It’s the 1990s. You’ve just purchased a Microsoft computer. The dial-up internet connects—beep boop wrrrrr—and now you can surf the web. Which web browser should you use? The one that came with your computer, of course: Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer reigned as the world’s most popular browser for years. But on June 15, Internet Explorer officially surfed away into the sunset. Microsoft will no longer support its classic browser.
Never used Internet Explorer? You still might recognize its famous icon: a blue letter e circled by a golden ring. When Internet Explorer first launched in 1995, it didn’t come pre-installed on computers. You had to purchase it separately or in a bundle with the Windows operating system.
Before long, about 95% of all internet users chose Internet Explorer. Or rather, Microsoft chose it for them. The company made Internet Explorer the default browser on all its computers. Other web browsers like Netscape Navigator quickly died away. Who would bother using Internet Explorer to download another web browser?
By the early 2000s, the answer was: basically everybody.
Internet Explorer’s popularity plummeted. Just what happened?
For one thing, Internet . . . Explorer . . . was . . . slow. The old browser couldn’t keep up with fancy new website code, and users didn’t want to wait for webpages to load. More importantly, Internet Explorer stopped being secure. Hackers found holes in the software. Other browsers offered more safety as well as speed.
Today’s Windows PCs come pre-loaded with a new browser: Microsoft Edge. Edge runs faster and stays safer than its clunky older brother. Even so, most users have left behind Microsoft’s browsers. They prefer Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari.
By the end of its life, the world’s most popular browser had turned into a joke. People on social media called Internet Explorer “the top browser for installing other browsers.” But “back in the day”—as folks “of a certain age” like to say, reminiscently—Internet Explorer introduced a generation to the world wide web.
So the last will be first, and the first last. — Matthew 20:16
(Internet Explorer’s iconic logo displays on screen at a Microsoft media briefing in 2012. AP/Damian Dovarganes)