back to article Dear departed Internet Explorer, how I will miss you ... NOT

Rumours reaching Dabbsy Towers that Microsoft might be finally letting Internet Explorer die gave me absolutely no joy or cause for celebration. Hahahahahahahaha. It has been said in places that, having been the world’s favourite web browser straddling the Millennium years, Internet Explorer defined the emerging Internet age …

  1. returnmyjedi

    I thought Spartan was a continuation of Redmond's latest bit of frivolity in naming development projects after elements of the Halo universe, following on from Threshold (Win 10) and Cortana (who was lucky to keep her name, rather than Microsoft's usual desire to rename with something far more clunky).

  2. Chris Miller

    He looks forward to a day when he needs only one web browser but that rather depends on both the browser and all websites throughout the world making an effort to adhere to web standards.

    Which ones? Computer people love standards - that's why we have so many of them.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Got that right. Seen the requirements for being a website "front end developer" these days? (what used to be called a "Webmaster"?)

      WTF is all that shit? Can no one even remember how good old HTML works and that you use the fancy stuff sparingly? What browser will ever be able to keep up with the total, utter, shit that is webpage mark-up these days?

      The answer: none.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Bob Vistakin

      Fortunately the move to a microsoft free world is gathering real momentum. S Korea, for example, as well as the boycott such stupidity as this Windows 10 move will bring

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How I loved the....

    1. Robin

      Re: PSP

      ... the UI?

      ... the "250 of 30 days remaining" trial period?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PSP

        "the "250 of 30 days remaining" trial period?"

        I completely forgot about that bit!! Ha. Thanks for that extra memory.

        Oh yeah, I typo'd - it should have been "How I loved thee..."

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: PSP

          I can always tell how long I've been in my current job, as PSP gets installed on day 1...

          "You are on day 573 of your 30 day evaluation period"

  4. Fihart

    "I'm on the internet....."

    Good piece but really of most value to those who will never read it.

    Like the colleague who somehow couldn't grasp that Word was not Windows and referred to both as Microsoft. The friend who couldn't understand e-mail -- "no I don't use it much because the I can't afford the long distance calls".

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: "I'm on the internet....."

      Good piece but really of most value to those who will never read it.

      When I publish my book, I'll print that on the dust jacket.

  5. JonW
    Thumb Up

    Ahh, the old days...

    Good trip down nostalgia alley there, but needs to tip the hat to Trumpet Winsock, as the MS implementation was (if it's possible) worse than the associated version of IE. Best {however much it was} I ever spent.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. David Given

        Re: Ahh, the old days...

        From Peter Tattam's rather elderly and not-very-updated blog:


        I continue to develop new and innovative software and have completed several new projects since leaving Trumpet. Among these are a completely new TCP/IP stack and various other software utilities such as compilers, LALR compiler generator tools and PC emulator software. I have a passionate interest in writing operating systems and development tools.


        Looking at, he seems to have a DOS IPv6 TCP/IP driver, a partially win32-compatible operating system, and an OS written entirely in Pascal...

        I also found this site, which someone (not him) set up to allow you to donate money to the author...

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Ahh, the old days...

          IPv6 for DOS? An OS written in Pascal?

          That's not just software, that's performance art!

          1. ammabamma

            Performance art code

            How about installing TCP/IP on an old Macintosh SE/30 with System 6?


            1. LeeS

              Re: Performance art code

              OS9 - the last Apple OS - that wasn't Next- or Linux - or shit. Even on old hardware it was good, but when it broke!!! You just replaced the system file and finder and it was fixed again WOOHOO!!!

    2. JeffyPoooh

      Re: Ahh, the old days...

      "...get on the web in the 1990s."

      Noobs. All we had was a NAND gate made from twigs, and two delay lines made from old thermometers.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Ahh, the old days...

        All we had was a NAND gate made from twigs, and two delay lines made from old thermometers.

        Thermometers? Luxury! When I were a lad, I had to stick the mercury up my nose and implement delays by opening and closing my sinuses.

        Fortunately, it had no ill-effect on me whatsoever. None.

        ...buggrit, millennium hand and shrimp, I told em, I TOLD em....

      2. launcap Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Ahh, the old days...

        > All we had was a NAND gate made from twigs, and two delay lines made from old thermometers.

        Or in my case - a shiny *new* 12/75 non-autodial modem. And my parents phone line :-) And the eternal optimism of a 13-year old..

        And a selection of fidonet BBS systems that I could get to without incurring huge phone bills. Using my BBC Model B..

        Ahh.. The old days were the oldest!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. itzman

      "what the world needs is a new and decent rendering engine."

      Amen to that...

      1. P. Lee

        Re: "what the world needs is a new and decent rendering engine."


        I've never heard anyone at the office complain about Konqueror's or Firefox's rendering engine.

        Mostly its the shell around it which gets the complaints. That can usually be fixed with a quick trip to the "customise" option to restore the menu bar.

        Far more useful would be the ability for the OS to impose per-process subtree (rather than per user or per IP) network and disk restrictions. Then when there is an application breach, the whole system isn't compromised.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. JeffyPoooh

        Re: "what the world needs is a new and decent rendering engine."

        How about a rendering engine that confines itself to putting pixels on the screen, and doesn't try to execute every single element that arrives in the buffer?

      3. Sloppy Crapmonster

        Re: "what the world needs is a new and decent rendering engine."

        what the world needs now is another rendering engine

        like I need a hole in my head

        --w/apologies to David Lowery

    2. hitmouse

      What many forget unless they were from other parts of the globe, is that IE was the first international browser supporting non-European character sets etc. Netscape took too long to realise that it had forgotten to support the first two Ws in WWW and so even when AOL bought Netscape, the AOL browser had to be built on IE technology to support international customers.

      It's not a lesson well learned. Other browsers are still full of code that assume WWW=USA.

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: non European character sets

        ISIS must be bricking it without IE.

      2. Bleu


        provided decent support for other character sets.

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        You're rewriting history a bit and forgetting that the OS support for international character sets was lamentable on Windows (no Unicode fonts for a start). If you had Windows 95 or NT you had to bolt on an IME for proper east-asian support and fonts and of course MS were first out the gate with IE to support their own fix. Nevertheless if you found your own font elsewhere Communicator could support it, witness the mile-long character set menu.

        If you had Windows 3.1 it was an exercise in futility, as was most things.

        Oddly enough in Japan where Macs were common because they had good built-in support for international languages none of this was a problem and Communicator was also popular.

        I thought everyone downloaded it for free from the FTP site and clicked through the EULA, there was certainly nothing to stop you if you weren't an educational user (which in those days I was).

    3. Stevie


      Netscape Navigator cost $40 whatever you wanted to use it for when I first became aware of it. It was Big News when it finally became free (in order to win back market share from IE which was killing it).

    4. Havin_it
  7. ShortLegs

    Christ, the agony of trying to get online in the days of Win3.1 and AmigaDOS... Internet Chameleon for the former, Miami for the later. Configuring SLIP connections, and waiting for PPP to appear. Dialup was bad, but ISDN could be worse at times, especially when multi-link PPP configurations were unique to each ISP or destination company ingress point. Though, then having a 128kb connection the Internet was fast ;)

    Loved Netscape, but when they released Communicator I switched to IE out of frustration.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Luxury. We had KA9Q held together with a bunch of scripts for our internet connection on Windows and Amiga and we were thankful for it.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "Spry Mosaic, crudely rebranded and very clumsily installed by CompuServe"

    I feel your pain.

