Microsoft has officially stopped supporting its Explorer web browser, a key tool in its rise to tech-industry dominance in the early Internet era but also a key element in the government’s landmark antitrust case against the software firm.
The company signaled a year ago that it would start sending users to its Edge browser, which launched in 2015. Microsoft says Edge has superior technology, and its development came after years of grumbling by Explorer users about what they said were regular glitches as they looked to do much more than just surf the web.
In a blog post, Microsoft Edge Enterprise GM Sean Lyndersay described his experience as an employee who’d long been familiar with Explorer as a user has been “humbling.” He added, “Our story in many ways is the story of the internet and what it has allowed people and organizations around the world to do.”
Despite abiding fondness for Explorer, Lyndersay continued, times have changed. “The web has evolved and so have browsers,” he wrote. “Incremental improvements to Internet Explorer couldn’t match the general improvements to the web at large, so we started fresh. Microsoft Edge is a faster, more secure and modern browser—the best browser for Windows—designed for today’s internet.”
Soon after Explorer debuted in 1995, it swallowed up market share from Netscape Navigator, which was the leading browser at the time. Seeing Microsoft tie its ubiquitous software to Explorer, the U.S. government decided to file a lawsuit in 1997. After five years, the parties agreed to settle the case, with the outcome hobbling Microsoft for a period of time. The once-high-flying company, which defined the tech boom in the 1980s and ’90s, became a lesser player in the 2000s as the internet became a central force in business and society. Google, Facebook and other startups superseded Microsoft as the 21st century began, though in recent years the company has returned to a high perch as one of the most valuable companies in existence.
As far as the browser wars today, Statcounter estimates that Google Chrome controls about 65% of the market, followed by Apple’s Safari at 19%. Microsoft Edge is at about 4%, just ahead of Mozilla’s Firefox.
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