Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer[a] (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer[b] and currently Windows Internet Explorer,[c] commonly referred to as Explorer and abbreviated IE or MSIE) was a series of graphical web browsers (or as of 2019, a "compatibility solution"[5]) developed by Microsoft and included in the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows. The browser is discontinued, but still maintained.[2]

Internet Explorer was once the most widely used web browser, attaining a peak of about 95% usage share by 2003.[6] This came after Microsoft used bundling to win the first browser war against Netscape, which was the dominant browser in the 1990s. Its usage share has since declined with the launch of Firefox (2004) and Google Chrome (2008), and with the growing popularity of operating systems such as Android and iOS that do not run Internet Explorer. Estimates for Internet Explorer's market share are about 2.58% across all platforms or by StatCounter's numbers ranked 7th, while on desktop, the only platform it's ever had significant share (i.e., excluding mobile and Xbox) it's ranked 4th at 5.34%,[7] just after macOS's Safari (others[8] place IE 3rd with 4.79% after Firefox), as of February 2019 (browser market share is notoriously difficult to calculate). Microsoft spent over US$100 million per year on Internet Explorer in the late 1990s,[9] with over 1,000 people involved in the project by 1999.[10][11]

Versions of Internet Explorer for other operating systems have also been produced, including an Xbox 360 version called Internet Explorer for Xbox and for platforms Microsoft no longer supports: Internet Explorer for Mac and Internet Explorer for UNIX (Solaris and HP-UX), and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobile made for Windows Phone, Windows CE, and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Mobile.

On March 17, 2015, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Edge would replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on its Windows 10 devices (while support for older Windows has since been announced, as of 2019 Edge still has lower share than IE's, that's in decline). This effectively makes Internet Explorer 11 the last release (however IE 8, 9, and 10 also receive security updates as of 2019).[12][13][14] Internet Explorer, however, remains on Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019 primarily for enterprise purposes.[15][16] Since January 12, 2016, only Internet Explorer 11 has been supported.[17][18] Support varies based on the operating system's technical capabilities and its support lifecycle.[19]

The browser has been scrutinized throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of fair browser competition.[20]

Internet Explorer
Small blue "e" letter with a yellow aureola
Internet Explorer 11 running on Windows 10
Internet Explorer 11 running on Windows 10
Original author(s)Thomas Reardon
Developer(s)Microsoft
Initial releaseAugust 16, 1995
Stable release(s)
Windows11.0.120 (April 9, 2019[1]) [±]
Mac OS5.2.3 (June 16, 2003) [±]
UNIX5.01 SP1 (2001) [±]
Development statusDiscontinued, but maintained[2]
Operating systemWindows (and previously supported: Mac OS X, Solaris, HP-UX)
Included withWindows 95 OSR1 and later
Windows NT 4 and later
Mac OS 8.1 through Mac OS X 10.2
Xbox 360
Xbox One
EnginesTrident, Chakra
PlatformIA-32, x86-64, ARMv7, IA-64 (and previously supported: MIPS, Alpha, PowerPC, 68k, SPARC, PA-RISC)
Standard(s)HTML5, CSS3, WOFF, SVG, RSS, Atom, JPEG XR
Available in95 languages[3]
TypeWeb browser
Feed reader
LicenseProprietary, requires a Windows license[4]
Websitewww.microsoft.com/ie
Internet Explorer versions:

History

Internet Explorer 1

Internet Explorer 1.0
Internet Explorer 1

The Internet Explorer project was started in the summer of 1994 by Thomas Reardon, who, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Review of 2003,[21] used source code from Spyglass, Inc. Mosaic, which was an early commercial web browser with formal ties to the pioneering National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) Mosaic browser.[22][23] In late 1994, Microsoft licensed Spyglass Mosaic for a quarterly fee plus a percentage of Microsoft's non-Windows revenues for the software.[23] Although bearing a name similar to NCSA Mosaic, Spyglass Mosaic had used the NCSA Mosaic source code sparingly.[24]

The first version, dubbed Microsoft Internet Explorer, was installed as part of the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and Plus!.[25] The Internet Explorer team began with about six people in early development.[24][26] Internet Explorer 1.5 was released several months later for Windows NT and added support for basic table rendering. By including it free of charge with their operating system, they did not have to pay royalties to Spyglass Inc, resulting in a lawsuit and a US$8 million settlement on January 22, 1997.[22][27]