  9. Electron Shepherd

    In a wonderful piece of irony...

    There's one validation failure on the page - in the boxout where the author says he "looks forward to a day when... ...all websites throughout the world making an effort to adhere to web standards"

    See the Markup Validation Service page

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: In a wonderful piece of irony...

      Apparently the alignment of my mugshot is obsolete. It's the story of my life.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Adam 1

      Re: In a wonderful piece of irony...

      Maybe this could be fixed with a site redesign?


      1. Martin Budden Silver badge

        Re: In a wonderful piece of irony...

        No site redesign could fix that mug!

        Sorry Dabbsy, couldn't resist the cheap (mug)shot.

  10. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad


    That was one mighty rant. Or it might serve as a stylish tombstone for that notorious old bugger IE4. Like a ten-foot statue for a deceased mob boss.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow.

      Or that dreadded "ActiveDesktop" that IE4 foisted upon us.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Wow.

        You bastard!

        I'd forgotten all about Active Desktop until now.


      2. ammabamma

        Fun with ActiveDesktop

        My co-workers and I took that "take a screen shot of the desktop and hide the icons" prank to a new level with ActiveDesktop and a spot of Javascript and DHTML.

        Just try clicking on your desktop "icons" when they flee from your mouse!

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fun with ActiveDesktop

          Just try clicking on your desktop "icons" when they flee from your mouse!

          Ohhh you are EVIL!

          I like it!

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Fun with ActiveDesktop

            Evil desktop pranks...

            Years ago, I wrote a simple Winforms applet that created between 4 and 20, 1x1 pixel borderless windows with backgrounds either #FF00FF, #FFFFFF or #00FFFF, and scattered them at random over the desktop.

            Looked exactly like dead LCD pixels. Particularly fun when run on a colleague's brand new super-large, super-expensive monitor.

            The CRT equivalent, of course, was to create a 3x2 pixel bitmap in MS-Paint, and colour every pixel the default desktop tint except for the top-right one, which would be set to magenta #FF00FF. Save it as the stretched desktop wallpaper, and Windows would do a beautiful job of scaling and smoothing it up to desktop size - et voila, huge and nasty CRT/phosphor magnet artifact in the top-right corner. Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

        2. Havin_it

          Re: Fun with ActiveDesktop

          I'll give you an upvote if you can demonstrate that "DHTML" is anything other than Javascript. I bet that was a Microsoft buzzword too somehow.

          (Don't get me wrong, I remember using it myself in those days, but some of us just don't look in the mirror any more...)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fun with ActiveDesktop

            DHTML = HTML DOM + JavaScript.

            JavaScript on its own was barely capable of feats like mouse roll-over effects and annoying marquees in the status bar and title bar. There was also document.write().

            DOM changed a lot of that, where you could control "layers" by JavaScript. Of course every browser had its own API back then so it was a cross-platform nightmare.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    a heavyweight, lard-arsed, fat bastard of a program for searching Bing

    Thank you for that, I'll be keeping it for reserving at appropriate times :).

  12. Adam 1

    Not quite my memory. Hard to believe but there was a time in the early days when ie was a more competent browser than Netscape. They then turned to dodgy tactics and then sat on their laurels until they were well and truly surpassed.

    Tbh, I hope Spartan works out for them. I would rather we had another choice of browser out there rather than yet another rebadged WebKit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      True, no risk of a re-badged WebKit though. WebKit is open source software, originated from the open source community, in stark contrast to the origins of both the Gecko rendering engine in Mozilla or the Trident engine in IE.

      I really doubt Microsoft would put their crown jewels in an open source project like that. The NIH roots run too deep in that organisation.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Adam 1

        > I really doubt Microsoft would put their crown jewels in an open source project like that.

        You're probably right. It's not like they've open sourced the .net runtime and hosted it in github.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Errm yes, big difference between releasing their code as open source, and basing one of your strategic projects on open source code.

          .NET for sure is now open source. Microsoft is free to pick and choose what contributions it rolls into its commercial distribution of .NET, and is free to license the code it owns in .NET (pretty much all of it right now) under any license it wishes in addition to the open-source ones.

          It'll likely be business as usual, just now you get to see some of the innards.

          IE being based on WebKit would be akin to Ford outsourcing the design and build of their engine to Honda.

          1. Adam 1

            >basing one of your strategic projects on open source code

            I see. You mean something more like basing your own TCP IP stack on BSD.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I see. You mean something more like basing your own TCP IP stack on BSD.

              The users don't see the TCP/IP stack, they do not directly interact with it. They DO, directly interact with the web browser. It's that "blue E", or "Google" (as one former employer of mine called it; he ran IE6) or "Facebook" (what some people call it)…

              TCP/IP underpins it all, but it's all but invisible.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is the end of browser madness. THIS. IS. SPARTAAAAAAAAN!

  14. Steve 114

    Bing thing?

    If the IE replacement is even more deeply integrated, will I ever be able to search my hard drive from Windows 10 without triggering 'Bing'?

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Bing thing?

      (Put it in your hosts)

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Bing thing?

        Wouldn't that summon the evils of bing and deliver them into the heart of your machine?

        < insert demonic laughter >

        1. Havin_it

          Re: Bing thing?

          Not at all, because it's already there. Windows from 7 onwards contains a full copy of Bing's database, to make it seem super fast and save MS the server bills.

          It's OK though, 4GB RAM and 120GB disk is still plenty to cover it.

  15. chivo243 Silver badge

    surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

    Fooling sheeple is easy, especially when you bundle your crap all together. Most sheeple didn't know they had a choice.

    I still have the last version of Navigator, and engineer from one of our vendors installed it because the gui of their product wouldn't play nice with any other browser. Funny thing is, it crashes with the default home page if you click anything on that page!

    Good bye Internet Destroyer, or Internet Exploder <fill in your favorite derogatory name for IE here> I don't think the internet can get the toilet paper off its shoes fast enough.

    1. Cliff

      Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

      Lost me at 'sheeple', I'll never know if you had a brilliant point to make.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

        Gotta better term for the uninformed, uneducated users who could care less? I'm willing to add it to my vocabulary. Glad you read my post.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

          "Users" will do nicely. Everyone knows what you mean.

          It has all the connotations of incompetence you require, without the childish nastiness.

          "Sheeple" is a word used by arseholes and conspiracy nuts.

          Also, non-IT people don't care about computers. They just want them to work. Technology is just the name we give stuff that doesn't work properly yet...

          1. chivo243 Silver badge

            Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

            Actually, I do know "users". I support some really great people who listen to my advice and give feedback (useful or not) to enable me to help them further. On the other hand, I also support users who don't listen, don't care for the support provided and don't give two shits to a flying fuck about solving their IT issue.

            So, sheeple was the wrong word, but this is El Reg forums, I thought a bit of humor was appreciated.

            My mistake. Let's all have a pint eh?

          2. DiViDeD

            Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

            "Technology is just the name we give stuff that doesn't work properly yet..."

            That's going on a T shirt right now!

