Even most Windows users would be surprised that Microsoft’s once-dominant Internet Explorer was still operational until today, but now the web browser has officially been shut down. Now out of support, Internet Explorer 11 has been pushed out in favor of Microsoft Edge after nearly 27 years in existence.
Microsoft first announced IE would be retired in May 2021, revealing June 15th, 2022 to be its expiration date. “Not only is Microsoft Edge a faster, more secure, and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer, but it is also able to address a key concern: compatibility for older, legacy websites and applications,” the company wrote in a blog post.
Starting today, the few stragglers who still use Internet Explorer (yes, apparently they exist) will be redirected to Edge. IE will then be permanently disabled in a future Windows update.
Before first being replaced by Edge with Windows 10, Internet Explorer had long been out of favor with PC users, who primarily used it to immediately download better, more popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox.
The elder millennials among us, however, remember a different time when IE killed off Netscape Navigator, the most dominant browser of the 1990s. Shortly after its release in August 1995, Internet Explorer gained the advantage of being bundled with each copy of Windows, leading most people to use it by default.
Although the Justice Department sued Microsoft over that very competitive advantage in 1997, it took years for the antitrust battle to drag out and IE peaked with a 95% usage share by 2003 — even as it became a slow, bug-ridden mess.
Ultimately, the launches of Firefox (2004) and Chrome (2008) spelled out the imminent doom of Internet Explorer, along with an increased reliance on smartphones that don’t support the browser at all. Perhaps that is IE’s legacy; inspiring programmers to create better alternatives and improving the user experience.
While Microsoft Edge — the current Windows default browser — actually rivals competitors in speed and reliability, it hasn’t caught up to Chrome even on desktop and laptop PCs. According to Statcounter, Edge is the second-most popular desktop browser with a 10% market share to Chrome’s 66%. When factoring in tablet and mobile usage, that number plummets to 4%.