Microsoft was sued by Synet Inc. in 1996, over the trademark infringement.[28]

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 is featured in a Windows 8.1 update which was released on October 17, 2013. It includes an incomplete mechanism for syncing tabs. It is a major update to its developer tools,[29][30] enhanced scaling for high DPI screens,[31] HTML5 prerender and prefetch,[32] hardware-accelerated JPEG decoding,[33] closed captioning, HTML5 full screen,[34] and is the first Internet Explorer to support WebGL[35][36][37] and Google's protocol SPDY (starting at v3).[38] This version of IE has features dedicated to Windows 8.1, including cryptography (WebCrypto),[29] adaptive bitrate streaming (Media Source Extensions)[39] and Encrypted Media Extensions.[34]

Internet Explorer 11 was made available for Windows 7 users to download on November 7, 2013, with Automatic Updates in the following weeks.[40]

Internet Explorer 11's user agent string now identifies the agent as "Trident" (the underlying layout engine) instead of "MSIE". It also announces compatibility with Gecko (the layout engine of Firefox).

Microsoft claimed that Internet Explorer 11, running the WebKit SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark, was the fastest browser as of October 15, 2013.[41]

Internet Explorer 11 will be made available for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard in the spring of 2019.[42]

End of life

Microsoft Edge, officially unveiled on January 21, 2015, has replaced Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows 10. Internet Explorer is still installed in Windows 10 in order to maintain compatibility with older websites and intranet sites that require ActiveX and other Microsoft legacy web technologies.[43][44][45]

According to Microsoft, development of new features for Internet Explorer has ceased. However, it will continue to be maintained as part of the support policy for the versions of Windows with which it is included.[2]

Features

Internet Explorer zoom menu
Page zoom as seen in IE9

Internet Explorer has been designed to view a broad range of web pages and provide certain features within the operating system, including Microsoft Update. During the heyday of the browser wars, Internet Explorer superseded Netscape only when it caught up technologically to support the progressive features of the time.[46]

Standards support

Internet Explorer, using the Trident layout engine:

  • Supports HTML 4.01, HTML 5, CSS Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3, XML 1.0, and DOM Level 1, with minor implementation gaps.
  • Fully supports XSLT 1.0 as well as an obsolete Microsoft dialect of XSLT often referred to as WD-xsl, which was loosely based on the December 1998 W3C Working Draft of XSL. Support for XSLT 2.0 lies in the future: semi-official Microsoft bloggers have indicated that development is underway, but no dates have been announced.
  • Almost full conformance to CSS 2.1 has been added in the Internet Explorer 8 release.[47][48] The trident rendering engine in Internet Explorer 9 in 2011, scored highest in the official W3C conformance test suite for CSS 2.1 of all major browsers.
  • Supports XHTML in Internet Explorer 9 (Trident version 5.0). Prior versions can render XHTML documents authored with HTML compatibility principles and served with a text/html MIME-type.
  • Supports a subset[49] of SVG in Internet Explorer 9 (Trident version 5.0), excluding SMIL, SVG fonts and filters.

Internet Explorer uses DOCTYPE sniffing to choose between standards mode and a "quirks mode" in which it deliberately mimicks nonstandard behaviours of old versions of MSIE for HTML and CSS rendering on screen (Internet Explorer always uses standards mode for printing). It also provides its own dialect of ECMAScript called JScript.

Internet Explorer was criticised by Tim Berners-Lee for its limited support for SVG, which is promoted by W3C.[50]

Non-standard extensions

Internet Explorer has introduced an array of proprietary extensions to many of the standards, including HTML, CSS, and the DOM. This has resulted in a number of web pages that appear broken in standards-compliant web browsers and has introduced the need for a "quirks mode" to allow for rendering improper elements meant for Internet Explorer in these other browsers.

