A Eulogy For Internet Explorer Because The OG Browser Deserves A Proper Send-Off
The 8-track player, VHS tapes, and now Internet Explorer. The only difference between these extinct technologies is that the former two seem vintagey and neat to kids born after the '90s. Internet Explorer? Not so much. Despite several attempts to resuscitate its image to appeal to younger generations, the struggling Internet browser has been increasingly overshadowed by Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome in the last decade, so now its owner is putting it out of its misery. On Monday, Microsoft announced that it's killing Internet Explorer and will be replacing it with a yet-to-be-named browser.
IE's death was pronounced at the Microsoft Convergence conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s head of marketing, wasted no time with introducing its replacement, a browser currently codenamed Project Spartan.
We’re now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10. ... Judging by Microsoft’s own research, it’s obvious the company will move as far away from Internet Explorer as possible, and it’s likely Project Spartan will have the Microsoft name attached to it.
Microsoft's desire to leave IE as far behind as possible is understandable — it's become such a non-thing that some people would rather go offline and do other things than use IE to surf the web. It's even an answer choice for BuzzFeed's Which Commonly Hated Thing Are You? quiz.
Despite its now irredeemable reputation, it's still the OG Internet browser to many people, and in its heyday in the early aughts, it was our only way to charter new territories online. As someone who remembers using Internet Explorer because it was our only option at the time, I myself would like to give Microsoft's flagship browser a proper send-off.
I had the privilege of meeting Internet Explorer in 1997, when my friend invited me over to "check out this new thing on my computer." I didn't quite understand it at the time, but it was the Internet. The vessel we were using to, yes, explore it was Internet Explorer. Say what you will about IE, but there has never been a more appropriate name for a browser since.IE was born on August 16, 1995, when its very first version, Internet Explorer 1 made its debut as part of the add-on package Microsoft Plus! For Windows 95. Since then, it's gone through 11 reincarnations, many of which faced hardship their whole existences as other browsers like Firefox and Chrome emerged to seize IE's demographic and drain its lifeblood. Like millions of others, IE has touched my life in invaluable ways. It allowed me to develop an early addiction to free music with the advent of Napster, and it got me through college (I had spent the majority of my high school years offline, a completely absurd and hard-to-believe notion now). Going online was still a new and clunky experience during my formative years, so every second spent on IE was like discovering new land. IE, you may not have been perfect, and the majority of the world has forgotten about you, but I never have, and I never will. Partly because the frustration of seeing this will haunt me forever:
Internet Explorer 6, which was released in 2009, made Complex's 50 Worst Fails in Tech History list, and three years before that, Microsoft execs were already admitting to the browser's shortcomings. Dean Hachamovitch, the corporate VP who oversaw the browser and spearheaded efforts to modernize it over the years, told the audience at a 2006 Microsoft conference:
I want to be clear: We messed up. As committed as we are to the browser, we just didn’t do a good job demonstrating it.
Capossela's announcement comes just a few months after Hachamovitch announced that he would be leaving his leadership post at Microsoft. The marketing exec also emphasized that while IE will still exist on some versions of Windows 10 for compatibility purposes, the new Project Spartan browser will not be associated with the IE brand.
Rest in peace, Internet Explorer.