Microsoft announced a few days ago that it is effectively discontinuing it’s well-known - and often-maligned - Internet Explorer browser.
It’s taken the company long enough to distance itself from the browser with a reputation for being slow, buggy, and outdated. Good riddance!
But, as the linked article suggests, it’s worth reflecting on Internet Explorer’s interesting place in computing history. It was the browser that annihilated Netscape to become the de facto industry-standard browser that, at the turn of the millennium, 95% (!) of the world used to access the internet. It was the product that triggered an anti-trust (unfair competition) lawsuit that nearly crippled Microsoft. For many years the NHS in the UK required any software sold to them, to be run on hundreds of thousands of their PCs, to be able to run on a specific version (6) of Internet Explorer - and this policy is possibly still in place! And ironically, the product that triggered Internet Explorer's decline - Firefox - was created by the Mozilla Foundation, an organisation created from the ruins of Netscape.
All of which reminds me of this bit of amusement!
So the very success of Microsoft in dominating the browser market in effect locked some of its biggest customers into an increasingly dysfunctional and insecure time warp. But Microsoft’s monopolistic grip on the PC operating system and office software market also rendered it blind to what was happening in the computing industry generally. Just as it missed the internet when it first appeared, Microsoft also missed the switch to cloud computing and mobile devices.