TRENDS STANDARDS DEVELOPMENT

Posted on March 30, 2015 by: Chris Kobler, Front-End Developer

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There was a time when Internet Explorer was synonymous with the word “browser.” In the days before the mobile Internet, the resurgence in popularity of Apple computers and the introduction of WebKit-enabled browsers, there was only one browser that really mattered: Internet Explorer. In fact, in the fourth quarter of 2004, Internet Explorer had a whopping 91.35% of the market share of browsers! Everything else paled in comparison. How did Internet Explorer come to dominate the market in such a big way? It certainly didn’t hurt that it was preinstalled on every Windows machine. In fact, it was the ONLY browser that came preinstalled on every Windows machine. Every other browser had to be downloaded by the user, by using Internet Explorer, of course. Microsoft was poised to rule the world, and seemingly no one could stand in the company’s way.

Over time, users became savvier with technology and wanted more from the Web. They demanded a faster, richer, more rewarding experience. And over time, this call was answered by the likes of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc., each of which promised to fulfill those expectations. The new kids on the block quickly led the way in support for the implementation of the latest and greatest in HTML5 and new web technologies. Microsoft seemed to defiantly turn a blind eye and rest on its laurels, knowing that it still ruled the roost while the others slowly pecked away at its sizable lead. Over time, Internet Explorer lost its competitive edge and became the tired old man who couldn’t keep up with the changing times. It became the thorn in the side of web developers who were eager to incorporate developing technologies, but were unable to because Internet Explorer was holding them back. Hacks were created, “graceful degradation” implemented and support for legacy browsers became necessary, which, of course, was mostly necessary for Internet Explorer.

The latest browser reports indicate that Internet Explorer currently controls only 13.04% of the total browser market, including browsers created for mobile devices. Internet Explorer has certainly fallen from grace. So what is Microsoft to do? Go back to the drawing board, of course. Just recently, Microsoft has unveiled development of its next-generation web browser, code-named “Project Spartan.” Microsoft has made significant progress in updating this new browser to become more friendly to the latest in web technology, but calling it Internet Explorer would cause it to suffer from a nagging negative perception that has left a bad taste in the mouths of those keen on adopting new technologies.

Perhaps in an effort to distance itself from this perception, Microsoft has decided to kill the Internet Explorer moniker. What will it be called? Microsoft is currently conducting research to determine the new name that resonates with people the best. But one thing is for certain – it WON’T be called Internet Explorer. Will it live up to its new name? Only time will tell in the next episode of the constantly changing and evolving world of the Internet. Stay tuned…

TL;DR
The Death of Internet Explorer
Resources
  • Usage Share of Web Browsers
    Wikipedia
  • Desktop Top Browser Share Trend
    Net MarketShare
  • RIP IE: Microsoft Is Finally Killing Off Internet Explorer
    BGR

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