All good things must eventually come to an end, especially if said “good thing” is really more of an “insecure, buggy, honestly not very good at all when you stop to think about it” thing: Earlier today, Microsoft officially announced it will finally pull the plug on its long-running desktop browser and suspend support for it beginning next year on June 22, 2022.
Sean Lyndersay, a Microsoft Edge program manager, wrote in a statement, “Over the last year, you may have noticed our movement away from Internet Explorer (‘IE’) support ... [t]oday, we are at the next stage of that journey: we are announcing that the future of Internet Explorer on Windows 10 is in Microsoft Edge.”
First launched in 1995, Internet Explorer was one of the earliest, widely accessible browsers available to the average consumer. By 2003, it dominated the market with over 95% of all web usage before waning with the arrival of more reliable, secure options like Google Chrome, Mozilla, and Safari. It also prompted the first big discussions about antitrust in big tech, because Microsoft used its dominance in the desktop computer segment with Windows to ensure IE’s dominance, ruining rivals like Netscape in the process.
In 2015, twenty years after its debut, Microsoft began its initial transition towards Microsoft Edge, the browsing heir to its previous flagship. Internet Explorer was never a great browser, but for many, it was the defining means of accessing a burgeoning online world in the 1990s and early 2000s. RIP to a Real(Player) one.
Sticking around for all the “legacy” sites — While the actual Internet Explorer application and its accompanying support service are rapidly heading towards the digital dump, it technically won’t be the end for the browser. As Microsoft reminds us, Edge includes a built-in “IE mode” specifically for those who need to “access those legacy Internet Explorer-based websites and applications” (so rest easy, fans of Space Jam ’96).
This ain’t your parents’ Internet Explorer — Internet Explorer usage has essentially been a joke for at least a decade, but that doesn’t mean people need to sleep on Microsoft Edge. Unlike its predecessor, Edge is consistently adding new and useful features that make it a worthy competitor to juggernauts like Chrome. Plus, because it’s also Chromium-based, you can use all of your Chrome extensions with it [ed.: at least one Input editor uses Edge almost exclusively and swears by it].
Then there’s the beta integration of Edge with next-gen Xbox consoles to enable video game streaming services, which could soon help usher in a whole new era for gamers. While it remains to be seen whether or not Edge can keep up with the competition, if it does, it will be in no small part thanks to its IE originator.
Update (05/21): An earlier version of this story suggested IE would come to and end in June 2021 when in fact it's scheduled to happen in June 2022. We regret the error.