Internet Explorer has introduced a number of extensions to the DOM that have been adopted by other browsers. These include the innerHTML property, which provides access to the HTML string within an element; the XMLHttpRequest object, which allows the sending of HTTP request and receiving of HTTP response, and may be used to perform AJAX; and the designMode attribute of the contentDocument object, which enables rich text editing of HTML documents. Some of these functionalities were not possible until the introduction of the W3C DOM methods. Its Ruby character extension to HTML is also accepted as a module in W3C XHTML 1.1, though it is not found in all versions of W3C HTML.

Microsoft submitted several other features of IE for consideration by the W3C for standardization. These include the 'behaviour' CSS property, which connects the HTML elements with JScript behaviours (known as HTML Components, HTC); HTML+TIME profile, which adds timing and media synchronization support to HTML documents (similar to the W3C XHTML+SMIL), and the VML vector graphics file format. However, all were rejected, at least in their original forms; VML was subsequently combined with PGML (proposed by Adobe and Sun), resulting in the W3C-approved SVG format, one of the few vector image formats being used on the web, which IE did not support until version 9.[51]

Other non-standard behaviours include: support for vertical text, but in a syntax different from W3C CSS3 candidate recommendation, support for a variety of image effects[52] and page transitions, which are not found in W3C CSS, support for obfuscated script code, in particular JScript.Encode,[53] as well as support for embedding EOT fonts in web pages.[54]

Favicon

Support for favicons was first added in Internet Explorer 5.[55] Internet Explorer supports favicons in PNG, static GIF and native Windows icon formats. In Windows Vista and later, Internet Explorer can display native Windows icons that have embedded PNG files.[56][57]

Usability and accessibility

Internet Explorer makes use of the accessibility framework provided in Windows. Internet Explorer is also a user interface for FTP, with operations similar to that of Windows Explorer. Pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing were added respectively in Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7. Tabbed browsing can also be added to older versions by installing MSN Search Toolbar or Yahoo Toolbar.

Cache

Internet Explorer caches visited content in the Temporary Internet Files folder to allow quicker access (or offline access) to previously visited pages. The content is indexed in a database file, known as Index.dat. Multiple Index.dat files exist which index different content—visited content, web feeds, visited URLs, cookies, etc.[58]

Prior to IE7, clearing the cache used to clear the index but the files themselves were not reliably removed, posing a potential security and privacy risk. In IE7 and later, when the cache is cleared, the cache files are more reliably removed, and the index.dat file is overwritten with null bytes.

Caching has been improved in IE9.[59]

Group Policy

Internet Explorer is fully configurable using Group Policy. Administrators of Windows Server domains (for domain-joined computers) or the local computer can apply and enforce a variety of settings on computers that affect the user interface (such as disabling menu items and individual configuration options), as well as underlying security features such as downloading of files, zone configuration, per-site settings, ActiveX control behaviour and others. Policy settings can be configured for each user and for each machine. Internet Explorer also supports Integrated Windows Authentication.

Architecture

IExplore
The architecture of IE8. Previous versions had a similar architecture, except that both tabs and the UI were within the same process. Consequently, each browser window could have only one "tab process".

Internet Explorer uses a componentized architecture built on the Component Object Model (COM) technology. It consists of several major components, each of which is contained in a separate Dynamic-link library (DLL) and exposes a set of COM programming interfaces hosted by the Internet Explorer main executable, iexplore.exe:[60]

  • WinInet.dll is the protocol handler for HTTP, HTTPS and FTP. It handles all network communication over these protocols.
  • URLMon.dll is responsible for MIME-type handling and download of web content, and provides a thread-safe wrapper around WinInet.dll and other protocol implementations.
  • MSHTML.dll houses the Trident rendering engine introduced in Internet Explorer 4, which is responsible for displaying the pages on-screen and handling the Document Object Model of the web pages. MSHTML.dll parses the HTML/CSS file and creates the internal DOM tree representation of it. It also exposes a set of APIs for runtime inspection and modification of the DOM tree. The DOM tree is further processed by a layout engine which then renders the internal representation on screen.
  • IEFrame.dll contains the user interface and window of IE in Internet Explorer 7 and above.
  • ShDocVw.dll provides the navigation, local caching and history functionalities for the browser.
  • BrowseUI.dll is responsible for rendering the browser user interface such as menus and toolbars.[61]

Internet Explorer does not include any native scripting functionality. Rather, MSHTML.dll exposes an API that permits a programmer to develop a scripting environment to be plugged-in and to access the DOM tree. Internet Explorer 8 includes the bindings for the Active Scripting engine, which is a part of Microsoft Windows and allows any language implemented as an Active Scripting module to be used for client-side scripting. By default, only the JScript and VBScript modules are provided; third party implementations like ScreamingMonkey (for ECMAScript 4 support) can also be used. Microsoft also makes available the Microsoft Silverlight runtime (not supported in Windows RT) that allows CLI languages, including DLR-based dynamic languages like IronPython and IronRuby, to be used for client-side scripting.

