The evolution of Internet Explorer, 1.0 - 9.0


 

We have shown you TheRasteri's video of Windows being upgraded from 1.0 to 7, now with the release of Internet Explorer 9 only 1 week away, we take a look at the evolution of this popular web browser from version 1.0 up to present day.

Internet Explorer 1.0

When Windows 95 was launched, no browser was included. Instead users had to install the Windows 95 Plus! Pack and use the Internet Jumpstart Kit, or Internet Connection Wizard as its now known, to install it. This initial version was just over one megabyte in size and lacked a lot of functionality compared to modern browsers, including no media support, but good text support.

Internet Explorer 2.0

Released at the end of 1995, version 2.0 introduced support for javascript, frames, Secure Socket Layer, cookies and newsgroups. It was also the first cross platform browser working on both Windows and Mac OS.

Internet Explorer 3.0

A year later the new version 3.0 was released, it was one of the first browsers to support CSS and came with the now infamous, Microsoft 'e' symbol and a much cleaner layout. It also included the Outlook Express predecessor; Internet Mail and News 1.0. Media support was greatly improved with jpg, gif and midi file extensions all working.



Internet Explorer 4.0

In 1998 Microsoft released Windows 98 with version 4.0 in IE bundled with it. This version included a lot of improvements such as Active Desktop, Channels, Frontpage Express, Microsoft Chat 2.0 and numberous multimedia enhancements. The slogan, 'The web the way you want it' was also introduced.

Internet Explorer 5.0

Version 5.0 was released with Windows 98SE with many performance and stability improvements and the addition of bi-directional text support. The radio toolbar appeared with v5 as well as XML and XSL support. See how it almost displays Wikipedia correctly?

Internet Explorer 6.0

Windows XP came with version 6.0 already installed. The main focus of this version was security and privacy but there were some less serious improvements such as the addition of a pop-up blocker, the media bar and the print preview function. Up until the end of last year quite a few websites still supported this version, however with recent technical and security advances many have chosen to no longer do so, this includes the Neowin forum.

Internet Explorer 7.0

After a large 5 year gap Microsoft released version 7 along with Windows Vista. Tabbed browsing, phishing detection and RSS support were just some of the features included with this release. A new design and a lot of backend security fixes made this browser one of the most popular so far, even today v7 has a 9-11% market share.


 

Internet Explorer 8.0

Version 8.0 is the current release of Internet Explorer with a 28% market share. When released, this version support a vast range of new features like InPrivate Browsing, Web slices and automatic tab recovery upon a browser crash.

Internet Explorer 9.0

The release may only be a week or so away but has already been tested and reviewed by thousands, if not millions, of people. This new version brings support for HTML 5, a new downloads manager and large improvements in system resource usage.

Thank you to Windows8beta.com for the tip.

Image Source: Wikipedia

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IE3... [shudders]

IE3 replaced some core OS files and caused no end of grief for myself and other coworkers as developers. I'm forgetting the exact details, but that's probably for the best...

It will be very interesting to see how browser design continues to involve. Now that each of the major browsers has reached their most minimalistic appearance, it would seem as if they can only become more "bloated," for lack of a better term, from here. I believe that people will look back many years from now, after someone presents a similar evolutionary article, and wonder what the hell designers were thinking when they stripped away everything but the tabs, address bar and navigation buttons in the browsers. I for one enjoy it, but history has proven that browser UIs will continue to evolve, and the current "Chrome look" will have been a short lived experiment in the history of browser development.

I've seen IE3 screenshots before, and I've always wondered what was up with that "curly design" in the toolbar. Seriously, what was the point of that?

Nidoking said,
I've seen IE3 screenshots before, and I've always wondered what was up with that "curly design" in the toolbar. Seriously, what was the point of that?

I remember when it came out; believe it or not that looked cool and modern at the time. It was probably one of the earliest examples of skinning I think. You could turn it off if you didn't like it.

mitcho1989 said,
You should do one about the evolution of Chrome... Wait, no don't, you'd have to update it every 5 minutes.