        2. Robin

          Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

          > Gotta better term for the uninformed, uneducated users who could care less?

          Personally, I couldn't care less.

      2. James O'Shea

        Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

        "Lost me at 'sheeple',"

        You didn't miss much

        "I'll never know if you had a brilliant point to make."

        He didn't.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

      Wow, didn't mean to start a shit storm. I wasn't looking to offend anyone. I thought we were all having a bit of a laugh at the trials and tribulations of IE. After all, this is an article by Mr. Dabbs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

        Don't take it too personal. There are many posters and readers here that really like the (semi) civilized tone of this board, particularly in contrast to some other boards.

        So when someone goes even a little beyond the bounds of propriety and good taste, well, there tends to be a dogpile. In this way El Reg is self-correcting, and the staffers don't get overworked and cross.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

        " Wow, didn't mean to start a shit storm. I wasn't looking to offend anyone."

        By using the "word" 'sheeple' you instantly made everyone reading your post think of commentard Matt Bryant.

        It could only go downhill from there...

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

          By using the "word" 'sheeple' you instantly made everyone reading your post think of commentard Matt Bryant.

          Indeed. Torpedoes any valid point that you might make, unfortunately.

          Apropos of nothing, and not having a go at the original poster - who actually did have a valid point - other red-flag words that immediately make me dismiss whatever an author is trying to say include...

          - 'Windoze' (c.f. also 'Winblows', and variants)

          - 'M$' ('Microsucks', 'Mickeysoft', etc. etc)

          - 'Fanboi'

          - Basic inability to spell or use punctuation, talking like a concussed valley girl

          omg windoze is teh suck i h8 all you loosers

          Seriously, don't make yourself sound like an 11-year-old.

          Anyone care to suggest others?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

            Teabaggers? Rethuglicans? Libtard? Climate Denier? I could go on and on...

            About "sheeple," I will own to having uttered the word in a verbal rant or two, but putting it in print is a bit much.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

      There's a reason:

      It was bundled with the OS and labelled "The Internet" on desktops.

      Without using any perjoratives, users simply assumed that WWW==Internet and IE==WWW

      You'd be surprised at the number of calls that ISPs got complaining about "The Internet not working" where it would turn out that not only did the users not have an account, they didn't even have modems.

      1. GrumpyMiddleAgedGuy

        Re: surely there was a reason that IE became so popular?

        IE became dominant because it was the best browser at the time. Netscape was awful. It was so awful that MS sat on their backsides for 15 years and really didn't worry until Chrome came along. Chrome is far superior browser, and suddenly all those people who chose IE because they were "stupid" and didn't know any better decided to switch to Chrome. (A bit of a simplification but essentially true)

  16. Tezfair
    Thumb Up

    Ahh CL

    The only IT mag I ever purchased religiously.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Ahh CL

      I'm pleased that Computer Life is fondly remembered. I did several freelance stints on the UK edition, starting as production editor, then CD editor and CompuServe sysop for CLIFEUK. There was no such role as a web editor in those days, although someone later pointed out to me that Britain's "first ever magazine website" (Futurenet) only got going some months after I artlessly coded my handful of CL pages.

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Ahh CL

      The only IT mag I ever purchased religiously.

      I used to buy Amiga Format religiously, until I got thrown out of WH Smiths. Some guff about how the chanting, incense and robes were freaking out the other customers. I told them it was my liturgical book and I needed it, but my missal defence tactic failed.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Ahh CL

          Good times. And Crash for the Spectrum. Get off my lawn, you kids.

          I still, somewhere, have my copy of the infamous "Type some shit in here please" Amiga Format issue.

          (TL;DR: sub-editor failed to spot that placeholder text (large, bold, and prominent on page #1) over an article describing software on the cover disk. What made it worse was that the software in question was a simple paint package for kiddies. A grovelling apology followed in the next month's issue.)

          1. Alistair Dabbs

            Re: Ahh CL

            the infamous "Type some shit in here please" Amiga Format issue

            Thank you x100 for the link to the page scan. I use this exact anecdote regularly in my training courses with respect to the use of 'dummy' text. I'm a strong believer that the reason why Adobe InDesign uses faux Latin for its dummy text (as opposed to 'lazy brown fox' or indeed 'type some shit in here' etc) is that it will always get flagged up during a spell check. Now I have a copy of the original page to show everyone too. Thanks again.

            1. John H Woods Silver badge

              Re: Ahh CL

              "... that the reason why Adobe InDesign uses faux Latin for its dummy text ..." -- Alastair Dabbs

              If you mean lorem ipsum, that's been used as a typographical placeholder for a long time --- fifty years at least.

              1. Alistair Dabbs

                Re: Ahh CL

                InDesign doesn't do 'lorem ipsum' precisely but it's another part-randomised, mashed-up Cicero variant, I think. PageMaker used 'lorem ipsum' and I believe WordPress used to (still does?) when you preview themes. Which makes me wonder... do the Vatican newspaper subs have a spellchecker?

              2. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Ahh CL

                Whackypedia has a page on Lorum Ipsum (as opposed to a page in Lorum Ipsum) and claims that the typography world has been using it since the 1500s.

                1. Adam 1

                  Re: Ahh CL

                  A (former) colleague was debugging some code and was caught out by a compiler bug which caused the debug symbols to not load unless you changed the source file. This meant that every time he tried to replicate the problem, the IDE would just jump straight through his breakpoint.

                  After much fist shaking, he figured out what was wrong and added a "suitably expressive pop-up window". The compiler then happily stopped on the breakpoint and the bug was quickly found and fixed. Just as quickly, the pop-up was forgotten and somehow was missed by testing. The MD found it with suitable displeasure announced to my then colleague.

            2. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: Ahh CL

              Thank you x100 for the link to the page scan.

              Heh, you're welcome, glad it was useful. TBH that isn't necessarily the best image of the AF blooper out there, but it was the first decent link google returned. As you and others below have mentioned, good ol' Lorem Ipsum is always the safest bet. That, and ELEMENTARY PROOF-READING BEFORE GOING TO PRESS, but it seems that's a dying art!

              So, wandering even further down this off-topic path... if you're going to print placeholder text, why not put it on a lamp-post for the whole world to see?


              Mind you, it could be even worse - you could put a rude word in print AND insult a paying customer at the same time:


              (sorry for link to Cheezburger - again, I blame google image search. Don't get distracted by teh kitties OH MY GOD IT'S TOO LATE my precious IQ is leavingggg meeee wow such meme, very fail)

  17. keithpeter Silver badge


    For those who wish to sample the mid-90s Web as part of some strange retro compulsion, try installing the Netsurf browser in a live Linux session, and make sure that Javascript is switched off in preferences... It is *quick* mind you.

    "...including worthier projects such as Opera and Mozilla’s flying open sourcers."

    Flying open sourcers: nice phrase that, I shall steal it.

    1. Chika

      Re: NetSurf

      Ooo NetSurf! Mostly forgotten about that when I stopped using my Risc PCs to access the Internet some years ago. Mind you, back then I had no option on the Javascript side of things - they must have added that since then.

      I missed out on much of that stuff back then anyway as I tended to use Acorn's Browse (or Phoenix for a little while) or Oregano. It was interesting (and sometimes annoying) to watch how things went on the web as Microsoft and Netscape slugged it out!