Internet Explorer 8 introduces some major architectural changes, called Loosely Coupled IE (LCIE). LCIE separates the main window process (frame process) from the processes hosting the different web applications in different tabs (tab processes). A frame process can create multiple tab processes, each of which can be of a different integrity level; each tab process can host multiple web sites. The processes use asynchronous Inter-Process Communication to synchronize themselves. Generally, there will be a single frame process for all web sites. In Windows Vista with Protected Mode turned on, however, opening privileged content (such as local HTML pages) will create a new tab process as it will not be constrained by Protected Mode.[62]

Extensibility

Internet Explorer exposes a set of Component Object Model (COM) interfaces that allows add-ons to extend the functionality of the browser.[60] Extensibility is divided into two types: Browser extensibility and content extensibility. Browser extensibility involves adding context menu entries, toolbars, menu items or Browser Helper Objects (BHO). BHOs are used to extend the feature set of the browser, whereas the other extensibility options are used to expose that feature in the user interface. Content extensibility adds support for non-native content formats.[60] It allows Internet Explorer to handle new file formats and new protocols, e.g. WebM or SPDY.[60] In addition, web pages can integrate widgets known as ActiveX controls which run on Windows only but have vast potentials to extend the content capabilities; Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight are examples.[60] Add-ons can be installed either locally, or directly by a web site.

Since malicious add-ons can compromise the security of a system, Internet Explorer implements several safeguards. Internet Explorer 6 with Service Pack 2 and later feature an Add-on Manager for enabling or disabling individual add-ons, complemented by a "No Add-Ons" mode. Starting with Windows Vista, Internet Explorer and its BHOs run with restricted privileges and are isolated from the rest of the system. Internet Explorer 9 introduced a new component – Add-on Performance Advisor. Add-on Performance Advisor shows a notification when one or more of installed add-ons exceed a pre-set performance threshold. The notification appears in the Notification Bar when the user launches the browser. Windows 8 and Windows RT introduce a Metro-style version of Internet Explorer that is entirely sandboxed and does not run add-ons at all.[63] In addition, Windows RT cannot download or install ActiveX controls at all; although existing ones bundled with Windows RT still run in the traditional version of Internet Explorer.[63]

Internet Explorer itself can be hosted by other applications via a set of COM interfaces. This can be used to embed the browser functionality inside a computer program or create Internet Explorer shells.[60]

Security

Internet Explorer uses a zone-based security framework that groups sites based on certain conditions, including whether it is an Internet- or intranet-based site as well as a user-editable whitelist. Security restrictions are applied per zone; all the sites in a zone are subject to the restrictions.

Internet Explorer 6 SP2 onwards uses the Attachment Execution Service of Microsoft Windows to mark executable files downloaded from the Internet as being potentially unsafe. Accessing files marked as such will prompt the user to make an explicit trust decision to execute the file, as executables originating from the Internet can be potentially unsafe. This helps in preventing accidental installation of malware.

Internet Explorer 7 introduced the phishing filter, that restricts access to phishing sites unless the user overrides the decision. With version 8, it also blocks access to sites known to host malware. Downloads are also checked to see if they are known to be malware-infected.

In Windows Vista, Internet Explorer by default runs in what is called Protected Mode, where the privileges of the browser itself are severely restricted—it cannot make any system-wide changes. One can optionally turn this mode off but this is not recommended. This also effectively restricts the privileges of any add-ons. As a result, even if the browser or any add-on is compromised, the damage the security breach can cause is limited.

