I was surprised this week to see the words “Internet Explorer” in the news.
When Internet Explorer first came out, it was a big deal back in 1994. Windows 95 coming out also helped this brand become well known as families began purchasing personal computers at home. In 2003, IE had the cornerstone of the internet with 95% holding of the market. They had a mobile version on their Windows Mobile operating system, a version on Xbox, and several others versions available, but despite this, Internet Explorer is finally being retired in 2022. I vividly remember using Internet Explorer on many different operating systems from Windows 95 to Windows NT. Similarly to most users, I stopped using it when Mozilla Firefox was launched in 2004 and started to use Google Chrome when it launched as well in 2008. How did these kinds of browsers lose dominance and what does that mean in terms of web development?
First, some technical background:
Current statistics show that the majority of users in the United States use Google Chrome, nearly 50%. Second to this is Apple Safari covering around 36%. Third place goes to Microsoft Edge. There are a lot of people who simply use the default browser that is installed on their operating system, Safari for macOS and Microsoft Edge on Windows. Google Chrome became a wildly popular download on many devices since it syncs so seamlessly with Gmail users (1.8 billion users globally). From a technical point of view, these browsers have different structures for how they load webpages. When we first started building webpages back in 2005, Internet Explorer was at the top of the market so that was the primary tool that was used to check rendering. As other browsers have taken over, there was a transition to using other browsers to check how pages rendered, and needing to build specific code for the page to load within IE. In my web development classes that I teach at Treasure Valley Community College, we specifically have chapters dedicated to coding webpages to ensure they load properly on IE due to technical differences. I believe it’s time to drop these chapters from the curriculum now that IE is finally fully retiring.
Recognizing the loss of dominance, Microsoft created Microsoft Edge in 2015. Initially, this was still using their own proprietary engine, but in 2019 they did a complete rebuild within a Chromium-based/open source model, similar to Google Chrome. As web developers, we were able to test the beta version of this rebuild and were quite happy with the performance and stability. It was a vast improvement! Microsoft collaborating in an open source project seemed like a stark contrast with their history of developing closed-source products, but we are happy to see this come together as a properly functioning browser. In our tests, we were quite happy, but still don’t use it as our primary browser. Microsoft continues to develop Edge into a better product for consumers and businesses, and has special IE/ compatibility mode for legacy sites and applications that has been available for a couple years.
What does this have to do with your webpage?
For the majority of consumers, Internet Explorer has been off the market long enough that it’s becoming a distant memory. There are still many companies that use custom applications and specific programs that work only within the Internet explore environment, so Microsoft finally stopping full support for IE is more of an issue for them, but not so much for small businesses looking for a webpage or folks who want to casually surf the internet. At BosonHub, we build quality web pages, including webpages with significant features such as learning management systems or ecommerce solutions. It is vital that you have a webpage that loads on all devices, especially if you are running Google ads or are promoting it through SEO initiatives (we do this too!) We have stopped building pages that specifically are supported for Internet Explorer in 2017 – we build almost all of our webpages in WordPress with Divi Builder for fast, beautifully designed pages. WordPress now powers about 30% of the Internet, and so we feel confident that the vast majority of users will have a fantastic experience on the webpage that we build for you!
Many pages that were built in the era of Internet Explorer are still online, if your business needs to have a webpage rebuild in a modern platform compatible with modern devices, contact us today! Our team has the experience to rebuild custom enterprise applications or small business webpages, as well as active management to make sure your sites are secure and always up to date.