History of Internet Explorer: Microsoft’s Road From IE to Edge


Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a web browser developed by Microsoft and is included in the Microsoft Windows Operating Systems. IE included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995 after the release of Windows 95. Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks.

Also Read: History of Windows: Windows 1.0 to Windows 10

The Beginning

To begin with, Internet Explorer wasn’t the first web browser in the world. Now a short story on how it all started. In 1995, Microsoft was working on a very important project, a code-named “Chicago”.  An extension of that project – a code-named “O’Hare” after Chicago’s O’Hare Airport – was being developed simultaneously. Microsoft’s intent was to combine the technologies of both projects into a single product for the customers.  Toward the end of these projects, Microsoft made the deal decided to take the O’Hare technologies, and distribute them as part of a separate add-on pack to the Chicago product.  Chicago, now known as Windows 95, proved to be one of the most successful operating systems to date and O’Hare, the add on now famously known as the Internet Explorer 1.0  and this is how it all began.

Internet Explorer 1.0

Internet Explorer 1.0 making its debut on August 16, 1995. It is a reworked version of the Spyglass Mosiac. It came with the purchase of Windows 95 Plus! and with at least some OEM versions of Windows 95.

There is a less of functions on this web browser. It’s required to install a manual installation to run on websites, and over then there weren’t so many websites.

Although Internet Explorer 1.0 integrated perfectly with Windows 95, few customers used it; most people preferred the Netscape browser or other web browsers such as Mosaic, Lynx and Opera. Microsoft remained intrepid.

Internet Explorer 1.5 was released several months later for the release of Windows NT 4.0. They added support for the HTML table rendering. It is free of charge on Windows NT 4.0, you have to install it. This version is no longer supported by Microsoft.

Internet Explorer 2.0

This is released on Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows NT 3.5 on November 22, 1995. There are some new features like; SSL support, cookies, VRML, RSA, and newsgroups. This version was also the first time it could run on a Mac OS. IE2 is available in 12 languages.

Internet Explorer 3.0

This version of Internet Explorer is released on August 13, 1996 and became the first popular version of Internet Explorer series. It has support for CSS, but yet was this support not complete.

The war between The Netscape browser and IE version 3.0 raged fiercely but there was one distinguishing factor that made all the difference, Netscape charged for their browser while Microsoft gave Internet Explorer for free.

IE 3.0 also has support for JScript, VBScript, and Java, so more programming languages. This version was also bundled with Internet Mail, NetMeeting and news so there were more possibilities to communicate with other people. There were 100 employees at the Internet Explorer team.

Internet Explorer 4.0

Internet Explorer 4.0 is released in October 1997. There were some upgrades in the interface and the speed of the browser. This introduced Group Policy, it allowed companies to block some settings for users.

Internet Mail and News are replaced by Outlook Express. Also some upgrades in the Microsoft chat and NetMeeting. When IE 4.0 was introduced it was followed by a browser war.

Internet Explorer 5.0

IE 5.0 is released on March 18, 1999. When you install Windows 98 SE or bought the Office 2000 bundle this device will be automatically downloaded.

This version brought some support for bi-directional text, XML, XSLT and the possibility to save a website in HTML-format. The ‘https’ format is also launched for a more safe network. The employees grew from 100 to 1000 people.

Internet Explorer 6.0

Internet Explorer 6.0 is released on August 27, 2001. This version has support for DHTML, CSS levels and DOM levels. Further, there is a new version of Internet Explorer Kit delivered, upgraded media bar, Windows Messenger- integration, and automatically image. Some interface changes would fit in the new style “Luna” of Windows XP.

Most of the users kept using IE 6.0 cause many people refuse to update the browser. According to sales figures, there were still 1.7% users that use Internet Explorer 6 (in October 2014). Microsoft aimed to take the percentage down to 1%.

IE 6’s competitor Firefox was released on November 9, 2004, and challenged Internet Explorer’s dominance with 60 million downloads within nine months. Firefox is the spiritual successor of Netscape Navigator, as the Mozilla community was created by Netscape in 1998 before their acquisition by AOL.

Internet Explorer 7.0

This version is launched on October 18, 2006. There is a great gap between the release date of IE 6.0 and IE 7.0. This is because IE 6.0 has good reviews.

