In the early days of the internet, you didn’t have Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to help you find your way around. Niche browsers like Dolphin and Duck Duck Go hadn’t even been thought of yet – the people who invented them were probably still in school or college. If you were using a PC rather than an (ugly, pre-iPhone) Apple Mac to get online, your choices of browser were either Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator. The latter managed to be even worse than the first if you can imagine such a thing, so Internet Explorer was by far and away the default choice.
Being the world’s most popular browser made Internet Explorer a big target for hackers. Unfortunately for all of us, the browser wasn’t always very good at keeping those hackers out. Internet Explorer was notoriously error-prone, clunky, slow and full of security vulnerabilities. It’s not without reason that it came to be affectionately (actually, there was probably no affection) known as “internet exploder.” Sometimes it would freeze on you for no reason whatsoever. It might shut down in the middle of whatever you were trying to do. There were some sites that it just wouldn’t load for reasons best known to itself. The internet was shiny and new back then. We were much more prepared to put up with these inconveniences than a younger user would be today.
By the time Microsoft finally got to grips with what its default browser should look, feel, and (more importantly) function like, it was too late. Chrome and Firefox had appeared, and millions of people had found their way to Apple and started using Safari instead. Even if Microsoft had been able to build the greatest and most reliable browser software in the world, the name “Internet Explorer” was too badly damaged to recover. In truth, some of the final few versions of IE weren’t bad, but nobody trusted them anyway. Ultimately it made more sense to come up with a new name and a new product than it did to persist with the Internet Explorer brand, so Microsoft started making Edge instead. Because of that, most people probably assume that Internet Explorer is dead already. It’s not. It’s still alive at the moment, but it won’t be for much longer.
Tucked away in a blog post on Microsoft’s website made on May 19th, Microsoft has confirmed that it will officially stop supporting Internet Explorer 11 – the final incarnation of the 25-year-old browser – on June 15th 2022. Most people wonder why it’s taking them so long. Virtually nobody uses the browser anymore, so it appears to make little sense to keep it around for more than a year before pulling the plug. As of that date next June, Internet Explorer will no longer be bundled with new downloads or installations of Windows and will be available only through the Long-Term Servicing Channel, which is off-limits to the average consumer. The fact that they need to point out that it’s no longer being packaged means that it’s still being packaged right now and has been packaged for the past five years, whether you knew it was there or not. We imagine that comes as a surprise to some of you, but if you look for it right now in your Start menu, we promise you’ll find it!
As hard as this might be to believe, the disappearance of Internet Explorer might cause issues with a few legacy websites – leftovers from the old days of the internet. It’s also yet another “final nail” in the coffin for Flash, which was originally built for IE long before Chrome and Firefox started taking issue with it. Flash was the software that underpinned many of the games people used to play on the internet and also powered the first few online slots websites. In some cases, there might even be a few online slots websites running Flash and optimised for Internet Explorer now. We mention them because they’re a sign of how far we’ve come in a short space of time. Twenty years ago, Internet Explorer was the only way to see the internet, and online slots websites like Rose Slots NZ were little more than a niche interest. Now Internet Explorer is dead, and online slots sites make more money than real-world slots. The world has moved on, and Internet Explorer no longer has a place in it. For those few affected websites, there might be a ray of hope. Microsoft is killing Internet Explorer, but has committed to including “Internet Explorer” mode in Edge until the end of the decade.
In real terms, shutting down Internet Explorer at this point involves little more than switching off the last light. It’s been more than five years since Microsoft started actively telling people not to use IE and that they should switch to Edge instead. Last year, Microsoft Teams stopped working with Internet Explorer. Two months from now, IE will no longer be compatible with Outlook, OneDrive, Office 365, or just about any other Microsoft platform. It’s been cut away from Microsoft’s body a limb at a time and is now effectively in isolation. Microsoft views its continued existence as a “compatibility solution” for accessing very old websites or interacting with outdated user interfaces and stresses that people should only ever use it for this reason. Presumably, that’s because they’re worried about security vulnerabilities, although the irony is at this point that no hacker would ever bother trying to exploit people through IE because there aren’t enough users to make it worthwhile.
If you’re under the age of twenty-five, you probably won’t even bat an eyelid at this news. You might have used IE once or twice, but Chrome and Firefox have been around as long as you’ve been online. For older web users, though, this is a watershed moment. We didn’t particularly love Internet Explorer. Most of the time, we didn’t even like it. That familiar logo is like an old friend, though, and as it’s shut down for the final time, it almost feels like a reminder of our own mortality. Farewell, Internet Explorer. You sometimes made using the internet hard, but we’d never have made it online without you.