Internet Explorer, from quasi-monopoly to irrelevance

Internet Explorer logos

Internet Explorer, once the most popular browser in history, disappeared unable to survive the change in users and the advertising power of Google.

In many blogs related to Linux and free software the fact that Microsoft stopped giving support to Internet Explorer was celebrated. It is true that it was only given to some corporate clients, but for those of us who suffered from the time when sites "Only suitable for Internet Explorer" forced Linux users to install Opera or some Firefox extension that tricked the site into hiding which browser we used It is an event that we dreamed of.

However, the disappearance of Internet Explorer occurred when Microsoft, forced by the market, had embraced web standards, Internet Explorer 11 was not Internet Explorer 6, and what made it throw in the towel was Google and its monopolistic practices.

From quasi-monopoly to irrelevance

The basis of the first version of Internet Explorer must be traced back to Mosaic, the first web browser graph of history since its code was the basis used by Microsoft for its first browser released in 1994 as part of an expansion pack to the base version of Windows 95.

There was a version 1.5, the first included for free with Windows, and the first headache that the company had to face for that decision as Mosaic rights holder Spyglass considered that the free inclusion violated the license it had granted to Microsoft

The settlement was settled for a fee and marks the first time Microsoft has successfully eluded independent auditing of its business practices.

Version 2 of the browser was released a year later and is the first multiplatform (Also available for Apple MacIntosh and PowerPC) and multilanguage.. From a technical point of view, it added support for the POP and SMTP email protocols, for HTTP cookies and the SSL security protocol. Markers could also be used.

In 1996 Microsoft makes a masterful move that would end up dethroning the then leader Netscape. YoInternet Explorer 3 could use your competitor's add-ons. It also added support for two technologies that, although now a bit old-fashioned, were popular at the time. ActiveX and frames.

With Internet Explorer 4, released in 97, Microsoft takes another step down the path of monopoly by integrating the browser with the operating system. The measure was too much for the Department of Justice that obtained a favorable sentence in an antitrust case. However, with appeals and the government's political reversal, Microsoft managed to just have to share the APIs with other companies.

It would be with version 5, extended to other platforms such as Solaris and HP-UK, with which Microsoft reaches 80% of the market

the enemy of the people

Stealing a title from my compatriot Borges, if someone were to write a Universal History of Technological Infamy, Internet Explorer 6 would undoubtedly have a place of honor.

Officially it is still the most popular browser in history since it came to have 90% of the market. Of course, at a time when the PC was the exclusive device to navigate. Unofficially he is probably the most insulted.  Those trying to do standards-compliant web development had to struggle with a browser that bookmarked them. Those who used a different browser suffered from lazy programmers who only wrote for Explorer.

In addition, it had multiple bugs and was the favorite target of computer criminals.

In the end, even Microsoft hated it because a large user base refused to install later versions and code maintenance was a real nightmare.

With version 7 of the year 2006 Microsoft did not rest on its laurels. Taking note of the appearance of a new player in the market (Mozilla Firefox was born two years before and Google promoted it whenever it could) it copied the use of tabs and improved them by giving them preview features and the possibility of dragging and dropping them.

Learning the lesson of the security problems of the previous version, the developers restricted read and write permissions to the user's profile.

Nor did they forget those who watched porn at work or teenagers who shared a computer with the rest of the family. IE 7 allowed you to clear cache, cookies, passwords, and history with a single click.

In the next article we will see how and why Internet Explorer disappeared and why it is not good news for free software.


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