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Bye, Internet Explorer! Whether you love or hate the browser, here's what it's done for us

Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 21:47:58-04

(WXYZ) — Over the last 20 years, technology has advanced rapidly. Along the way, things have come and gone. And now, one of the oldest game-changing softwares in Internet history has been laid to rest.

RELATED: So long, Internet Explorer. The browser retires today

On Wednesday, Microsoft shut down Internet Explorer, one of the world's earliest web browsers to ever be created.

Internet Explorer visuals

At the time of its entrance in 1995, the web browser was considered a hero amongst web users.

“A lot of people like to paint Microsoft as kind of the villain in any tech story, but in this particular situation, it basically broke the monopoly that had not yet happened that Netscape was trying to do on the browser market," Charles R. Severance the Clinical Professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information said.

Netscape was one of the first web browsers that worked across multiple devices.

The software was created by a group of college students. It was originally free and under the name Mosiac.

“Now they had come from University where they had given it away for free and made us all want this really badly, and their first goal was to get rid of the free version of the web browser," Severance said.

It was clear that any new developers who entered the browser industry could be very rich. So Netscape decided to charge each user $50 to download the software.

“And that might have happened except for Internet Explorer. And that’s where Internet Explorer comes into the picture."

Microsoft realized that if a commercial web browser entered the market then everyone who paid for one of its devices would, in turn, be paying for someone else’s software. Thus, they would be making Netscape very rich.

To stop this they decided to create their own web browser and to make it free.

“There’s numbers, they hired like 1000 people in late 1994 to build Internet Explorer and it actually included some of the free software that was Mosaic,” Severance said.

As technology continued to advance, more and more web browsers began to form and Internet Explorer strived to stand out—a tactic that would eventually hurt them.

“The whole web continued to evolve, the Internet Explorer did not want to evolve so that’s how it goes to be something that we sort of laugh about,” Severance said.

Quickly, users began to switch to browsers like Firefox and Google Chrome, but in this day and age, Severance says developers don't work as hard to knock each other out of the browser market, instead they work together to create a better user experience.

“So perhaps this signals a golden age of kind of muted competition," Severance said. "That’s the optimistic way to look at the end of the long history of Internet Explorer.”

To learn more about the history of Internet Explorer, the fall of Netscape, the rise of Google Chrome, the outlier browser that is Safari, and the future of web browsers as a whole watch the full interview with Charles R. Severance below.

UM professor recaps the life of Internet Explorer, the rise of Google Chrome and more

You can also skim through the video on YouTube. The description has a topic breakdown of the entire interview.