  18. Davie Dee

    amusing read, but I do think you've been overly critical of IE in more recent years, IE was a turd to start with we will all agree, and it became a polished turd up to IE6 at which point your correct that anyone with any sense dropped it like a rock bar those that were forced in to using it

    but since IE8 you have to agree its got notably better, I dropped Firefox in favour for IE8/9 because like the others it became bloated and generally speaking utterly shite. IE10/11 however has been a gem to use, I ditched Chrome and all the crap that comes with it in favour of a very sleek and pretty damn quick IE and ive not looked back since, I occasionally dip my toes in the chrome water but never really warmed back to it.

    The metro IE was a bit of a misadventure but if we keep the focus on proper IE11, its hard to fault it any more than any of the other browsers out there.

    I'm interested in Spartan purely to see how its going to get better, ditching a lot of the legacy crap will help greatly but will it make day to day usage "better" time will tell.

    1. Chika

      I'm not totally in agreement that IE11 was any good. IE10 had some points to it but in more than one place I have seen IE11 deployed only to see it have to go back to IE10 as it broke too much, especially when it came to portals and the like.

      You could always argue that the blame there lies with the portals and the like but if it works with IE10, IE9, IE8, Firefox, Chrome, Midori, Opera, Safari, Konqueror, NetSurf or whatever, then you need to consider where the line needs to be drawn when apportioning the blame. It always seemed to me that each successive IE release broke something else, then sites had to adapt to allow for it when they finally ran out of patience waiting for Microsoft to fix their blunders. If Microsoft are now saying that the code has become too unwieldy to fix every time they try to integrate a new feature that nobody asked for or change it to allow for a new standard that just came in, I suppose that you can't blame them too much.

      Of course there are some abominations out there posing as web sites that will kill a browser on contact or at least confuse the excrement out of it.

  19. SecretSonOfHG

    We at least we had just one MS standard browser

    Now we're going to have two, because MS is going to keep fixing IE until the next decade or so and at the same time, no matter how good Spartan is, they'll have to also fix whatever issues appear on it.

    Spartan has to be a very, very good experience or it will not be worth the added patching.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: We at least we had just one MS standard browser

      " We at least we had just one MS standard browser"

      Hmmmm. MSIE 6, MSIE 8,9, 10 ...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A point has been missed...

    Back in the day, the vast majority of people were clueless about the internet and browsers.

    IE served one function which it did very, very well.


    Joe Bloggs who doesn't know how to use the web could at least rest assured that no matter which PC he was on, be it work, home or an internet cafe - that it would be IE (more than likely) he was using.

    This was great for confidence and helped people develop their skills and understanding. Having choice is not always a good thing, especially on the internet where it can get just so goddamn geeky. That choice with meaningless jargon scared and still doea scare a lot of people.

    I used IE through my formative years at college, mates houses, etc. It was the launchboard for me into the web and it served me well. I have moved on to other browsers, but just like that first girlfriend, I learned a lot from IE, caught some diseases and saw things I never thought possible.

    No regrets.

    1. Bleu

      Re: A point has been missed...

      The article is ill-informed enough, but you are taking that to another level.

      The Microsoft strategy, once they noticed the www, was to break standards. Sure, that stopped, but it took a lot of time.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Cal

        Re: A point has been missed...

        No, that's not what I meant by standardisation.

        I meant that most people, not very skilled or understanding of the internet, could generally rely on sitting at any PC and having a very familiar IE in front of them.

        That was a good thing, regardless of the flaws in IE.

        That's what I meant by standardisation.

        Imagine an average user not really skilled or versed in the internet back in the 90's sitting down to a different browser every time. That'd be damaging for confidence, for learning and for the ears of whoever had to answer the questions of "How do I..."

    2. Mark 85

      Re: A point has been missed...

      You blew it right here: Back in the day, the vast majority of people were clueless about the internet and browsers.

      From where I sit, they still are clueless. If not, FB, Google et al, would not be in the positions they're in. IE wouldn't be either. The jury is still out on Chrome just do to the Google Slurp.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: A point has been missed...

        Got that right, Mark 85 and so are most of the "developers" these days.

  21. wolfetone Silver badge

    IE Not So Bad, Safari? Chrome? Worse.

    When I first got in to web development IE7 had just been released, and I used to shout blue murder when transparent PNG's, styling issues would occur in IE6. The only way to fix them was to have a separate stylesheet for IE6, and IE7 would render the page nicely enough without too much of a difference between that and Firefox.

    Fast forward to today, we have IE10 and IE11. They have come on by such leaps and bounds that I can design and code something inside Firefox and know it will just work in those versions of IE, even IE9.

    However, you can't say the same with Safari and Chrome. Chrome is the worst offender, a lot of the time styling needs to be amended to suit Chrome but is fine on everything else. Further to this, in an update to Chrome it broke part of a clients website that used a slideshow built with Javascript. Works perfectly on every other browser - just not Chrome. And Safari, well it's as slow as pig shite to be quite honest.

    IE, as crap as it was, isn't as crap now as it was then. Chrome has overtaken it, and if you were to ask any normal thinking web developer about the browsers they have the most issue with, IE9 and up will not be at the top of the list. Chrome and Safari will be.

    1. Havin_it

      Re: IE Not So Bad, Safari? Chrome? Worse.

      THANK YOU. I can't believe nobody has mentioned IE7 until now (including Dabbsy).

      I started just a smidgen earlier, when IE6 was the only game in town. For all of the positive that has been said about IE8 and up (with which I don't disagree in and of itself), 6 -> 7 was surely the biggest single leap forward in terms of developer follicles spared.

      It's all relative; many people may have started to gloss over their own memories of just how shit IE6 actually was. It's like the Windows ME syndrome: the survivors make an unspoken pact to quietly airbrush it from memory, to ease their collective pain.

      1. x 7

        Re: IE Not So Bad, Safari? Chrome? Worse.

        Why the comments about WinME? That was the most stable and reliable of all the Win9X variants. By using it on our preloads we cut the cost of support calls immensely

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: IE Not So Bad, Safari? Chrome? Worse.

          WinME? Stable?

          You are trolling, right?

          WinME was renowned at the time for being - to use an immortal phrase from Saint Pterry - about as stable as an upturned pyramid.

          Those with any sense stayed on Windows 98SE.

          Those with sense AND humungous amounts of RAM* moved to Windows 2000 as fast as their CD-burners would carry them.

          *-64MB or thereabouts. Heyyyy, Big Spender!

          1. x 7

            Re: IE Not So Bad, Safari? Chrome? Worse.

            No, not trolling - I'm being serious. I know the perception was that WinME was a problem, but in the main that was due to gamers being upset by the absence of DOS mode and blowing up other issues in an attempt to denigrate the OS.

            At the time I was running the software support team of one of the major UK PC builders, and the advent of WinME resulted in a significant drop in support calls. The drivers were better, you had system restore available, and the software as a whole was much more stable. I know thats not the public perception, but in reality the public perception was wrong. WinME was much better than generally believed.

            I totally agree with you re Win2K though - that was by far the better option

          2. wolfetone Silver badge

            Re: IE Not So Bad, Safari? Chrome? Worse.

            "WinME? Stable?

            You are trolling, right?"

