For millions it was their first ever web browser but as of today – after 27 long years – Microsoft is no longer supporting Internet Explorer.
It is a long-delayed retirement. Even when the company previously planned to pull support last August its usage had shrivelled to a fraction of what it once was.
Anybody who now tries to use the desktop application will find it is disabled and out of support and will be automatically redirected to the Microsoft Edge browser.
For some the browser inspires nostalgia, and for many more it provokes memories of slow-loading pages, bugs, crashes and frustrations.
It was released in 1995 and, by being bundled with Microsoft’s Windows operating system, quickly became the web’s most used browser with a share of 95% by 2003.
But as web functionality developed with video streaming and other services, Internet Explorer – despite updates – lagged behind rivals such as Mozilla Firefox in 2004 and Google Chrome in 2008.
Microsoft’s successor browser, Edge – which the company announced would be replacing Internet Explorer in 2015 – is bundled with Windows and is today used by about 4% of all web traffic.
The following year, Internet Explorer was dethroned as the most used browser with Chrome taking the top spot – something it has continued to hold ever since.
Partially this is due to mobile browsing dominating the web. Google’s Chrome and Apple’s browser Safari have succeeded with roughly 65% and 20% of the market share respectively.
This market share has won both companies some trouble.
In 2018 Google was fined €4.34bn (£3.8bn) for forcing phone makers to pre-install apps including Google Search and Chrome to the exclusion of other search engines and web browsers.
Microsoft had a similar tangle with the US Department of Justice around the turn of the millennium, fighting a suit launched in 1997 – and settling it in 2002 – that alleged it used its monopoly with Windows to force out competitors.
Microsoft says that Edge is “a faster, more secure and more modern browsing experience than Internet Explorer”, as well as one that crucially remains compatible with “older, legacy websites and applications”.