With growing acceptance of the Internet, Microsoft suddenlyrealised the potential of bundling in its own browser and thusInternet Explorer (IE) was born. Internet Explorer technology wasoriginally shipped as the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Microsoft Plus!For Windows 95. Internet Explorer replaced the need for cumbersome,manual installation steps required by many of the existingshareware browsers.Internet Explorer 2.0 arrived in November 1995 and was the first cross platform browser released by Microsoft and worked on both Macintosh and 32-bit Windows. Internet Explorer 2.0 technology introduced Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol as well as support for HTTP cookies, Virtual Reality Modeling Language VRML), and Internet newsgroups.
The next big Microsoft browser release was Internet Explorer3.0 in August 1996, which had a completely rebuilt core and consideredone of the best browsers of the time. This browser wasdesigned for Windows 95 and included features that users immediatelytook to such as Internet Mail and News 1.0 and WindowsAddress Book. Later, Microsoft NetMeeting and Windows MediaPlayer were also released. Internet Explorer could now display GIF and JPG files, play MIDI sound files and streaming audio fileswithout the assistance of other applications. For Web programmers,though it was a different story altogether, since IE3allowed for a choice of scripting languages and also CascadingStyle Sheets (CSS).
Moving onwards, Internet Explorer 4 made its debut in 1997and was designed for Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT.Another major add-on to the release of IE4 was Outlook Express,which would be installed in the default installation and was anupgrade from the previous Internet Mail and News application.This was the first offering from Microsoft to compete withNetscape Communicator in terms of a mail client being installedwith a browser.
This was also a major release for Web programmers since theintroduction of DHTML as a scripting language in IE4, Web pages could be designed more dynamically. Users could now expandmenus with a click or drag images and objects around on a Webpage. The Web started to look more like the applications andgames that people were accustomed to and less like a static seriesof pages.In September 1998, Internet Explorer 5 was released. DHTMLfunctionality was improved with more features and with emerging Web commerce ideas.
Internet Explorer has also been available for the Macintosh for a long time. Although Netscape Navigator was the browser bundled with the Mac OS for a long time, it stopped in 1997 when Internet Explorer became the default browser for the Mac. But with the release of Safari browser for the Mac OS, development ofIE for the Mac was stopped.
Today, for any Windows user logging on to the Internet for the first time, the blue “e” icon sitting on the desktop is the gateway to the Internet with the default installation of Windows. To useany other browser, you will need to download or source it fromsomewhere and then install it. The little “e” on the other hand isubiquitous, and all you need to do is double-click.
So where do we go from here?
IE 7 which was scheduled for release along with Longhorn willnow be released prematurely. Newer browsers such as Firefox(which we will be talking about soon) will be present, but let’s
face facts, Internet Explorer is here to stay, never mind the antitrustawsuits.