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Is this the end of Internet Explorer?

clip_image002Microsoft has announced that its iconic browser - Internet Explorer - will not be the main web browser when they launch the eagerly anticipated Windows 10, in a move that would appear to signal the end for the now 20 year old “IE”.

Microsoft has instead announced that a completely new browser, currently code-named “Project Spartan” will replace Internet Explorer as the main browser with the new operating system. Chris Capossela, Microsoft’s Head of Marketing, told a conference this week that they are now researching “what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be”. However, Microsoft has also said that the browser will not disappear immediately and will still be available with some versions of Windows 10, so maybe it is not goodbye completely just yet.

Internet Explorer used to be the leading web browser, but in recent years it has been overtaken by both Chrome and Firefox as web users’ browser of choice. It was first launched in 1995 as the challenger to Netscape Navigator (anyone remember that?!) but it was Microsoft’s decision the following year to bundle IE in with the Windows operating system that led to it’s overwhelming dominance and the eventual end of Netscape Navigator. In press coverage announcing this move it has been described as “beleaguered” and “outdated”, but that has not always been the case. Around the year 2000 it accounted for 95 per cent of all browser usage, and it dominated people’s choice of browsers for over a decade until Apple and Google brought their own products to the table to challenge IE’s dominance. There were 11 versions launched between 1995 and now. So, aside from all the mocking, there is bound to be some nostalgia for IE as well, particularly among the generation of internet users for whom accessing the internet was synonymous with using IE back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, or as The Telegraph put it “when you couldn’t use the phone and be online at the same time”.

But whilst some people took to Twitter this week to mourn the so-called passing of IE, many people also mocked the browser on the microblogging site, perfectly illustrating why this rebrand had become necessary. It is now believed that only 13-20% of web browsing is done through IE, and that nobody is downloading IE to use as the browser of choice on their mobile phone. Part of the problem has been IE’s vulnerability to security flaws, but part of it has also been Microsoft’s failure to adapt their product to keep pace with changes in people’s web browsing habits and tastes. It is hoped that this rebrand will change that and make a huge difference to Microsoft. We will see when Windows 10 is launched later this year.

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