And all the screenshots would look pretty much the same anyway. lol

why no mention of the IE sandbox (protected mode) that appeared in IE7/vista?
that's what has really put IE ahead of the competition in term of security (even flash and adobe reader plugins were sandboxed in IE7/vista)

jwmcpeak said,
IE4 was released in 1997, not with Windows 98's release.
True, looks like it was just over half a year before Win98 (which had 4.01).

Kirkburn said,
I'd forgotten about that 'channels' button ... I hardly recall what it ever did.

Basically it put a bunch of crap on your desktop. I remember the first time I saw Active Desktop on Windows 98, there were Disney, CNN, and other logos blinking all over the desktop. It was such stupid idea but at the time "push content" was a popular fad. Remember Pointcast?

i seriously can't stand that in IE9 they made the back button look like it has been cut off at the bottom.

and they did that by choice. it looks like a mistake to me and i think that moving it up a few pixels would make it look much better.

does anyone agree?

It is an unusual design choice, but is similar to the metro style (cut off text). If it were moved up a few pixels, then it wouldn't be aligned with the rest of the UI, or have to be reduced in size.

Kirkburn said,
It is an unusual design choice, but is similar to the metro style (cut off text). If it were moved up a few pixels, then it wouldn't be aligned with the rest of the UI, or have to be reduced in size.

They should reduce the size anyway, I hate the oversized back buttons everyone is using these days. It's not that important that it has to be huge and in your face.

TRC said,

They should reduce the size anyway, I hate the oversized back buttons everyone is using these days. It's not that important that it has to be huge and in your face.

Considering it's one the most important buttons, it should be.

TRC said,

They should reduce the size anyway, I hate the oversized back buttons everyone is using these days. It's not that important that it has to be huge and in your face.

Considering it's one the most important buttons, it should be.

I remember that IE 3 was actually pretty fast and good for the time. But honestly, it has taken about a decade for IE to become something that doesn't make you want to kill yourself when you use it. IE9 is actually pretty good, but the competition is still much more user friendly. Just look at the options dialog in IE9 and you'll find plenty of things that are hard to understand whereas Firefox, Chrome and Safari have mostly very easy and coherent options.

I remember the option to upload items via IE 3.0 required an additional addon installed. The Browse button just didn't appear. IE4 for me was a huge step. Shame Active Desktop did nothing but crash everyones desktop.

SK[ said,]I remember the option to upload items via IE 3.0 required an additional addon installed. The Browse button just didn't appear. IE4 for me was a huge step. Shame Active Desktop did nothing but crash everyones desktop.

worked fine for me, loved it. to bad they completely removed this functionality in Win7

IE4 introduced Frames (not 2.0). Until IE4, you pretty much had to use Netscape.
IE 5.5 wasn't mentioned.
IE6 didn't originally include a Popup Blocker, that was an update for XP SP2. (which made things like all those toolbars with "Popup blocker" popular, still required with IE6 on Win2000/9x/Me).

I thought IE6 did not have a pop up blocker until XP SP2 was released.
Edit: just read the post above mine, (the link to MS's page). Pop-up blocker came in 04

What, you mean it looks like a brief illustrated history of IE? There's only so many ways you can say IE6 added a popup blocker. Plus, that article barely goes past IE6.

Funny looks like MS as far as interface goes it was downgrade.

IE9 is the ugliest browser i have ever seen....can't stand it.

techguy77 said,
Funny looks like MS as far as interface goes it was downgrade.

IE9 is the ugliest browser i have ever seen....can't stand it.

I couldn't agree more. I'm amazed at the number of people who are slobbering over it. With IE 9 adopting the Chrome look, the dominant era of the menu bar reliant UI has finally come to an end. I'm surprised that the browsers evolved in such a way. In the past each browser tried to find a way to make its default interface unique from competing browsers. However, once Chrome entered the picture it didn't take long for other browers to implement Chrome's design into their own browsers. Opera and Firefox managed to successfully capture the aesthetic qualities that helped to make Chrome so popular, but IE 9 has completely failed to grasp what makes a UI minimalistic yet aesthetically appealing in my opinion. Those large round buttons are gaudy looking, and reminiscent of the 90s. They completely clash with the innovative, streamlined design which Chrome introduced. There is something else about the design that I can't quite put my finger one which makes it less appealing than its competitors also. I don't have much faith that they will, but I seriously hope they do away with those buttons before IE 9 final rolls out.

