Microsoft Internet Explorer (commonly known as IE) was first released in
and became the dominant bowser by 2004
with around a 95%
worldwide. This was partly because Microsoft leveraged its
in operating systems - particularly the Windows operating
system - to put IE into the hands of hundreds of millions of users; and partly
because early versions of IE tended to support emerging Internet
better than Netscape Navigator did at the time.
A very buggy IE 1.0 was released in August 1995 and was quickly followed
by IE 2.0 in November 1995. This was succeeded by IE 3.0 (August 1996), IE
4.0 (September 1997), IE 5.0 (March 1999) and IE 6.0 (September 2001).
By this time the destruction of arch-rival Netscape Navigator was
almost complete, and after this Microsoft didn't release IE 7.0 until February
2005. A new IE 8.0 was planned for release in the first half of 2008 but
as of August 2008 it's still in beta; late; and buggy.
IE 6.0 works on all versions of Windows from Windows95 onwards, but IE 7.0
only works on Windows XP SP2 and later (including Windows Server 2003 SP1
and Windows Vista). For this reason, IE 6.0 still has a much larger market
share than IE 7.0 and this seems set to remain the case for some time
The major drawbacks of IE are that it has very poor security and (in
comparison to Firefox) inferior support for contemporary web standards
(the browser uses Microsoft's own proprietary extensions for many of these
In addition, Microsoft also has the annoying habit of moving menu
options and functionality about from one version to the next, often
necessitating the additional cost of retraining courses in large
organisations. Quite a lot of the spyware, adware and
viruses that can infect machines accessing the Net are made possible
by exploitable bugs and flaws in Internet Explorer's security architecture
(some require nothing more than viewing a malicious web page in IE in order
to install themselves).
In our own office we had one of our machines infected with some very malicious
malware when we accidentally surfed an innocuous-looking web page using
IE, despite having a variety of sophisticated anti-virus and anti-adware
software running at the time.
Although we were able to revive the machine by spending several days
removing the worst of the infection, it's never run the same since and will
need a complete reformat and reinstall to get it back to factory condition.
We think that's a pretty high price to pay for using a buggy, insecure web
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