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Internet Explorer is sputtering toward its miserable, embarrassing end.
While the news leaked months ago on social media, Microsoft just made it real; they announced yesterday that they're starting to phase out the jalopy of a browser, IE, just before it hits its 20th birthday later this year. While some have said that the program is dead, that's a bit of an exaggeration as of now—but it's definitely on life support, and Microsoft has its hand loosely on the plug. IE will still exist on some versions of the new Windows, but it’ll have to share some hard drive space with its shinier successor, the new Microsoft browser codenamed "Project Spartan."
Spartan will be the new default browser in Windows 10, and as it gets all of the attention in the coming year, IE will sit buried away in a folder somewhere collecting digital dust, being pulled out by someone because they had to for legacy reasons, like when you clean off the VCR to watch the tape of your sixth birthday because you've been too lazy to figure out how to transfer it to a computer. Yet, the day will come—two or so Windows versions from now—when IE will be plucked out to meet its fate, like a doomed lobster from a tank, to take its seat next to the other Microsoft flops (ahem, Zune), in technological purgatory. Don't act surprised. IE had it coming, baby.
Internet Explorer is unique in that it was able to hang around for so long, but it'll be remembered as the MySpace of browsers. It enjoyed crazy popularity because there was barely any major competition in its heyday (outside of Netscape Navigator, which it demolished), but its developers were too slow to catch up when the competition—in this case, Google Chrome and Firefox—showed up. Unlike MySpace, Justin Timberlake won't be coming to delay its demise.
For a long time growing up, Internet Explorer was the Internet to me. When I learned to code crappy websites on GeoCities as a kid on a desktop computer that my older brother built, it was all through IE. Talking to strangers in any of the hundreds of Yahoo's insane chatrooms was in IE. When it crashed, it was just part of the experience, like blowing your damnedest into a cartridge to play Nintendo. When annoying ads popped up or some junk was added to my toolbar that I couldn't figure out how to get rid of, it was normal. It's just what the Internet did. Side effects, that's all. As a kid I didn't understand that it was even possible to go online without IE. Then, other browsers became available, and there was no turning back once I started using them. Other people felt the same way, IE was ditched, and the browser became a meme—and when you become a meme, your reputation is a goner.
Take these, for example:
(These memes are probably the only reason why you even heard Internet Explorer's name over the last few years.)
That's part of the reason Microsoft is starting over with a renamed browser. The brand is just too tainted at this point. It blows that Microsoft couldn't make IE work when most reports said it improved in recent years, while browsers like Chrome have become more bogged down than ever. The resurrection just wasn't happening. The company even poked fun at its reputation in an ad:
Will I miss IE? I'll miss it as much as you or I miss hearing a modem dial-tone. Even though it's been available, IE has essentially become a ghost of technology's past, like floppy disks, Ask Jeeves, and AIM. But it still is a remnant from that era, and has contributed to its place in history, having been the gateway to the Internet for so many Windows users like myself. And I do like reminiscing of those times. Internet Explorer is a once bright star that faded out long ago, but we had it when it was as its brightest. It still deserves a proper farewell—instead of going through a slow death at the hands of its own team, by something called "Spartan" of all things.
Though I dropped IE long ago when I replaced it with Chrome, it never got a "goodbye." It is St. Patrick's Day today, so maybe I'll pour one out for the old bugger and let that be that. So long, old friend, I'll keep the memories of better times. I'd rather not watch you take your last breaths.