Farewell IE: Ten things you might not know about Internet Explorer
Codenames, market shares, legal cases, the works…
The Internet has been hailed as one of the most important inventions in the history of mankind and Internet Explorer has been at our services for 25 years allowing us to access this ever so important invention. Now all of us have had our issues with the browser but what cannot be denied is the fact that this veteran Web browser has served us for years – mainly as an actual Web browser and then by being the subject of various jokes, memes, and other content, as other browsers (most notably Chrome) began to emerge. Today, Internet Explorer memes are like kidney jokes that surface every year when Apple launches a new iPhone: evergreen and timeless.
And after all these years, Microsoft has now decided to pull the plug on Internet Explorer – Microsoft’s apps and services will stop supporting Internet Explorer 11 from 17 August 2021. And even though it has been ages, most of us actually used Internet Explorer as our web browser (its global share is down to almost 3 percent today), let us face it, it feels kind of odd that the Web browser that introduced so many of us to the Internet will be gone. Forever. The end of an era, you (and Monica from “Friends”) might say! So, before it goes for good, we did a little digging and found ten things that you might not know about Internet Explorer. Cherish it while it’s around – no browser ever made us surf as much on it, or laugh so much at it.
1. Started from the bottom (O’Hare) and now… we are here!
Internet Explorer came from the house of Microsoft but the team that started it was still small. The project started with a handful of people. Thomas Reardon headed the show and had about five or six people while starting out. The group grew exponentially and from a team of six people, they became a team of over a hundred in just two years and hit another employee milestone in the next two years when it became 1,000 people strong. The first Internet Explorer was incidentally released in August 1995. Incidentally, the codename for the first Internet Explorer was “O’Hare,” which was actually a reference to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Why “Chicago”? Well, duh, because the codename for Windows 95 was Chicago!
2. Third time’s a charm
3. Hard to get rid of!
Microsoft did more than just pairing IE for free with Windows. To make people use Internet Explorer more or to keep nudging them to make it their primary browser, Microsoft also made it difficult to uninstall the browser. Because Windows and Internet Explorer were integrated very closely, uninstalling the browser caused the operating system to slow down and also caused problems in other programs as many Windows programs used the browser. How’s that for strategy?
4. The ruler of the browsing world (at least at one point)
It may be hard to believe now but after winning the First Browser War against Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer actually had no serious competition left. It ruled the browsing world and went on to become the most dominant web browser in the market. Between 2002-2003, the browser reached its peak with about 95 percent of usage. Yep, 95 percent. Do you want a comparison? Chrome, which we think everyone uses today, actually has about 70 percent share!
5. IE even got Microsoft sued
It was not all roses for Internet Explorer, though. Microsoft actually got sued for maintaining an unlawful monopoly in the PC market because of its being bundled with Windows. In May 1998, a case was filed against Microsoft Corporation where Judge Thomas Jackson found the company guilty in April 2000 and ordered it to break up the company into two units where one unit would dedicatedly develop operating systems while the other would work on software components. The order was later overturned.
6. Enjoying free web browsers? Thank Internet Explorer
What do you do if you want a new browser? Well, the answer is simple: you go to the Internet and download one. Easy, right? It wasn’t as easy and most importantly, FREE always. Initially, to use programs, people had to buy them in software packages or as separate products. Netscape Navigator and the first few versions of Internet Explorer actually followed this model.
Then Microsoft integrated Internet Explorer with Windows and made it free to download. This meant other browsers had to follow and developers had to make browsers free in order to stand a chance against Internet Explorer. Of course, this resulted in many companies (most notably Netscape) shutting down, but the next time you download a browser without having to pay a penny, remember to thank Internet Explorer.
7. Love Shortcut icons? Thank IE, again!
We all love shortcut icons or tab icons of our favorite websites and apps on our desktops. These actually were made popular with the introduction of Internet Explorer 5 which was the first to support this file type. It may have been slow but it did give us a lot to love! In some ways, these icons were the forerunners of the web app concept, allowing you to access functions and specific data without having to type in a URL or select a bookmark!
8. Mozilla, a hidden Easter egg…and pranks galore
There was an easter egg hidden in the fourth version of Internet Explorer. If you typed “about: mozilla” in the search box it would get you a blank blue screen with an error screen from a Windows system crash. This screen was known as the “Blue screen of death”. The subtle message was that Mozilla, a community formed by Netscape and also the original codename of Netscape Navigator was kind of…well, dead.
The Netscape-IE battles were the stuff of legend. In October 1997, when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 4, some of its over-enthusiastic employees went in the night and placed a huge IE logo (a stage prop) in the lawns of the Netscape headquarters. That was not the end of it – the Netscape team spotted the logo, flipped it around, spray-painted “Netscape Now” on it, and placed a 7 foot Mozilla (Netscape’s mascot) statue on top of it. Yeah, yeah, fun and games in them browser wars.
9. Its own parent poked fun at it
As the years passed, we all got into this love-hate relationship with Internet Explorer and Microsoft actually used this sentiment to market the Internet Explorer 9. It may sound absurd but in 2012 Microsoft created a parody video titled “The Browser You Loved to Hate” which featured jokes at the browser’s performance issues, how ancient it was, and how it was only good for installing other browsers. Explorer memes may be the evergreen source of entertainment but the OG remains Microsoft for making this video. Microsoft incidentally had also made an entire site dedicated to the end of Internet Explorer 6 in an attempt to promote new Web standards. OG indeed!
10. It has an official anime mascot
When the popularity of Internet Explorer was going downhill, Microsoft Singapore revealed an anime mascot of the browser called Inori Aizawa in 2013 during Anime Festival Asia. It was designed by Collateral Damage Studios and the character even had her own Facebook profile. It was a move targeted at anime fans to make them use Internet Explorer more. Sadly, the company did not recognize Inori Aizawa as a worldwide mascot and she was not used in campaigns outside Asia.