            Must have been my computer but I found Windows ME to be alright. Was fairly reliable - until you went to eject a USB device and then BANG...... BSOD.

            Windows 98 on the other hand, worst Windows I've ever used. It took me 3 1/2 hours to install once. That wasn't fun.

  22. Dr_N

    French O-Level

    Kudos on the French O-Level, Mr Dabbs

    It's the only exam I failed. Spectacularly. With a "U". (Didn't stop me emigrating to France though.)

    Corporate project names are not chosen to reflect the function of the project.

    They are chosen at the whim of the project lead nerds to obfuscate said function.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: French O-Level

      Fortunately French O-level bears about as much resemblance to the French language as ICT does to software engineering.

  23. Philip Storry

    IE 4. Oh gods, no...

    For those of you who weren’t around in 1997, this was the year that Microsoft went mental. IE 4.0 was batshit crazy. It took over all your software, wormed into the file browser, it infested your very PC desktop, and it was Proprietary City. I specifically recall the unforgettable Peter Jackson returning to the office after a Microsoft technical preview of the new browser, telling us that the company had gone mad. His published review of IE 4.0 called it “insane”.

    Oh, it was beyond insane. It was absolutely batshit-nuts-with-sparklers-and-celery-in-its-ears.

    Having turned up late to the party, Microsoft then binged on the heady broth that the internet offered, in order to try and catch up. The result was a drunken mess that could only be matched by giving a house full of medical students a ten thousand pound credit line at Oddbins and instructions to spend it all over the weekend after their finals...

    This was the version of IE that gave us Channels, which were like RSS but designed for media luvvies. I always wondered how much money Disney, CNN and Reed Elsevier must have wasted on creating infrastructure and content for that godawful idea.

    The problem with Channels wasn't just the odd interface and the complete lack of anyone explaining what they were and why you'd want them. It was that they tried to download the content - all of it - so it could be displayed offline. This was a noble goal in the days of dial-up, as phone connections were initially pay-per-minute. But because it went via traditional media companies, they went a bit nuts and filled their channels with big images, so the end result of the developer's good intentions was that every time you dialled up, the first five to ten minutes of your connection time was dog slow as channels updated. The few people that did ever try them quickly abandoned them because of this.

    Microsoft finally killed Channels when they released IE7. Yes, you heard that right - they survived about 9 years of disinterest and neglect.

    But if Channels were a bad idea, nothing matches Active Desktop.

    "Hey guys, I've had a great idea! You know that desktop that users hide by maximising their applications all day every day, so they only ever see it just after starting up and just before shutting down? Let's make that DISPLAY LIVE CONTENT!"

    The idea of Active Desktop was just dumb. But the implementation was terrible. The IE rendering engine was a bit RAM hungry, and was famously buggy - so it basically made your machine slower and less stable, in order to allow you to see content that you won't see anyway because you're doing some actual work.

    It was the perfect blend of weapons-grade-stupidity and pointlessness.

    And, of course, because there had to be consistency between desktop and server, if someone had installed IE 4 on your servers (and if they did, no jury would convict you - so go right ahead) it sucked resources there whenever you logged on to them. And when would you probably log on? When there's a problem to be looked at. When you can't really afford to lose 8-12Mb of RAM to an instance of IE that you didn't want, and would never want.

    And these are just the most visible failures of IE4. Inconsistent rendering across its many service packs, instability, that truly awful "one click instead of double click" option that tried to make Windows Explorer more like a browser but actually just made it useless... Imagine if a release that bad came out now. The net rage would eclipse all previous episodes!

    I'd like to close by apologising to anyone who read this far for the memories I've brought back. If you were affected by the issues raised in this post, then please get yourself to a pub. That'll make it all better. Hopefully.

    1. DJV Silver badge

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      Where I worked we had one guy brick his desktop twice after installing IE4. We banned it throughout the organisation after that. I think we relented after Netscape got completely bloated and IE had reached version 4.5 and was found to be slightly less of a PC-bricking mess.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      Question: Which crashed more often, Active desktop or Winsock?

      The horror, the horror, the horror.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

        We had a dash board app to monitor our servers that somebody under the influence of MSFT decided to do as an active desktop. So all you had to do to check the servers was to iconify every other window and hope no icons obscured any important bits.

        And it used some javascript to refrsh itself every second which caused all your app windows to flicker on and off

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      "... the implementation was terrible. The IE rendering engine was a bit RAM hungry, and was famously buggy ..."

      On the other hand, there were bugs in Windows (specifically COM categories) that could officially only be fixed by installing Active Desktop (because it brought a load of replacement DLLs with it). It was a required feature of our product (which had no internet- or desktop-related features at the time) for several years for this reason.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      Oh yeah, Craptive Desktop. That was the name.

      The single best thing to ever happen to Apple at just the right time.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      All my desktops on desktop, workstation or server are single-click so, in just that one case, IE4's influence was acceptable. But I am known for being bat-shit crazy! Carry on.

      1. Queasy Rider

        Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

        Me too. I hate double clicking, just a waste of a click. Love the right click, saves memorizing stupid non-logical key combos.

    6. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      Let us not forget that at one point (95/98/Me?) if you wanted a jpg as your desktop wallpaper you needed Active Fucking Desktop enabled. It was better to convert them to bmps than suffer AD hogging the memory.

    7. Sarah Balfour

      Re: IE 4. Oh gods, no...

      I apologise for this, but I can't let it slide (no, really, I can't…)

      UNinterested, NOT DISinterested

      Uninterested means you HAVE no interest in something, disinterested means you CAN'T HAVE an interest in something (in other words, you must remain impartial, neutral).

      I always find it very strange that this is the only pair people regularly confuse; I've never heard unengaged/disengaged or unused/disused, for example, confused.

      1. JLV

        >UNinterested, NOT DISinterested

        Errr... both meanings exist.

        And I would pick 'unbiased' for neutrality myself, in a professional text. Not because you're wrong about that, no. But because readers may not be aware of that use, I wasn't.

  24. Zog_but_not_the_first

    "A particularly annoying turd known as “winsock” "

    Ha! I'm with you there. Have a pint on me.

    1. KA1AXY

      Re: "A particularly annoying turd known as “winsock” "

      Only a genius like Billg could release an OS without network connectivity just as the Internet was starting to take off.

      // you had to buy a winsock package from a third the early days

  25. x 7

    short memories here for a lot of you...........

    the real early problems accessing the internet were mainly due to the "walled garden" approach AOL and Compuserve took to access. Not to the browser issues, which in reality were insigniificant

    AOL and Compuserve had their own software and only allowed access to "their" sites. It was only later that Compuserve started bundling browsers (sometimes Netscape, sometimes AOL) enabling access to the whole internet - at the same time allowing the Compuserve winsock to work with ANY application.

    It was only after this change that most home users began to get "real" internet.

    The change to the Compuserve winsock in itself was a major step forward as it meant online databases such as STN International were directly available through a simple dialup: no longer did you have to dial into the nearest data node at premium rates (e.g. BT's Packet Switchstream) using very awkward setup config files

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh how I'll party when IE finally dies.

    I can't really see why MS are bothering with a new browser though. If it's going to be standards compliant as they claim presumably it'll render pages just like Chrome and Firefox and all the technical magic under the hood will work just the same as well. There'll be nothing of any real worth to choose between them.

