Internet Explorer, which not too long ago in conventional terms controlled close to 100 percent of the browser segment, is being all but phased out by Microsoft.
The bulk of Microsoft’s browser work will be done by an as-yet-unnamed product that will be part of Windows 10. Currently, it is being referred to as Project Spartan. IE will live on, according to InformationWeek, for businesses that need to use it for software compatibility issues.
In retrospect, the speed of change makes it surprising that the browser lasted this long. InformationWeek’s Kelly Sheridan suggests that there are both technical and marketing reasons for its demise:
Internet Explorer has been around for two decades, and Microsoft has tried to keep it up to speed. Yet despite its upgrades, Microsoft just can't seem to shake the negative connotation that most people associate with a legacy browser that seems dated and clunky compared with competitors Chrome and Firefox. Now Microsoft has confirmed its decision to retire the brand.
Neil McAlister at the Register elaborated on the rationale behind Microsoft's decision. The bottom line is that maintaining IE essentially required double the work of a more modern browser:
Recent versions of IE have included various backward-compatibility modes that force the browser to repeat the errors of earlier versions. But for Microsoft, the need to essentially maintain two browsers simultaneously – one that did things the IE way and one that did them properly – was making it difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of web standards development.
The Register links to a post by Charles Morris, the program manager lead for Project Spartan. He details the thinking that led to the decision and looked ahead at the new browser. Every new version of IE was compatibility tested on the Net’s top 9,000 websites. To be released, it would have to score higher than both the previous version of IE and its competitors.
Despite this methodology, anecdotal feedback to Morris’ team suggested that four classes of problems persisted. These issues, which are described in the post, led the company to make the decision to move on from IE. (A crash of IE 11 during the weekend of February 21 was caused by a problem with Norton Internet Security, not Internet Explorer, according to CBR Online.)
Internet Explorer almost completely leaving the scene is more of a big deal from an historical and even sentimental point of view than a business one. Microsoft will remain a major player in the browser segment. It will just do so with a structurally modernized browser.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.