Internet Explorer will always (though not fondly) be remembered as the first staple internet browser. The program was initially the mainstay of all computers whenever they needed access to the internet. It was favored over dozens of other web browsers. Despite this early dominance, the program paled in comparison to newer wildcards that seemingly came galloping out of the blue.
Internet Explorer was simply not optimized enough, and user experience evidently suffered for this overlooked detail.
Though people at the time didn’t exactly recognize it simply because they had no other browsers to compare IE with. One could argue that Opera was such a contender, but really, compared to IE, it simply wasn’t as widely used. According to this article, about 95% of the total user base was using Internet Explorer 6 in 2002.
So, how exactly did Microsoft’s Internet Explorer lose such a big portion of the market to newcomers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox? We’ll get to that in a bit. It was, in essence, a slow death for Internet Explorer. But to drive a point, we remember the following:
“Pride cometh before the fall.”
To put things into perspective, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer utterly destroyed the competition in 2002. The web browser proudly ended 2002 with 95% of the total user base onboard their platform. No other web browser could ever hope to contend with Microsoft — or so Microsoft thought.
In 2003, Microsoft disbanded the Internet Explorer team. This may be speculation, but the circumstances seemed to point toward one thing — that the team was no longer needed because Internet Explorer was so dominant in the web browser market and it seemed that no other browser could compete.
However, Internet Explorer was so laden with bugs and missed opportunities. It was slow, bare, and lacked any features that would have improved user experience. Some would say that this was pure hubris on the part of Microsoft as they did little to no maintenance on IE. Security holes were also prevalent in the web browser.
In 2004, Mozilla Firefox was introduced to the market. A year later, this newcomer was shaping up to be a contender in the browser war. Compared to Internet Explorer, Firefox was zippy and it was secure to boot.
In 2008, Google Chrome came out of nowhere with such strong promise. It was fast, it was light, and best of all, it was free. Google Chrome also came with support for extensions, something that Microsoft was not willing to implement. As Google Chrome took more and more of the market, Internet Explorer became less and less used — and for good reason.
Microsoft failed to adapt to the ever-dynamic market it once dominated; the consequences of such complacence echo, and echo loudly, to this day.
In March of 2015, Microsoft declared that it would be phasing out Internet Explorer. This was to apply in Windows versions beginning with Windows 10. As we all know today, Internet Explorer was replaced with Microsoft Edge, which Microsoft markets quite aggressively.
Sadly, the damage has been done and the move to mitigate it was too little, too late. Microsoft Edge still struggles to gain traction, even more so after this fiasco.
If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s to keep with the times, and get with the program. And one way you can do so is to check out Spreadsheeto’s guide to Pivot Tables. While Internet Explorer was obviously one giant flop, Microsoft enjoys huge successes with its other programs. Microsoft Excel is still one of the most widely-used spreadsheet programs to date and that isn’t about to change anytime soon.
Stay relevant. Educate yourself and keep improving. That’s how you survive in today’s cutthroat environment.