    I suppose they can see ways of spring boarding from IE to Bing to other paid for services / products even if that is just mind share in the corporate world. I can't help feeling their time would be better spent just developing and marketing the services though.

    I'm probably alone in thinking a browser monoculture (at least in rendering engine terms) isn't a bad thing but I caveat that with "as long as it doesn't completely suck". It means one platform to target, one set of weird bugs to learn and no feature compatibility lists to worry about - a dream come true.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "If it's going to be standards compliant as they claim presumably it'll render pages just like Chrome and Firefox"

      The point is that if you have only one rendering engine in widespread use, the W3C have to make the standard match the engine, rather than the other way around.

      If only Opera had released Presto as open source... (It's probably too late now. The world, and HTML5, has moved on.)

  27. x 7

    and the other thing everyone is that installing IE4 on Win95 was in many cases the only thing that made that program stable and useable, especially in business environments where the networking improvements were a revelation (especially in the way it interfaced with Netware)

    Everyone has fond memories of the usefulness and stability of Win98 - I would say those attributes were -in part - due to the incorporation of IE4 into the OS

    1. king of foo
  28. 404

    Internet Explorer 3.0 Midnight Madness

    I well remember that night - three downloads going because they kept failing, finally got it downloaded and registered by 5am - on a Cyrix 133+ w/16MB ram lol. I might have been 33.6 by then.

    Still have the IE 3.0 MM tshirt from Microsoft - one of 10k ;)

  29. Mikel

    Once upon a time...

    The code boffins from NCSA monetized their inventions by founding a company called Spyglass and licensing the Mosaic code to it. After Bill Gates realized The Road Ahead required he take ownership of the web, Microsoft licensed this code from Spyglass to make IE, spinning a tale of global domination and untold wealth at a cut of the gross.

    The deal done, Microsoft turned on their heel and gave it away, resulting in a gross of $0, and a Spyglass Inc share of that gross of $0.

    Said boffins were quite upset about this Unexpected Financial Injustice Administered and, after suing, jumped ship to Netscape where they spent the remainder of their careers doing battle with IE.,_Inc.

    1. elDog

      Re: Once upon a time...

      More from the Wikipedia article:

      Microsoft subsequently bundled Internet Explorer with Windows, and thus (making no direct revenues on IE) paid only the minimum quarterly fee. In 1997, Spyglass threatened Microsoft with a contractual audit, in response to which Microsoft settled for US$8 million.

      and then:

      On March 26, 2000, OpenTV bought out Spyglass in a stock swap worth $2.5 billion. The acquisition was completed July 24, 2000. In the deal, they received both Device Mosaic, an embedded web browser, and Prism, a content delivery and transformation system.

      Not too bad an outcome.

      1. Mikel

        Re: Once upon a time...

        >Not too bad an outcome

        Doesn't undo that the genesis of IE was hosing the inventors of the browser out of their just reward. Karma, baby.

    2. x 7

      Re: Once upon a time...

      I seem to remember though that there was a dispute over who owned the code with NCSA offering legal challenges to Spyglass.........if I remember correctly the licencing of the code to Spyglass was invalid

  30. cyclical

    I just wish IE would die gracefully

    I seem to remember some point around IE 8(?), Microsoft announcing they would be ceasing development, which never happened, now this (we're going to use OUR OWN interpretation of the standards again because open standards are for people who aren't a monopoly). The nightmare will never end will it? Even when you think it's over it's like the end of a horror movie where the rubber-masked slasher you thought was dead leaps out from behind the sofa and repeatedly stabs some poor web developer in the face. *fade to black*

    1. Mark 85

      Re: I just wish IE would die gracefully

      Er... no. It should die screaming in the night. Then every developer who had to put with that piece of crap needs to be invited to pour a glass of their favorite libation on it's grave... properly filtered through one's kidney's first. A good libation should not just be poured on the ground.

  31. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Oh ... Oh ...

    Active X in a Browser was the single most stupid thing ever that MS did.

    Wonderful Dabsy.

    1. ammabamma

      Re: Oh ... Oh ...



      More rear entries than an all-male stick mag.

  32. DropBear

    Just one more thing...

    Not strictly related to IE - but since Netscape was mentioned: let's not forget Netscape Gold included *gasp* an actual HTML editor! For simpler folks who didn't eat, breathe and sleep bare-metal-HTML-in-a-text-editor at the time (and I don't think there were THAT many of those back then), this was kind of a huge deal, until Dreamweaver & Co. came along to steal the show. That was the heyday of sparkly background stationery, HTML frames, 3D-embossed button menus, animated GIFs and unapologetic Comic Sans - awww dammit now I have to hit the bottle to forget all that all over again as quickly as possible...

    1. Tufty Squirrel

      Re: Just one more thing...

      And the <blink> tag. And <marquee>

      Hanging's too good for 'em.

      1. DiViDeD

        Re: Just one more thing...

        Oh yes! Animated gifs. If you had room for one on a page, you had room forTWENTY!

        And in all the time they were around, I don't think I ever met anyone who had actually animated a gif. They were always stolen from another site or from vast online repositories where they seemed to spontaneously generate like maggots in a tin of blackberries.

        At this point I have to come clean. Yes, I used them. I put it down to peer pressure. I mean, all my friends were doing it and they were so easy to get hold of. And I knew I could stop anytime, but I never actually did.

        And as for that <blink> tag, I never actually saw it work on a single websire, ever.

        1. Alistair Dabbs

          Re: Just one more thing...

          I don't think I ever met anyone who had actually animated a gif

          What, like this one?

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Just one more thing...

            What, like this one? - Alistair Dabbs

            Fun fact: that's not actually a looping GIF, it's a real-time webcam. Showing a normal person's reaction to reading the Reg forums.

        2. Havin_it

          Re: Just one more thing...

          >And as for that <blink> tag, I never actually saw it work on a single websire, ever.

          I'll just leave this here...

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Just one more thing...

            @Havin_it: That is not only madness, it's overengineered madness.

      2. 404

        Re: Just one more thing...

        Is there a statute of limitations for the folks who made Geocities happen?

        Remember that?

    2. Ilgaz

      Re: Just one more thing...

      Its rendering engine code was the best Netscape ever coded so a lot of folks who doesn't need an editor used it too.

  33. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Well done!

    Have a pint, for saying this:

    History proves time and time again that the perfect boss for a successful IT business is not someone with smarts and goodwill but a sociopathic college drop-out with no qualifications and a vicious streak.

  34. FatGerman

    It was crap but...

    ... even though it didn't follow standards I can't hold that against it too much. The standards don't really help because they're open to interpretation. You can have a complex page that passes all the validation and it can still look different in Chrome/Firefox/Opera/IE/whatever-the-feck because some coder somewhere has made a slightly different decisions than some coder somewhere else. What we need, in fact, is ONE browser to RULE THEM ALL. I don't care which one it is. I just want to be able to write a web page and know it'll work for everybody who uses it without having to first test and tweak it in 18 bloody browsers.

    1. cyclical

      Re: It was crap but...

