Computer with Internet Explorer logo on the screen

Microsoft retires Internet Explorer browser after 27 years

Image credit: Dreamstime

Microsoft has disabled its legacy internet browser Internet Explorer and is redirecting users to Microsoft Edge.

Almost 27 years after the first version of Internet Explorer greeted users’ screens, Microsoft has disabled the web browser.

Released in 1995, Internet Explorer was once the dominant internet browser, achieving a 95 per cent share of the market in 2004. However, since then, its usage has shrivelled, having been overtaken by other browsers such as Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla Firefox, which adapted better to the mobile world.

Microsoft first announced its intention to retire the browser in August 2021, when it first revealed that Internet Explorer 11 was no longer supported in Windows 10 and Microsoft 365.

In a submission sent to an Australian competition regulator, Microsoft said its decision to retire Internet Explorer was largely due to the fact web developers were less likely to make their sites compatible with the browser. Instead, the company is now redirecting users to Microsoft Edge, launched in 2015, alongside Windows 10. Currently, 4 per cent of all web traffic uses this browser.

The submission said that “after years of attempting to address incompatibilities as they arose with different websites – including some of the most popular ones on the Internet” continuing to differentiate from Chrome with a unique proprietary web platform “no longer made sense” for the company.

Microsoft says that Edge is "a faster, more secure and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer", as well as one that crucially remains compatible with "older, legacy websites and applications".

The company will however retain an inbuilt "IE mode" for Internet Explorer that will allow developers to access legacy applications. Moreover, the browser will still be maintained on older versions of Windows, including Windows 8.1, Windows 7 Extended Security Updates and limited versions of Windows 10.

Despite the gradual demise of Internet Explorer, it still has strong brand recognition. A survey commissioned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in September 2021 found the browsers people were most aware of were Chrome (95 per cent), followed by Internet Explorer (85 per cent), Firefox (81 per cent), Apple Safari (80 per cent) and Edge (69 per cent).

Therefore, despite its early retirement, Internet Explorer is set to be remembered as one of the key tools that shaped the way the internet is used and accessed even today.

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