There were some new updates like support for surfing on the internet with tabs, a search tool, IDN and feedreader. IE 7 is bundled with Windows Vista an Windows Server 2008. The name “Microsoft Internet Explorer” is also changed to “Windows Internet Explorer”.

Google Chrome browser was released on September 2, 2008 for Windows XP and later. Firefox v 3.5 usage grew to a peak of 32.21% at the end of 2009 overtaking Internet Explorer 7.

Internet Explorer 8.0

This Internet Explorer version is released on March 19, 2009. The development started in August 2007. IE8 was supported on Windows XP SP2, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008. When Windows 7 was released this IE is also delivered with the Operating System.

It contains improvements in CSS 2.1 – support, AJAX, RSS, SmartScreen-filter and Web slices. They also added the “Favourite” tab where you could save your favorite website. This was also the last version of Windows XP.

Internet Explorer 9.0

2 years later the IE 9.0 is released on March 14, 2011. The development began fast after this release. This is available in Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008..

It is supported by new abilities like CSS3, ICC v2 en v4. The User Interface is completely changed, same for the logo and new security tools. This version was rated very well according to the Acid3-test.

In 2012 Google’s Chrome web browser just passed Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to become the most-used browser in the world, says the latest data from a digital analytics service. Chrome was the No. 1 browser for a sustained period of one week. Exactly 31.88% of the world’s web traffic was done on Chrome, according to StatCounter, while IE is a close second at 31.47%.

Internet Explorer 10.0

Internet Explorer 10 was released to manufacturing along with Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. The latter reached general availability on September 4, 2012 while the former reached general availability on October 26, 2012.

The support for CSS3 and HTML5 are drastically improved. The SmartScreen filter is integrated into Windows itself. There is also a built-in autocorrection tool. There are improvements in HTML5 and CSS3. They support WebGL and SPDY. Also, this version allows people to synchronize tabs. It is possible to make folders for the “Favourite” tool. The combability tool is disappeared. There is also a new function “Read display”.

Internet Explorer 11.0

Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) is the eleventh and final version of the Internet Explorer web browser by Microsoft. It was officially released on October 17, 2013 for Windows 8.1 and on November 7, 2013 for Windows 7. The browser was also shipped with Windows 10 on its release on July 29, 2015.

The End

Internet Explorer 12 is a planned version of Internet Explorer. This would be the standard web browser of Windows 10.

But later, Microsoft has released the first version of its much-anticipated replacement for Internet Explorer. Called Project Spartan was named as Edge Browser it is part of Windows 10.

Microsoft decided to use the Microsoft Edge browser for the standard browser of this OS but these plans were discontinued. So IE 11.0 would be the standard browser of Windows 10.

Microsoft announced that they kept Internet Explorer 11.0 and will be still provided with Windows 10, on March 24, 2015. Against the earlier schedule, it is not provided with the Edge-engine. Later Microsoft decided to take the lead to the Microsoft Edge browser this could run on more devices and is improved by speed and interface.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is a web browser developed by Microsoft. It was first released for Windows 10 and Xbox One in 2015. Edge includes integration with Cortana and as extensions hosted on the Microsoft Store. Unlike Internet Explorer, Edge does not support the legacy ActiveX and BHO technologies. Originally built with Microsoft’s own EdgeHTML and Chakra engines.

In 2019 Edge was rebuilt as a Chromium-based browser, using the Blink and V8 engines. As part of this change (codenamed Anaheim), Microsoft has made the preview builds of Chromium-based Edge available on Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and macOS, in addition to Windows10. As of September 2019, only preview builds of Chromium-based Edge are available. Microsoft intends to release the first Chromium-based Edge version on January 15, 2020.

According to StatCounter, in August 2019 Edge overtook the market share of Internet Explorer (IE) on PC, Edge in fourth place and IE in fifth. Chrome being first and Firefox second. While IE’s share dropped, no single version of Edge is more popular than Internet Explorer 11.

Also Read: History of Windows: Windows 1.0 to Windows 10

Author: Vinoth George C is a freelance tech columnist from New Delhi, India. He likes to learn and create new tech concepts and aspire to build a technology that exceeds our humanity.