatibility mode for such use cases; Microsoft says Edge will support said mode until 2029, at which point any holdouts are completely out of luck. Fortunately, usage of Explorer has already declined to nearly nothing; more on that below.

Back in the day, Explorer was a fairly decent browser; I even ran it for a while on my Mac. However, Explorer started to fall behind its rivals such as Firefox and Chrome, and soon became “the browser used to download Chrome/Firefox.” It also didn’t help that Microsoft tried to use its desktop near-monopoly to make Explorer the de facto browser/internet standard, which ended up getting the company into trouble.

2022 browser state

Statcounter chart on browser usage, May 2022
Browser usage as of May 2022. (StatCounter)

These days, the current dominant browser is Google’s Chrome. As of May 2022, Chrome controls nearly two-thirds of all browser usage worldwide (65%). It’s followed by Safari at 19% (most of that is probably from iPhones), Edge with 4%, and Firefox at 3%. Other than Safari and Firefox, virtually all browsers, including Edge, now use Chromium as a base. Chromium is a Google-backed open-source browser, and the basis for Chrome. Note Firefox itself has seen better days, and there’s concerns about Chrome’s browser dominance, but those are probably for another post.

Internet Explorer usage is at a paltry 0.6%; even Opera has more users (at 2%). For the few holdouts, they’re better off switching to Edge and using its compatibility mode… preferably while upgrading whatever software they’re using that only worked with Explorer.

(Disclaimer: my current job’s company has a contract doing work for Microsoft; however, I have zero ties to them otherwise.)

Internet Explorer for Windows 95” by Kainoki Kaede is licensed under CC BY 2.0. (Flickr / cropped from original)

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