Microsoft axes Internet Explorer web browser after 27 years

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Microsoft will shut down its Internet Explorer browser after 27 years on Wednesday, closing the book on what was many people’s first introduction to the web.

Internet Explorer will be “retired” from June 15, meaning that most consumers who attempt to open the application will instead be directed to Edge, Microsoft’s more recent browser. Microsoft will start disabling the software completely in the following months.

Microsoft released Internet Explorer in 1995 in an attempt to challenge the then-dominant Netscape Navigator during the dial-up era. Bill Gates’ decision to install the browser with Windows by default threatened Microsoft’s future in the late Nineties and early 2000s, when it led to bruising competition battles with US and European regulators.

Microsoft introduced Edge in 2015 and has gradually phased out Internet Explorer. However, the browser is still used by around 5.2pc of desktop web users, according to figures from Net Market Share.

Internet Explorer was once the dominant browser but struggled to keep pace with innovations from Firefox and Google’s Chrome, such as tabs and pop-up blockers, and was seen as clunky. Apple and Google’s dominance of mobile operating systems meant the browser failed to gain a toe-hold in smartphones.

Repeated relaunches failed and Microsoft introduced the Edge browser alongside the Windows 10 operating system in 2015.

Despite the company throwing its efforts behind Edge, many businesses continue to use internal applications that run on Internet Explorer. It means the shutdown could potentially disrupt office life. Microsoft has added an Internet Explorer mode to Edge to allow those applications to remain active, while some specific versions of Windows used by IT departments will support the software. Windows 11, the new operating system introduced last year, does not run Internet Explorer.

Google’s Chrome is the dominant web browser on desktops with around 70pc of the market, followed by Edge and Firefox. In 2013, the EU fined Microsoft €561m (£486m) for failing to offer users a choice of browsers when installing Windows.

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