May 25, 2019 | Updated: 10:06 PM EDT

Microsoft Retires IE in Favor of Project Spartan

Mar 18, 2015 12:15 PM EDT

Microsoft sign outside building 99
(Photo : Robert Scoble/Flickr)

Even the mightiest can fall. Internet Explorer was once king of web browsers used by over one billion people around the world, making it one of the most recognized technology brands. However, Microsoft has announced that the browser included with Windows 10 will not use the Internet Explorer name and is actually completely new technology, codenamed Project Spartan.

With Spartan, Microsoft hopes to push past the many weaknesses in IE to produce a browser that is more suited to modern digital life lived on multiple devices. Project Spartan is also just one part of chief executive Satya Nadella's strategy to break the reliance Microsoft had on its old PC monopoly.

Tom Bedecarre, chairman of Akqa, a digital advertising agency owned by WPP, said the 20-year old brand was long past its sell-by date. "In the war of the future, which is mobile, they're losing," he said. "Nobody's going to download Internet Explorer as their mobile browser."

Microsoft has admitted that it failed to make Internet Explorer a loved part of daily life and has even resorted to self mockery in some of its advertising, referring to IE as "The Browser You Loved to Hate."

"It's been a product problem for a long time," said Dan Brewster, a senior interactive designer with Wolff Olins, the marketing agency. "People don't like it," he added, but used it only because it came pre-installed on their computers or because they were required to by their employers.

Though it might be going away, it will never be forgotten. In the late 90s Microsoft created Internet Explorer to counter the rise of Netscape during the early days of the Internet. It was shipped free with Windows, making Microsoft a target of an antitrust investigation that would drag on for years to come.

Within three years of its release, it overtook and crushed Netscape accounting for an estimated 95 percent of browser usage not long after the turn of the millennium. However, its dominance wouldn't last. Through a combination of complacency and the failure to anticipate the shift to mobile computing on Microsoft's part doomed Internet Explorer to its fate.

The open source Firefox browser was the first to mount a strong challenge against Microsoft followed soon by Google's Chrome browser and Apple's Safari browser. Today, Microsoft's browser share has fallen to about 20 percent, equal to the share of Firefox, while Chrome has risen to nearly 50 percent today.

While IE is officially being retired, it will still live on at least for a short time. A new version of Internet Explorer will be released with Windows 10 alongside the Spartan browser. The goal is to make the change easier for companies that still rely heavily on software developed specifically for Internet Explorer. This release is designed to help companies upgrade to Windows 10 while giving them the legacy compatibility they need so they have the time necessary to migrate their existing software to the new platform.

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