Ever wanted to view the web with IE 1.5? Here's a simple way to do it

Technically, the oldest Internet Explorer version that is still officially supported by Microsoft is IE6. It can still be run on Windows XP SP 3 and, as we have reported a lot lately, Microsoft will shut down support for that 12 year old OS in just over a month from now.

Most web sites have moved forward since that time with lots of new features and code that are used by more modern browsers. But could these sites also be viewed in some way by older browsers that are no longer supported? That was the question posed by programmer Antoni Sawicki, also known as "Tenox", who says he spends a lot of time working on older operating systems,

In a post on the Fun with Virtualization blog, he states that trying to bring up modern sites on older browsers "just doesn't work" thanks to the fact that those sites are based on more recent standards. However, Sawicki came up with this idea: "If you could render a web page on a proxy server to a simplified HTML, say 3.x. This would make a lot of web browsers happy."

He decided to use a program that created an screenshot of an entire web page, combined with an image map that has clickable sections based on the links of the original page. Then he created an app called Webrender.py to tie everything together. He states:

It’s a cgi-bin application that resides on a machine in the middle. It renders a gif image and spits out to the browser together with a simple web page, containing a URL and search input boxes plus the gif and image map.

The final result? Modern sites can be viewed on older browsers via the app, such as Microsoft.com on IE 1.5 as shown above. Sawicki added that Reddit was "surprisingly snappy with IE 1.5". There are still some drawbacks, such as the fact that the script only runs on Mac OS X, but he is "rewriting the script to work as a fully fledged HTTP proxy server instead of a cgi-bin application."

If you are thinking, why not simply do this with the browser agent, well, IE11 only supports agents back to IE6. So, if you want to use IE 1.5, you can do so with the method described above.

Source: Fun With Virtualization via Reddit | Image via Tenox

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Earliest I remember is IE 3.0... I didn't know anything before that was released to the public! Those old ugly toolbars sure bring back memories. And the logo in the upper right! lol!

I actually remember IE 2 and how I thought IE 3 was incredibly sluggish on my then 8 MB machine. IE 2 was sooo much more streamlined and nicer to use, not nearly as bloated! ;-)

I later upgraded my computer and it ran IE 4 pretty well, although this was a horribly crashy release since MS introduced "Dynamic HTML" (basically the DOM being manipulatable in Javascript) and signficantly enhanced CSS support, all demanding a major revision to the engine. I think they took on too many features at once for a release. IE 5 made IE 4 into what it should've been at release. I think IE 4 gave IE the bad reputation that took years to repair.

But I don't remember IE 1 much. I think it was only available for a very short time as part of the Windows 95 Plus Pack before Internet access hadn't become all too common for home users yet.

IE5 was certainly a watershed moment, and was the release that made me drop Netscape Navigator! I absolutely despised when my mail app would crash, taking down all my browser windows with it! Having a mail notification icon in my browser window was convenient, but not worth it when it came with grave stability issues that would cause one aspect of the Netscape suite to interfere with everything in such a way.

IE5 had the decency to let one window crash gracefully, however it still happened more often than I would have liked. IE still had its own problems (some links or favorites would open in the wrong window, potentially erasing a form or web email that I was filling out), but IE5 was a major step up that led me to stay in their camp for a long while.

How does it work?

CSS and jax is HUGE now. IE 1.5 had neither. CSS is what webmasters use now for styling and not html elements for the non webmaster readers here. In the 1990s it was easy as you just put tages for both. ... not so today

I forget if it was IE 3 or IE 4 that introduced CSS. I believe javascript wasn't in IE either until 4 was out.

sinetheo said,
How does it work?

CSS and jax is HUGE now. IE 1.5 had neither. CSS is what webmasters use now for styling and not html elements for the non webmaster readers here. In the 1990s it was easy as you just put tages for both. ... not so today

I forget if it was IE 3 or IE 4 that introduced CSS. I believe javascript wasn't in IE either until 4 was out.


CSS was apparently supported in IE 3 but of course very limited:
http://endoframe.com/css/ie3.html

Even IE 4 and Netscape 4 had very broken CSS support and didn't even support the stuff in the same way.

CSS was invented by HÃ¥kon Wium Lie at Opera Software, when proposing it to Tim Berners-Lee himself and Robert Cailliau at CERN in 1994. The Arena web browser was the first to support CSS, preceding even IE 1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arena_%28web_browser%29

warwagon said,
Click "Like" if you remember VRML!

Why can't it come back?

Fast forward today with GPU acceleration and fast pipes and cpu's 500 times faster it can be done. CSS 3 animations are clunky and aweful and each browser implements them half assed and differently

Who actually says to themselves "I need to make sure my website works under IE 1.5" ???? Especially in the past decade?

Funny the other day I was playing around with an old Windows 2000 VM I hadn't fired up in a couple years that had IE 5.5 installed. It was particularly useless as a browser for modern websites.

The only place I can imagine IE5 being used is in torture, ahem, enhanced interrogation rooms at Guantanamo.

10 minutes of using that piece of crap and you could get all the info from a suspect you'd need.

ah yes, the stop button, awesome to stop the execution of overbloated javascripts.
something that modern browser deliberately omits.

Torolol said,
ah yes, the stop button, awesome to stop the execution of overbloated javascripts.
something that modern browser deliberately omits.

That's because the refresh and stop buttons can be combined into one.

Raa said,
Or you could just press the escape key?

pressing escape key only works only if the javascript don't intercept it.
browser's default action for such keys (directional keys, escape, etc..) only executed if theres nothing intercepts it.

I have seen this in actions.

rfirth said,
That';s because the refresh and stop buttons can be combined into one.

which also implies that it only stop page loading, and not to stop javascripts execution.

Does anyone actually run an OS old enough that they need IE5 support? You'd have to be running Windows 98 or Windows 95 to do have a browser that old.

Yep I have a Dell laptop I use for abandonware and its easier to download the software directly instead of zipping the software folder copying to 1.44" Floppies. To me its kind of like emulating a NES game vs playing it on an actual NES

kjordan2001 said,
Does anyone actually run an OS old enough that they need IE5 support? You'd have to be running Windows 98 or Windows 95 to do have a browser that old.
It's actually IE 1.5, not 5!

Nah its not IE3 has bigger buttons. According to the source its actually IE 1.5, looks like someone forgot the "1." in the headline

You're right, it's not IE 3. It's earlier than that, and I liked IE 3. But I wonder about two things:

Why is this necessary? I'm sure it's not, which leads to...

Why doesn't someone with this much talent do something constructive?

Pishaw said,
Why doesn't someone with this much talent do something constructive?

All it does is use WebKit to render a website to an image and then make links clickable by using a <map> element. It's hardly a large undertaking, probably something he made in his lunch hour.