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Microsoft celebrates Internet Explorer's 15th birthday

Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer, today celebrates its fifteenth birthday as the Redmond-based giant prepares to unveil the next version, Internet Explorer 9.

The web browser, the world's most used (but arguably most hated) according to recent NetApplications figures, was born on the 16th of August, 1995 when version 1.0 was made available to the public. The first version of IE was based off Spyglass's Mosaic application -- which Microsoft originally licensed but was eventually used to form the code basis for future versions of IE.

It wasn't until version 3.0, released on August 13, 1996 that Microsoft first began bundling the web browser into Windows, making it the default web browser and exponentially growing the browsers market share, pushing out market leader Netscape Navigator.

Since the debut of Mozilla Firefox in 2004, it's been a tough old slog for IE, which is now facing an increasingly competitive browser field with competitors such as Google Chrome, Opera and newer editions of Firefox, that has left the browser facing a slowly eroding market share.

And just last year Microsoft was also faced with a European Union decision to force the company to stop making IE the default Windows web browser in Europe last year, with the company now showing users a "browser ballot" when they turn on newly purchased Windows computers for the first time.

The future is looking better for IE however, with version 9 of the browser widely expected to be released later this year with a possible beta as soon as September 15. IE 9 is expected to better conform to web industry standards such as CSS, and will reportedly feature a user interface similar to that of Google Chrome alongside for the first time a downloads manager.

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