Minh Nguyen said,
BTW, IE4 interface looks the best!

Couldn't agree with you more. This is when that addon hotbar.com was so popular! Then it turned into some sort of virus later on I think.

Minh Nguyen said,
WTF!!! 5 years between IE6 and 7 ? no wonder its so hard for Microsoft to get rid of it for good!
Indeed, that stagnation causes us issue today (too many people coding only for it), but at the same time kick started the healthy browser market we have today.

You know the article is going to be stupid & idiotic when it starts with IE1 "lacked a lot of functionality compared to modern browsers".

alsiladka said,
You know the article is going to be stupid & idiotic when it starts with IE1 "lacked a lot of functionality compared to modern browsers".

comparing between ie1 and ie9 is like comparing cape men vs 2011 men

alsiladka, I'm sorry a factual note causes you such anguish. It is quite possible for v1 of something to include a lot of features, and not everyone knows the full history of IE, including dates.

Minh Nguyen said,
comparing between ie1 and ie9 is like comparing cape men vs 2011 men
I'm now imagining superheroes versus hipsters.

Kirkburn said,
alsiladka, I'm sorry a factual note causes you such anguish. It is quite possible for v1 of something to include a lot of features, and not everyone knows the full history of IE, including dates.

should actually add Mosaic browser to the history line. as those are IE's roots. and not just 1.0

lol, I remember my first beta in IE 4 and how it incorporated that "single click" technology throughout Windows. One of the first bugs I noticed is that when you single clicked on a top level folder, it would open that and every icon underneath it (folder or app).

I still remember getting a friend to install an early alpha release of IE3/4 platform preview, the one that integrated with the desktop etc. Didn't realise the one we had sent had expired and screwed his machine right up! Oh the good old days

And you want to know what is sad? At work we are STILL on IE6. Wish I was kidding, and I am talking a major, major corporation.

DirtyLarry said,
And you want to know what is sad? At work we are STILL on IE6. Wish I was kidding, and I am talking a major, major corporation.

Yes our current build still has IE6! Ha makes me laugh but I don't work in packaging just Desktop!. At least we are now deploying Outlook 2007 I guess! You can request IE8 to be installed though.

DirtyLarry said,
And you want to know what is sad? At work we are STILL on IE6. Wish I was kidding, and I am talking a major, major corporation.

Tell me which corporation you are so I can hack your main frame please using exploits that are 8 years old.

Do you guys have an IT department? You should ask them to upgrade

DirtyLarry said,
And you want to know what is sad? At work we are STILL on IE6. Wish I was kidding, and I am talking a major, major corporation.

Supply a plan that in the long run updating will reduce costs.

If you are serious and give a good presentation, they will accept and possibly even give you a bonus for shaving costs.

Tidus4eva said,

Tell me which corporation you are so I can hack your main frame please using exploits that are 8 years old.

Do you guys have an IT department? You should ask them to upgrade


because all the exploits are still wide open.

superbeam said,

Supply a plan that in the long run updating will reduce costs.

If you are serious and give a good presentation, they will accept and possibly even give you a bonus for shaving costs.


IE6 does what they often want it to do, display their own for IE6 written websites/services.
upgrading almost always just costs money with no beneficial gain.

its fine for normal webbrowsing and such, and in a proper network/environment, it can still be used in a save way.

DirtyLarry said,
And you want to know what is sad? At work we are STILL on IE6. Wish I was kidding, and I am talking a major, major corporation.

Many computers in the NHS are still running IE6. They have firewalls upon firewalls to protect patient data online but still use IE6. Go figure.

Shadowzz said,

IE6 does what they often want it to do, display their own for IE6 written websites/services.
upgrading almost always just costs money with no beneficial gain.

its fine for normal webbrowsing and such, and in a proper network/environment, it can still be used in a save way.


