Internet Explorer RIP: the disruptor disrupted

Microsoft is killing off Internet Explorer, which was once king of the web browser market. How the mighty fall.

The end of a web-browsing era, as reported by The Verge:

While Microsoft has dropped hints that the Internet Explorer brand is going away, the software maker has now confirmed that it will use a new name for its upcoming browser successor, codenamed Project Spartan. Speaking at Microsoft Convergence yesterday, Microsoft’s marketing chief Chris Capossela revealed that the company is currently working on a new name and brand.

It’s hard to remember this now, but a decade or so back, Internet Explorer was the web, more or less. A whole generation of internet users grew up associating the “e” logo with the internet.

That was a deliberate strategy on Microsoft’s part – they steamed into the browser space late, swept Netscape Navigator aside, and then started building proprietary extension to web technology that made it harder for others to enter the space. This was at the heart of the Microsoft anti-trust case. (Remember that?)

Losing a monopoly

And then? They slowed riiiiiiiiight down, let Internet Explorer 6 languish, and it became a (painful) joke amongst the web community, as new browsers rose to challenges the sloth-like incumbent. And then mobile happened, and Microsoft lost relevance.

Despite many efforts to renovate and restore IE’s image, Microsoft is letting it die in favour of the project codenamed Spartan.

For now, at least, we’re in an era of browser multiplicity. We have Chrome, and Firefox, and Safari, all helping define what browsing is. This single, near-monopolistic lock that Microsoft used to have is very long gone, and that’s great for us as consumers – even as it challenges the business that once effective owned the internet experience.

Funnily how similar a complacent tech innovator can look to the kinds of established business today’s startups seek to challenge…