      The problem is that some versions of IE varied SO much from the standard. Basic stuff like IE not interpreting the box model properly (standard created in 1996, Microsoft only partially implemented the correct behaviour in 2001). This required very, very serious CSS-invalidating hacks to fix. And I won't even get started on such CSS horrors as 'progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha(Opacity=50)' or horrendous omissions that prevented people from broadly using alpha channeled PNG for over 8 years (supported Mozilla 2000, IE not until 2008).

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: It was crap but...

        In the eBook publishing industry, we have to put up with this all the time. We have perfectly acceptable EPUB standards but when will we ever see an eBook reader that respects them properly or a creative package that supports them correctly?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It was crap but...

          Have you ever considered the notion that this is, in all actuality, designed into the format? A cross-eBook rendered format would also easy conversion between the formats which is something that is most definitely unwanted behavior. It kills any DRM.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It was crap but...

        > "Basic stuff like IE not interpreting the box model properly..."

        And ironically we now use 'box-sizing' to recreate that very box model. So basically the default box-sizing value is now largely ignored except in the rare case where it's nice to enable it for an element. Pretty much ends THAT debate!

        Not that I'm defending MS; I once made my living by mastering all the arcane spells needed for IE compatibility. Still, it is a kind of vindication in this one case.

  35. Captain Hogwash

    For me, Spartan evokes...

    memories of a box of chocolates with hard centres available for a while in the seventies. I liked them but I don't think they were a commercial success.

  36. regadpellagru

    IE won't die

    Am I the only one to have 0 trust in MS to ditch IE ?

    Spartan is just a different name aimed at having user-agent not match IE, that's all.

    Code base will still be IE. After all, IE 6 to 11 share most of their code, as seen in every patch, every f***ing week, so how will Remdond re-write a full web browser ? Only the UI has changed ...

    Funny to see MS being entangled into their own mess (messing up with internet standards for decades) to the point they need another name to dodge the usual user-agent conditionnal code in web sites.

    But, yes, we'll see patches for IE 6 to 12 + spartan in all W10 patching sessions.

  37. Florida1920

    Thanks for the memories

    The best long-weekend road trip ever started the Thursday morning IE4 with some "developer" crapola MS added completely hosed my system. It was May 1998, the sun was shining, and outside the window the MGB was glistening. Hang around and format and reinstall everything or go for a long ride? Haven't used IE since. So, thanks, IE! Still have fond memories of that top-down weekend.

  38. JDX Gold badge

    Considering the article only goes as far as IE4...'s not particularly useful.

    Joel Spolsky did a good article on the demise of Netscape:

  39. Bruce Ordway


    I'm kind of nostalgic for the old Compuserve.

    It was nice orderly forums and had many talented, respected members.

    Technical issues of Mosaic aside, the chaos of the internet bothered me the most.

    It wasn't until Google came along that I really got over the change.

  40. ammabamma

    I am actually looking forward to this new browser.

    I will now be able to download my Windows browser of choice in standards compliant manner!

  41. FF22

    Correcting the facts

    The article is so wrong on so many factual points, that I don't even know where to being with correcting it. Let me just point out a few of the worst factual errors:

    "a particularly annoying turd known as “winsock” whose sole purpose, as far as I can remember, was to prevent anyone from getting onto the web under any circumstances."

    Winsock was a copycat of the *nix sockets interface, which was supposed to enable easy porting of already existing *nix networking applications and utilities to Windows. So, the exact opposite of what you remember.

    "Early releases of IE were not terribly good but version 3.0 was a winner AND it was free."

    IE3 was vastly superior to all other browsers. It was the first major browser to support CSS and it also had ActiveX. Which at that time was the only way to achieve any kind of functionality in a browser that went beyond displaying some text and a few images.

    "Thus it became inevitable that free IE would win over the paid-for competition"

    Being free had nothing to do with it. Being technically superior was what made IE win over its competition - whether free or not. Being free earns you nothing if you lack in quality. That's the exact reason why Linux never won over paid-for Windows on the desktop (actually, it couldn't even make a dent in its market share), despite being free from the first day on.

    "For those of you who weren’t around in 1997, this was the year that Microsoft went mental. IE 4.0 was batshit crazy. It took over all your software, wormed into the file browser, it infested your very PC desktop, and it was Proprietary City"

    That was not Internet Explorer but the HTML rendering engine what was also used in IE. And by doing that Windows was far ahead of its time. Now, almost two decades later everyone is doing the same thing: moving over to web technologies, even in server and desktop apps. Why? Because said HTML technologies make a very good general purpose application platform, and they allow to merge the desktop with the web and the internet seamlessly. That's also the reason why MS used its HTML engine for purposes other than the basis of its web browser.

    "Even Mac users were forced to use the bloody thing, in return for Microsoft’s financial investment that ultimately saved Apple."

    Except that they were not. Just like Windows users weren't either. They were all free to install and use any other browser - just like they can do it now. Except, back then, there weren't any other decent browsers, and IE was years ahead all of the competition.

    "Yet it remained the dominant web browser in the year 2000 and beyond simply because Joe Public hasn’t a clue what a web browser is."

    Well, considering that even you didn't know what Winsock was or that there are no web standards, just recommendations, you can't blame them for that, can't you? Which btw doesn't mean that IE wouldn't have also stayed the dominant browser even then when everybody knew everything. Right?

    "The broadband generation is much more clued up about these things now, with most people choosing popular web browsers that are, to a greater or less extent, standards-based: Chrome, Firefox, Safari."

    Except, that even today, there are no web standards and thus are no standard-based browsers. The "standards" you are referring to are called "recommendations". That said, IE is and was always far more "standards-compliant" (recommendation-compliant) than Chrome, Firefox and Safari, just because it mostly only implemented specifications that have actually reached said "standard" (in reality: "recommendation") status, while the other browsers have also implemented features which were still heavily under development or straight up "proprietary". See vendor prefixes!

    Also most problems IE and the other browsers displaying and interpreting things differently in web pages could be traced back to the web page not being "standards" (recommendation) compliant in the first place. For ex. missing a proper DOCTYPE header.

    "It seems the only people still stuck with IE are corporates who are too scared to change in case it turns out that the whole basis of Western civilisation depends on a legacy (and, of course, proprietary) IE plug-in."

    Indeed, corporations make up the major part of IE-users. And that is exactly because of what I already explained above. Because IE implements only specifications which have been standardized, and because it does not remove, add or change features on a 6-weekly basis, like Chrome or Firefox does. Which can be fatal for a business that might rely on such a just-killed or just-stopped-working feature in it workflow.

    “I have developed a mantra during consultancy and training at these large organisations: “Launch your web browser. No, not that one. Internet Explorer is not a web browser.””

    And that's the exact reason why people who call themselves "consultants" have such a bad reputation.

    "To my mind, it’s a heavyweight, lard-arsed, fat bastard of a program "

    And yet, if you launch Task Manager (if you know what that is), it will tell you that both Chrome and Firefox take up more resources than IE.

    "The company seems to think the name suggests simplicity, speed and hardiness. This is funny because “spartan” actually describes something austere, empty and lacking in comfort."

    No. It stands exactly what you mentioned first: for being bare-boned, for the lack of whistles and bells. But most importantly for the lack of all the backwards-compatibility layers, codes and work-arounds, that hindered IE in getting more streamlined in the past decade, and which have been removed in Spartan.

