The end of an era is coming as Internet Explorer has finally been retired after more than 26 years of service, good and bad.
Announced last year, Internet Explorer’s official retirement on June 15, 2022 comes 26 years and 10 months (9,801 days to be exact) after its launch on August 15, 1995, when the public-facing Internet was in your childhood .
From almost the beginning, it generated controversy. After the release of Windows 95 (also in August 1995), Microsoft began bundling Internet Explorer with OEM versions of the operating system.
This meant that if you bought a new computer at a time when all were buying a new computer, you almost certainly started it with a copy of Microsoft’s browser already installed and set as the default program for interacting with the Internet.
This, of course, is what got Microsoft into trouble with the US government, which successfully filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company (United States x Microsoft) which eventually forced Microsoft to allow OEMs to install the web browsers of their choice on the machines they shipped.
Still, that strategy was successful, and by the turn of the millennium, if you weren’t using some legacy middleman like AOL, Internet Explorer was how almost everyone got on the internet, and it was mind-boggling how that could change.
Microsoft Internet Explorer loses edge
Internet Explorer 6 was released in 2001 around the time of Microsoft’s final antitrust settlement and did not receive a major updated feature for several critical years after that.
Internet Explorer was then the dominant web browser around the world, so Microsoft probably thought it could rest on its laurels. This proved important for two reasons: ActiveX Controls and Mozilla Firefox.
ActiveX controls have been a feature of Internet Explorer since 1996 that allowed web pages to package executable HTML code that would run on client-side machines (ie your computer) without any user intervention. While this made the Internet a richer experience than simple web pages could produce, it also became a security nightmare almost immediately – one that Internet Explorer could never get rid of.
Then, in 2004, Mozilla Firefox, one of the first major open source projects on the internet, was released, offering tabbed web browsing, extension support, and no ActiveX control vulnerabilities. As users migrated to Firefox and a few years later to Google Chrome, Internet Explorer offered few updates until 2007 with Internet Explorer 7, but it was pretty much gone. Firefox and then Chrome would eventually overshadow Internet Explorer and reduce its once-dominant market share to once-unthinkable levels from which it never recovered.
Microsoft Internet Explorer Heads to Retirement
Back in 2015, when Microsoft released the new Microsoft Edge browser, it was begging Internet Explorer customers to switch, especially those still running Windows XP with Internet Explorer 6, which were mostly businesses and institutions despite being chock full of unpatched vulnerabilities in the modern and evolving Internet.
Finally, after announcing that it was ending support for Windows XP to prevent the change, Microsoft announced last year that it was shutting down Internet Explorer as well.
That time has finally come. As of now, Internet Explorer – once the almighty ruler of the Internet – is no longer being supported on most operating systems, with very limited extended security updates for certain enterprise services with extended support contracts that Microsoft is contractually obligated to honor. But even that will be done by the end of 2023.
It’s done. Ended. You don’t need to go to Edge, but stick with Internet Explorer at your own risk.
It wasn’t all bad times though
Internet Explorer deserved the reputation it gained for security vulnerabilities. You could click on a URL on a Something Awful forum in the early 2000s and have your computer completely locked down, or worse, by someone who simply reveled in watching the world’s computers burn.
Next to Adobe Flash, there is nothing on your computer that you should avoid more than Internet Explorer. It was unnecessarily careless about security, something that Internet security professionals were shouting at the Redmond Void before Internet security professionals actually existed.
Microsoft had to know better, but they came up with a web browser that literally let someone else install and run a program on their computer with just a careless click on a web page and forced hundreds of millions of people to use it. . There’s no getting around the fact that it was a program atrocity, and even Microsoft is happy to get rid of it.
But for a while, Internet Explorer was all there was to it, and coming from the internet’s original Walled Garden, America Online, using Internet Explorer was like leaving my parents’ house for the first time when I went to college.
There was an awful lot of danger I could encounter and a lot of trouble that I narrowly avoided, and even fell for, because I was stupid. But it was also the best moment of many of our lives, when life is full of possibilities and we thought we were immortal.
Internet Explorer was where many of us discovered we could find anything, and I mean anything, on the Internet. From Ebaums World to CD-Key cracking sites to the whole vast world of emulators. Are game emulators illegal? We sure as hell don’t care. The entirety of the Internet was open to me in all its glory, but often disgusting.
There are things I’ve done with Internet Explorer that I would blanch if I saw someone doing this today with a secure browser like Edge, Chrome, or Safari. We were all innocent overseas on the internet back then and Internet Explorer was built for a time when the internet was really a frontier.
That time has passed, and so has Internet Explorer. It was the digital version of driving down I-35 in Texas with my friends in the back of someone’s truck to go anywhere underage college kids went for beer. I am grateful to have gone through both experiences safely. I would never do it again, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one hell of a time.
sounds off in Internet Explorer
Everyone here at has an opinion about Internet Explorer, whether it’s your first browser in the 1990s or the browser that turned an entire family’s computers into digital petri dishes for malware. I asked the team what they thought about Internet Explorer finally being retired and, for better or worse, it stirred up a lot of feelings in just about everyone.
“I remember getting my crash internet course from my tech dad in the late 90s/early 2000s and one of the first things I did outside of his mentorship was look up games,” said Josephine Watson, deputy managing editor. from . “Bejeweled, Neopets, Miniclip and Runescape became my best friends in the absence of real friends.”
As fond as that memory was, it wasn’t all Neopets and sun. “SO. MANY. VIRUS.” added Watson. “All the other sites somehow downloaded a trojan onto my computer. Or I did. I can’t remember.”
“I don’t remember many problems, but then again, they had just invented the internet when I started and being able to download an image, or an MP3 at 4kb/s, was just a dream come true for me,” said. global editor-in-chief, Gareth Beavis.
“I still have a nostalgia for the gray icons and the tile refresh button, although when I upgraded to Firefox it felt like I was leaving school and entering a rebel zone,” added Beavis.
Internet Explorer also has its advocates, such as Désiré Athow, editor-in-chief of Pro.
“It was the rabbit hole that allowed me to explore a world hitherto unknown to me, learn more about the ‘information superhighway’ and hang out with friends at cybercafes where we rent computers by the hour,” said Athow.
“Internet Explorer’s flaws shouldn’t hide the fact that it was a huge stepping stone for newcomers to the web,” he added. “It’s a shame Microsoft hasn’t embraced it like Google did with Chrome.”
“I was in college when the University of Illinois launched NCSA Mosaic, a huge pivot to the Archie and Veronica services available in the school’s (look kids!) internet library,” confesses Jeremy Kaplan, ‘s director of content. Mom bought a new computer, and I convinced her that she had to buy this new program called Netscape Navigator. A boxed version, for $49.99… was the only way to get such a big show at the time.”
“When Internet Explorer first came out,” Kaplan said, “it felt very much like a me-too-application. Microsoft was constantly tweaking and improving it, and strangely started creating ‘Internet extensions’ to make sure people used their browsers.
“On the one hand, it made sense to just offer this application with a computer; after all, we had to Purchase apps before that,” Kaplan added. “But it felt weird and really forked the market. Processes later, IE still felt a little tainted, a little corporate, a little me too. There was no Edge. I stuck with Netscape, got Chrome when Google released it, and I’ve never looked back.”