After years and years of enduring a reputation of being the slowest, least secure, and ugliest web browser in common use, Microsoft has finally decided to scrap Internet Explorer and start over.
First appearing for Windows 95, using IE has been a staple for PC users born at least 20 years ago. Joys were few, frustrations were many, but there it was all the same. Ready to download Firefox or Chrome after a Windows reinstallation. Bravely updating Windows XP because it was the only browser that could. Resolutely asking whether we are really sure that we don’t want it to be our default browser.
Now, much unlike the cherry blossom which falls at the very moment of perfection, the “Old E” is gone.
Well, almost. It will be around until Windows 10 is released, and for years afterwards at your parents’ house.
But what will replace it? Something called “Project Spartan.” Microsoft’s new browser will undoubtedly have another name for the final product, but for now the details are open to speculation. Does “Spartan” allude to simplicity? Maybe. Chrome used to be the quick, stripped-down browser which has recently gone bloated, so perhaps there’s an opening for Microsoft there.
Regardless, Microsoft faces an uphill battle here now matter how you look at it. Sure, IE still accounts for about a quarter of all browsers used, which reflects a massive number of users, but Chrome accounts for nearly half, and it has only been out for about seven years. (This number does account for mobile and other platforms however, because, you know, Android is a Google product and uses Chrome by default.)
Despite the usage statistics, Microsoft has a serious image problem with IE, particularly among younger users and those in the tech industry. Besides the challenge of making a quality product, they also have the task of convincing users that Spartan is not just a re-hash of IE going by another name, or another failed attempt at originality along the lines of early releases of Windows 8.
Either way, adieu, Internet Explorer. We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when.