    "Although Microsoft says it has no intention yet of killing off IE altogether, it’s a ship that has been taking in water for far too long to be salvageable, and it seems probable that Microsoft’s Rose will allow IE’s Jack to silently sink into the murky depths while no-one is looking"

    And yet, Spartan will be still Internet Explorer in that sense, that it is built on the very same codebase, that was the base of IE for decades. It will be just named differently and have a different front-end UI.

    It's all just marketing and show - and you fell for it. The good news is: so will millions of others, who will finally evaluate Microsoft's browser on its true merits, and not keep bashing it, because it was hip 20 years ago, and because they stopped learning news things at that time.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Hey... our minds are made up. Don't confuse us with the facts...

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Let us know when you finally get the facts.

      IE sucked and has always sucked. Netscape fucked themselves around 1998 when the browser became slow and buggy.

      The author was making a joke about winsock because it was the most common point of failure.

      Microsoft spent 20 years trying to bend and break Internet standards. .NET ring any bells? IIS? Frontpage? Word to make websites and the shitty, shitty code it created? ASP? Goddamn fucking ASP?!

      Compliant my ass.

    3. Ilgaz

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Firefox ESR is for enterprise with a clear roadmap and conservative release cycle.

      You also claim ActiveX was the only way, nope plugins were there. What MS wanted is to make sure they don't accept Netscape standards, plugin developers code non portable code for their API etc. They were in such panic so they couldn't even think of consequences of allowing the things ActiveX could do.

    4. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Thanks for the clarification. Whenever I saw a message telling me that I had to dick about with winsock to make it work, or change my version of winsock, or insert winsock up my arse, etc, what I really ought to have done was tell myself: "Oh, never mind. Winsock's just a copycat of the *nix sockets interface, which is supposed to enable easy porting of already existing *nix networking applications and utilities to Windows. So it's OK that it doesn't work."

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Don't think you deserved all the downvotage, but watcha gonna do...... ?

      I agree with most of your statements. However, MS attempts to rule the browser roost and be everything for everyone was a major marketing strategy failure. It led to so many user issues it wasn't funny and is largely responsible for much of IE's current crappiness. Trying to create standards in a standard-free wasteland was bound to end in tears

      Browsers need to render HTML web pages and simplify navigation to other web pages. Everything else tends to be fluff, bloatage or a major security risk.

      I also hope Spartan will bring back a kinder, simpler browsing experience. If so, I will use it again, but for now, I roll with its competitors.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Hah, hah - he took what Dabbsy said literally.

      What a n00b.

      Shall we send him to look for the blue goldfish next?

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Correcting the facts

      Cheer up.

  42. CJatCTi

    Your best post for months

    It might be that is was my journey too & I still use PSP for all my graphics (pasting diagrams together for users who need pictures to see what connect to what and still get it wrong).But you missed out the free t-shirt (that I still have) for being one of the first to download over dial-up the latest version of IE. that was posted to me while living in New Zealand - a proper 50,000 global freebie.

  43. ecofeco Silver badge

    The other part of the fun

    For your modem to || Command

    End test || AT&T0

    Local analogue loopback || AT&T1

    Local digital loopback || AT&T2

    Not used (error) || AT&T3

    Grant Remote Digital Loopback request || AT&T4

    Deny Remote Digital Loopback request || AT&T5

    Request Remote Digital Loopback || AT&T6

    Not used (error) || AT&T7

    Local analogue loopback with test pattern || AT&T8

    Local digital loopback with test pattern || AT&T9

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  44. Howard Hanek


    Yea those Spartan helmets do remind me of the Internet Exploder logo. You don't think.....?

    When you've been marketing desktop OSes for twenty something years and you've witnessed your users dump your browser first thing off (many because the bad guys have learned how to turn security into a much used joke in a standup's monologue) you begin to look for alternatives yourself.

    Like everything MS does it took a loooooonnnnnggggggg time.

  45. RonWheeler


    Corporates need IE. Every single place i've worked in the past 12 years has standardized on it and largely banned other browsers. To be clear, at home I never use IT - it sucks. At work - we don't let users have anything else - the mess would be hellish. Idealists be damned.

    1. Ilgaz

      Re: Corporates

      There are some still on ongoing mistakes that Firefox/Mozilla guys (dating back to Netscape) do so it's hard to blame those Windows Admins.

      It is Windows way of doing things vs UNIX way.

  46. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. I Am Spartacus

    All the lonely browsers

    All the lonely browsers

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French teaching…

    I beg to differ: the Internet emerged despite Internet Explorer, in the same way that I passed my French O-Level despite the worst efforts of my school’s hopelessly inept French teacher. Even the visiting student assistant would ask us kids what he was saying.

    That isn't because the teacher in question just spoke "pish" did he?

  49. Sarah Balfour

    Oi, IE!

    Apols if this doesn't appear as a clicky-linky-thingy, I've no fecking idea how to do 'em (is it even possible if you're not using a desktop OS…?). Also apologies that it's YT.

    Please note this refers exclusively to IE, and NOT to the inestimable Mr. Dabbs (although, after last week's column… ;oD)

  50. Ilgaz

    Mac IE wasn't that bad

    Mac IE had a way better rendering engine with features years ahead of windows one. Why? They just had to write a browser, not some desktop domination junk. They had to compete too, "installing Netscape" means dragging its icon to Applications or Desktop. Not a big deal. So it had to be good.

    I believe the Netscape panic attack did unrecoverable harm to public relations, developer relations and installed a poisonous culture to that company. Compare NT 4 era of MS to the later one.

    Karma is a bitch.

  51. downsouth

    Please remember M$ is evil, Google and Apple love you. Open source is ALWAYS the best choice and JAVA is awesome... oh wait, did I get something wrong? Without MS commoditising the IT industry, you'd all be working for Big Blue or buying expensive Apple products (well some things haven't changed).

    Now I understand that on this forum there are lots of highly qualified intelligent engineers (with demonstrable esoteric knowledge) that have evaluated decisions and developed an option that therefore must be right. After all they believe that they are thought leaders and champions of their community. Unfortunately it was made 20 years ago, and then never changed.

    I use MS products and IE as my preferred tools - they just work.

    I also use Bing (I prefer its regional options) - if you can't use it, you are doing it wrong.

    I use other browsers when it suits (see not always dogmatic) on the desktop and especially on the mobile (though never chrome or safari).

    I also don't feel the need to condescend to others because they don't have "IT knowledge". Senior managers, secretaries, marketers, machine operators, the dinner lady (etc.) all have skills that you don't have - regardless of your belief that you can do your bosses job or that you "sell" more than that flashy salesman...

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Must use IE at work...still!

    We use an accounting package, called Vision. You can only connect to it with IE. Its used for time sheets, expense reports and purchasing , so its pretty much unavoidable.

    Its also a lumbering POS, so it goes well with IE

  53. Joe Gurman

    In the US, at least, Spartan suggests a once popular brand of prophylactic. At least they didn't call it Trojan, which is still on sale here.

  54. Martin Budden Silver badge
  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The funny thing about IE4 wasn't just the browser, or ActiveDesktop…

    Who remembers:

    - Frontpage Express (ironic since there was nothing express about it, in fact it made website development awfully laborious)

    - Microsoft Comic Chat (did anyone EVER use that online)

    There was a whole suite of crap that came with that browser. All for what?

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