27 Mar 2015

The end of an era; Microsoft is retiring Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer has been a perennial part of the Windows operating system for decades. It’s had its share of ups and downs, but coming built in to all Windows operating systems has meant that even when it wasn’t the ideal choice of browser, it remained deeply relevant in the browser wars.

Now, for Windows 10, Microsoft has announced the intention to retire the Internet Explorer brand in favour of something new, currently codenamed Project Spartan. It’s clearly part of the same branding refresh that will see Microsoft skip a Windows 9 to go straight to the ‘Big X’.

This new browser will be the default browser built into all Windows 10 devices, including mobile phones and tablets.

We’ve already seen hints of what to expect. A couple of product demonstrations, for example, have shown the ability to start reading an article on a PC, and then pick up from the same spot on mobile later on. The browser will also present content in a manner that is appropriate for the device, to help facilitate easy reading on the smaller phone or tablet screens.

The modern Internet Explorer is in many ways the casualty of its past. While there’s no particular area where the current version of the browser that is on modern systems falls behind its competitors, such as Chrome, Firefox, or Apple’s Safari, either in terms of reliability, security, or in its  feature sets, previous generations of Internet Explorer were far outclassed. Many consumers and business users are now in the habit with a new device or operating system of immediately downloading the latest Chrome or Firefox release, and the perception remains that Internet Explorer is an inferior product.

So a new branding, as well as enhancements to take advantage of Windows 10, will put Microsoft back in a strong position to retake a leadership position in the browser wars. So, while we don’t even have a name for Microsoft’s new way to connect users with the Internet, the early signs are positive indeed, and show that the vendor is very keen to wash its hands of past controversies and move forward with a fresh slate for its new operating system.