Internet Explorer has truly transformed how we compute, becoming our windows to the world. Internet Explorer is a household name, although many abbreviate is as IE, or the lesser known MSIE which stands for Microsoft Internet Explorer. Whatever name is used, Internet Explorer is a Microsoft product best described as an operating system that uses web browsers with graphics.
Microsoft introduced IE in 1995 as part of the Microsoft Windows operating systems (OS). The first release was an add-on to the popular “Plus!” that came with Windows 95. It caught on, and soon Microsoft was making IE available to the public as a free download, or included in service packs.
It didn’t take long for IE to become popular, very popular, and by 2003, Microsoft had achieved a near 95 percent share of the web browser market. Success breeds competition and in 2004 Firefox came along. Firefox uses a technology known as the Gecko layout engine (and has absolutely nothing to do with saving money on car insurance). Firefox was designed first for open systems, especially popular in Europe and now the U.S.
Google Chrome came along in 2008 and then other non-IE operating systems have burst on the scene. Those new systems include the popular Linux, OS-X, and Android. The market share for Internet Explorer has predictably dropped, not because of customer dissatisfaction, but out of sheer numbers. The market share of IE today is close to 50 percent.
It looks simple, and it operates just as simply—that is not by accident. In the late 1990s it is estimated that Microsoft employed over 1,000 highly intelligent technicians working on the project, and each year the company was spending over $100 million on continued improvements and product development for Internet Explorer.
There have been glitches along the way, and just this past April, Microsoft alerted users to a possible vulnerability that could allow hackers to have access to personal computers. Microsoft fixed the flaw, and issued security advisories and patches to protect their customers.
By version 7, alphabet letters from other languages were possible, making the Microsoft product easier to develop in foreign markets. One example is the Russian Cyrillic language which is available on Internet Explorer. Users can access websites that are not spelled in English. In Russian there are addresses using the ending .py which simply means “dot r-u” as py are the Cyrillic letters for “ru” and the abbreviation for Internet in Russian.
Over the years, new releases, and thus new and exciting improvements, have come. The latest release is Internet Explorer 11. Many users like IE-11, and naturally younger consumers are very familiar with the Xbox 360, another version of Internet Explorer.
Despite all the successes, Internet Explorer has weathered challenges, too. An internal decision by 2008 found Microsoft exploring ways to sell consumer data, based on browsing habits. In 2010, the governments of France and Germany began to caution users, telling them not to use Internet Explorer. German officials charged that IE contained malicious code which was embedded to violate the privacy of German internet users.
It turns out that the IE team also knows how to celebrate, and even enjoy some friendly times with the competition. ABC News revealed that IE and Mozilla teams send cakes to each other for important achievements. It is said that the tradition began when an IE team sent a cake over to Mozilla after Firefox 2 was released. Since then, the cake-sending tradition has continued. That is the spirit of Internet Explorer: Windows to the world.
By Jim Hanemaayer