This. Just because a few websites will not work for personal use, that means nothing to the company. Currently IE 6 does what they need it to do, and a lot of the systems implemented internally by various departments would also need to be upgraded if IE was upgraded. It is not as simple as upgrade IE. There are a lot of apps and back-end databases tied in that may also need to be updated, and at the very least migrated. We are talking about a HUGE initiative that costs millions and millions of dollars.

Regardless, my wishes will be granted by the end of the year, the entire company will be migrated to Windows 7, and thus IE will be updated as well. I hear it may be IE 8, but we will see.

DirtyLarry said,

This. Just because a few websites will not work for personal use, that means nothing to the company. Currently IE 6 does what they need it to do, and a lot of the systems implemented internally by various departments would also need to be upgraded if IE was upgraded. It is not as simple as upgrade IE. There are a lot of apps and back-end databases tied in that may also need to be updated, and at the very least migrated. We are talking about a HUGE initiative that costs millions and millions of dollars.

Regardless, my wishes will be granted by the end of the year, the entire company will be migrated to Windows 7, and thus IE will be updated as well. I hear it may be IE 8, but we will see.


for you i hope they skip both IE7 and IE8 and just go with IE9 then But doubt they'll go with such a 'new' browser as IE9. Doubt they'll downgrade IE8 to IE7 tho.

quick google and IE7 isnt even supported on Windows 7 (or well, no supported method to downgrade the default IE8 to IE7)

even tho MS does its best for backwards compatibility, it seems to fail doing so every IE release

Rudy said,
I fail to understand why there's nothing in the titlebar of IE 9

Would you prefer if it said "Page Name - Microsoft Internet Explorer" ?

Rudy said,
I fail to understand why there's nothing in the titlebar of IE 9

Because it's a minimalist design. Why duplicate what's written on the active tab in the titlebar?

IE9 is designed to get out of the way of web designers, and their content consumers.

Rudy said,
I fail to understand why there's nothing in the titlebar of IE 9

Maybe because theres a BACK button in the titlebar?

Jan said,

Maybe because theres a BACK button in the titlebar?

Well the title bar now seems to be just the title bar for each tab? Kinda makes sense to me really.

dotf said,

Because it's a minimalist design. Why duplicate what's written on the active tab in the titlebar?

IE9 is designed to get out of the way of web designers, and their content consumers.

Duplicate? I only see A.. B.. C.. D.. on my tabs. Why waste the title bar space? Chrome at least uses it for tabs.

Rudy said,
I fail to understand why there's nothing in the titlebar of IE 9
The same reason there's nothing in the title bar of Windows Explorer?

That consistency aside, I guess because the title bar is part of a frame that contains several tabs, and to have a title bar that keeps changing is kind of messy.

Jan said,

Maybe because theres a BACK button in the titlebar?

You do realize that the back button only goes in the title bar by about 4px max right? It would have been fine to have text too

I still hate the way the back button is cut off at the bottom. I know it's intentional but that just makes it look buggy. It was a terrible design choice.

Rudy said,
You do realize that the back button only goes in the title bar by about 4px max right? It would have been fine to have text too

Do you know how awful and un-native that would look?

Amazing how Microsoft just stopped improving Internet Explorer over a period of 5 years.

Something I miss from this article are release dates.

.Neo said,
Amazing how Microsoft just stopped improving Internet Explorer over a period of 5 years.

Something I miss from this article are release dates.

Netscape was as good as dead so they had no competition at all. They got to sit back and be lazy until Firefox became popular.

IE 5.5 FTW for me as an old school dev! It allows the majorly cool chrome-less windows through javascript, nothing beat it to this day!

flexkeyboard said,
IE 5.5 FTW for me as an old school dev! It allows the majorly cool chrome-less windows through javascript, nothing beat it to this day!

yeah, way cool if you are going to develop a fake application!! <sarcasim>

Jan said,
IE 9 FTW.

+1

also I know how everyone hates on IE6 all the time but I never noticed how much of a change it was from IE5..