Why Microsoft is disconnecting Internet Explorer

He was the most popular navigator in the world; he has become corny. When his name is mentioned, it is often to make fun of his slowness or his inadequacy with the web of 2022. Internet Explorer bows out this Wednesday, in accordance with what had announcement Microsoft in May 2021.

By disconnecting the browser, which concentrates more than 0.64% of global traffic according to StatCounter, Microsoft puts an end to the epic of Internet Explorer. It also gives pride of place to Edge, its other browser launched in 2015 and closer to the technology used by Chrome.

Created in 1995, Internet Explorer is nevertheless a must in the history of the web. After having taken over Netscape, its competitor at the time, the browser with the blue logo weighed up to 95% of the market share. How was it gradually eclipsed by Chrome and Safari? What are the causes of its decline?

1998, Microsoft is accused of anti-competitive practices

While Internet Explorer is only two years old, the US Department of Justice and twenty US states are attacking Microsoft for abuse of a dominant position. They accuse him in particular of disfavoring the competing browser, Netscape, by automatically installing Internet Explorer on its operating system, Windows.

First condemned to separate its activities into two distinct parts (the operating system on one side, the software on the other), Windows appealed. An agreement was finally made in 2001 with the Department of Justice, in which Microsoft undertakes to open up to other browsers. Faced with greater competition, Internet Explorer reached its peak of use in 2004 (95% market share), but also began to decline. It remained the most used browser in the world until 2009, but only represented 64% of global traffic on that date, before dropping below 50% in 2011.

2008: the smartphone boom benefits Google and Apple

In the browser wars, Google and Apple have taken advantage of the arrival of smartphones. The two giants went so far as to turn against Microsoft’s strategy of installing their browsers on their devices by default. Google Chrome, launched in 2008, is thus offered automatically on Android devices, the operating system created the same year by Google.

For its part, Microsoft is struggling to offer a true mobile version of its browser to smartphone manufacturers, despite the integration of Internet Explorer Mobile into its Windows Mobile 6 operating system, also launched in 2008.

· In 2009, the attack on the European Commission

In 2009, the European Commission in turn condemned Microsoft for anti-competitive practices. As in the United States, it accuses the company of having discouraged its competitors from developing and distributing browsers compatible with Windows, and this until 2007. At the end of the day, a fine of 860 million euros.

2010 security issues

In January 2010, Microsoft announced that a security flaw in version 6 of Internet Explorer had been exploited to organize a series of cyberattacks dubbed “Aurora”. used against Google and around thirty other companies, it notably enabled hackers to install spyware on computers.

In response, the German Federal Office for Information Security, as well as the Center of Expertise for Response and Treatment of Computer Attacks, in France, recommend that European Internet users stop using Internet Explorer while waiting the development of a fix.

· In 2015, Edge supplants IE at Microsoft

Launched in 2015, Microsoft Edge becomes the default web browser for devices equipped with Windows 10 and Windows 11, on which it replaces Internet Explorer. From then on, the latter was abandoned by Microsoft, which no longer developed new functionalities there.

In 2019, Microsoft’s cybersecurity leader himself published a blog post in which he asked Internet users to no longer use this browser for security reasons. “Internet Explorer is not adapted to the new Web standards, and even if many sites continue to function correctly, the developers do not test their site any more there”, writes Chris Jackson on the blog of Microsoft.

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Why Microsoft is disconnecting Internet Explorer

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