Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little).

Let’s see if you can guess which three browsers currently have more market share than Microsoft Edge. The first is Chrome (of course), the second is Firefox (of course), but the third is Internet Explorer. How? IE? Yes, IE. A browser that was included by obligation in Windows 10 and that is still much more used than we would think.

According to NetApplications and its NetMarketShare, IE’s market share is no less than 9.52%, very close to Firefox’s 9.63%. Edge is barely halfway there, at 4.49%, but the new Chromium-based version may finally be able to do that let’s forget (a little) about the old Internet Explorer. That is one of the goals of this new development from Microsoft.

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

Trying to kill IE

In 2016 Wired published an article of those that we like to the media. Of those that predict the death and disappearance of this or that product or technology. The defenestrated in this case was none other than Internet Explorer, which they said “would soon be a thing of the past.”

But nothing of the past. Internet Explorer is still alive and well, and is in fact Microsoft’s most widely used browser. Long. Double market share to Microsoft Edge (9.52% vs 4.49% according to NetApplications), although the thing is not so striking if we only count the version present in Windows 10, Internet Explorer 11 (7.70% vs 4.49%).

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

The data is amazing. Is Internet Explorer Really That Good? Or is Edge too bad?

Not even Edge is too bad …

Probably neither of the two is (entirely) true. When Microsoft introduced Project Spartan before the release of Windows 10 did it with important innovations in its spartan design (of course), its integration of Cortana or its theoretical support (at last) of extensions.

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

When Windows 10 was released and Project Spartan became Microsoft Edge, things promised, but it soon became clear that that couldn’t compete with Chrome and Firefox in benefits and, above all, in extensions.

Microsoft’s intentions were good and they tried to compete with the great rivals in topics such as the theoretical battery saving it offered or its performance and memory management.

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

That was fine, but not the essential: people wanted extensions, and Microsoft offered them but with a dropper. Despite having curious options such as its advanced support for PDF or Windows Ink technology for annotations – fantastic for those who use stylus – Microsoft found that after almost 4 years on the market its browser still did not meet its objectives.

… not even Internet Explorer is (far from) that good

What one does not quite explain a priori is that Internet Explorer is where it is. Having Chrome, Firefox and equally valid options such as those offered by Edge itself, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi and other minority web browsers, Why use Internet Explorer?

Those days are long gone when Internet Explorer ruled the world and Microsoft was the queen of browsers. Her dictated web design standards and guidelines ruthlessly, and those banners with the message “Best viewed on Internet Explorer” were the norm in an almost forgotten age.

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

Not only that: it ended up being a time that spawned a visceral hatred of cursed versions like Internet Explorer 6, for which campaigns such as IE6 Must Die emerged that demonstrated time and again that this version that came with Windows XP was not only a horror in performance and support of modern standards years later, but an open door for malware.

That browser officially died in 2014 as a side effect of the end of Windows XP support, but it didn’t really do so at all: still has a very small but surprising quota, 0.19% in the latest NetApplications study, more than Chromium or Vivaldi. What despair.

So how can IE be where it is? The reason is simple: many companies continue to depend on it. Microsoft itself has been evangelizing users for years: “It’s not a browser, it’s a compatibility solution,” said a senior Microsoft architect in February, and his comment couldn’t be more accurate.

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

That’s what Internet Explorer is today: a tool to keep business applications and services designed for this browser (or its previous versions) working. It’s Microsoft’s curse, that when creating its own standards that ended up virtually dying, it has had to offer alternatives like this so that those who depend on them do not have a really notable problem.

Edge winks at IE to make us forget it

That’s where this new Chromium-based Edge comes in, a total revolution that has been received in very different ways. In Mozilla they regretted the decision and stressed that it was a real shame that Microsoft’s own technology in browsers – with EdgeHTML at the top – ended up disappearing. With this “Microsoft cedes even more control of our online life to Google,” said Chris Beard, one of the top managers of Firefox. Independent web developers agreed in long explosions and alluded to the fact that the web is increasingly “Google’s web.”

For Microsoft, however, the step seems right and so they declared in their announcement of the decision. With this jump you will be able to offer a browser that will have little to envy Chrome overall and in which, in addition, the Redmond company will contribute its own personality by eliminating various options from Chrome -the ones most linked to Google services, of course- and will add ingredients that want to be differential.

Among them, we highlighted yesterday during the BUILD 2019 conference, there will be the inclusion of an “IE Mode” that will allow those who need to open tabs in IE compatibility mode. Microsoft itself indicated in the official announcement that this is a “business customer” feature and added that it was designed “for your internal sites without compromising the modern web experience on the public internet.”

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)

There you have it: this is the ultimate demonstration that the support of old services is a condemnation for Microsoft, which cannot convince companies to update their services – if it works, don’t touch it? – and ends up putting plasters on their development to keep it working for everyone.

In fact, in that announcement they explained how “we have heard from our customers how most companies depend on a multi-browser solution today, and both our customers and our partners tell us that this experience is disjointed and confusing.” By merging both browsers into one at last will make Internet Explorer stop having its own identity to become a mode of Microsoft Edge.

We will see if that is enough for let’s forget (a little) to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft Edge and the battle to make Internet Explorer forget (a little)