Tech Corner: The Life and Death of Internet Explorer

Ben Winters, Advertising Manager

In 1995, technology giant Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 1, the company’s first web browser released in hopes of competing with the most popular web browser at the time, Netscape Navigator.  Without a great sense of identity, they started to update their browser to emulate their competitors’. By 1997, Internet Explorer 5.0 and Microsoft started to take over the world of web browsing, controlling 80 percent of the market share thanks greatly to its integration into the popular Microsoft home computers.

For years, Internet Explorer enjoyed great popularity in the technology sphere. However, recently, with the introduction of Google Chrome, Opera and a slew of other popular browsers that reconsidered how the Internet can be navigated, its relevance has slowly but surely dwindled. Even most organizations and public computers have these new browsers such as Chrome, while Internet Explorer has gained stigmas as unsafe, unstable, unusable, uncool and slow. It has gone from the industry standard to the one that people love to hate.

Last week at Microsoft Convergence, a yearly conference held by the company to share ideas, see new products, ask and answer questions and more, Marketing Chief of the company Chris Capossela announced they would be phasing out the Internet Explorer brand in exchange for a soon-to-be-named successor, “Project Spartan.” It is, for now, a code name and although not much is known about the browser, some facts seem to be set. It will contain a personal web assistant called Cortana, as featured in the Microsoft smartphone commercials degrading Apple’s virtual assistant Siri, a special reading mode, a more streamlined layout and new annotation tools that will work with either keyboards or pens.

These developmental stages of Project Spartan are critical for the future success of Microsoft in the web browser market share, as a majority of web users seem to be fully satisfied with other choices. According to data from StatCounter collected in February 2015, Chrome had 43.2 percent of the market, while Internet Explorer had 13.1 percent and Firefox held 11.6 percent. Although 13 percent isn’t menial, it is a concerning statistic when put into perspective that it is pre-loaded onto a majority of computers and so tightly associated with the Microsoft brand.

As of now, Internet Explorer on your desktop isn’t going anywhere. There are no specific timeframes for when Project Spartan will come out or when Internet Explorer’s phasing out process will be complete, but the announcement certainly marks the end of an era.

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