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R.I.P. Internet Explorer

Microsoft will be disabling Internet Explorer. The news inspired jokes, memes and even some fond memories.

Microsoft has announced it will kill off its much-maligned legacy internet browser Internet Explorer (IE) close to 27 years after it graced desktop computers in 1995.

The replacement? Microsoft Edge, which already has an “Internet Explorer mode” built right in. Microsoft said in 2019 that it planned to add an IE Mode within Edge, and the virtualized browser lives on as a configurable mode within Microsoft Edge. That’s important, because the modern Edge browser is simply more secure than Internet Explorer ever was. And you can’t say Microsoft didn’t signal IE’s demise, by basically booting users from accessing hundreds of sites via IE in late 2020.

IE was the gateway to the internet for people born prior to Generation Z, in an era when Microsoft dominated the tech world, before Google, Facebook and TikTok, and when the browser had to be installed on to computers using a CD-rom.

The browser’s death is not a surprise nor is it especially inconvenient for a large majority of internet users in 2022. Microsoft started ringing the death knell for its old internet portal last year. Web analytics site Statcounter (as noted by The Verge) indicates that, by its death, IE usage had dropped to less than 1 percent of total browser market share. The world functionally decided it was dead long before Microsoft did.

Unlike when Adobe killed Flash, this date is not emotional at all to me: when I first started as a web designer (thanks to Fred Siqueira hooking me up at CESAR), then later as Art Director at icorp (thanks to Maurício Carvalho and Caio Correia), and creative director at Pixel 8, our discussions around implementing the coolest features always died when someone asked “will this be compatible with IE?”

At some point, the whole “will this be compatible with Internet Explorer?” was killing some businesses: when we first started implementing web apps, I remember how hard it was for companies like Roamworks to maintain applications: we needed to write a lot of extra code to make sure that the experience “degraded gracefully” on internet explorer (which as actually a nice way of say doesn’t look like sh%&t); we had hundreds of regression tests that we were specific to IE;

Internet Explorer was (way) more often than not the browser that supported the least amount of standards, making it really hard to adopt the latest web app innovations.
Internet Explorer was more often than not the browser that supported the least amount of standards: browser compatibility data and open source governance (Mozilla Hacks, 2019)

Now that I’m working with Strategy, I look back and I say that IE was the perfect study case for the need of facilitating investment discussions with Product Management about hard choices, like:

What would be better to sustain our business in the long run? Fire these customers that are still using Internet Explorer 9 so that we can develop leaner and more modern applications? Or being safe and keep our customer, at the cost of having to maintain two sets of code base?

If I knew then what I know now, I would have said we need finding ways to remove (or at least reduce) subjectivity when we compare, contrast such business decisions to justify the investment on them. R.I.P. Internet Explorer… but I can’t say I’ll miss you!

Sources

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in several countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, The United Arab Emirates, United States, Hong Kong) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles.

During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

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