Patches and updates to the browser are released periodically and made available through the Windows Update service, as well as through Automatic Updates. Although security patches continue to be released for a range of platforms, most feature additions and security infrastructure improvements are only made available on operating systems which are in Microsoft's mainstream support phase.

On December 16, 2008, Trend Micro recommended users switch to rival browsers until an emergency patch was released to fix a potential security risk which "could allow outside users to take control of a person's computer and steal their passwords". Microsoft representatives countered this recommendation, claiming that "0.02% of internet sites" were affected by the flaw. A fix for the issue was released the following day with the Security Update for Internet Explorer KB960714, on Microsoft Windows Update.[64][65]

In 2011, a report by Accuvant, funded by Google, rated the security (based on sandboxing) of Internet Explorer worse than Google Chrome but better than Mozilla Firefox.[66][67]

A more recent browser security white paper comparing Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer 11 by X41 D-Sec in 2017 came to similar conclusions, also based on sandboxing and support of legacy web technologies.[68]

Security vulnerabilities

Internet Explorer has been subjected to many security vulnerabilities and concerns: much of the spyware, adware, and computer viruses across the Internet are made possible by exploitable bugs and flaws in the security architecture of Internet Explorer, sometimes requiring nothing more than viewing of a malicious web page in order to install themselves. This is known as a "drive-by install". There are also attempts to trick the user into installing malicious software by misrepresenting the software's true purpose in the description section of an ActiveX security alert.

A number of security flaws affecting IE originated not in the browser itself, but ActiveX-based add-ons used by it. Because the add-ons have the same privilege as IE, the flaws can be as critical as browser flaws. This has led to the ActiveX-based architecture being criticized for being fault-prone. By 2005, some experts maintained that the dangers of ActiveX have been overstated and there were safeguards in place.[69] In 2006, new techniques using automated testing found more than a hundred vulnerabilities in standard Microsoft ActiveX components.[70] Security features introduced in Internet Explorer 7 mitigated some of these vulnerabilities.

Internet Explorer in 2008, had a number of published security vulnerabilities. According to research done by security research firm Secunia, Microsoft did not respond as quickly as its competitors in fixing security holes and making patches available.[71] The firm also reported 366 vulnerabilities in ActiveX controls, an increase from the prior year.

According to an October 2010 report in The Register, researcher Chris Evans had detected a known security vulnerability which, then dating back to 2008, had not been fixed for at least 600 days.[72] Microsoft says that it had known about this vulnerability but it was of very low severity as the victim web site must be configured in a special way for this attack to be feasible at all.[73]

In December 2010, researchers were able to bypass the "Protected Mode" feature in Internet Explorer.[74]

Vulnerability exploited in attacks on U.S. firms

StatCounter-browser-ww-monthly-201707-201707-map
Browser Market Share Worldwide July 2017 (for map);[75] rank/share in December 2018[76]
  Google Chrome (62.4%)
  Safari (14.56%)
  Firefox (5.1%)
  UC Browser (4.17%)
  Opera (3.13%)

In an advisory on January 14, 2010, Microsoft said that attackers targeting Google and other U.S. companies used software that exploits a security hole, which had already been patched, in Internet Explorer. The vulnerability affected Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP and Server 2003, IE6 SP1 on Windows 2000 SP4, IE7 on Windows Vista, XP, Server 2008 and Server 2003, and IE8 on Windows 7, Vista, XP, Server 2003, and Server 2008 (R2).[77]

The German government warned users against using Internet Explorer and recommended switching to an alternative web browser, due to the major security hole described above that was exploited in Internet Explorer.[78] The Australian and French Government issued a similar warning a few days later.[79][80][81][82]

Major vulnerability across versions

On April 26, 2014, Microsoft issued a security advisory relating to CVE-2014-1776 (use-after-free vulnerability in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 through 11[83]), a vulnerability that could allow "remote code execution" in Internet Explorer versions 6 to 11.[84] On April 28, 2014, the United States Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) released an advisory stating that the vulnerability could result in "the complete compromise" of an affected system.[85] US-CERT recommended reviewing Microsoft's suggestions to mitigate an attack or using an alternate browser until the bug is fixed.[86][87] The UK National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-UK) published an advisory announcing similar concerns and for users to take the additional step of ensuring their antivirus software is up-to-date.[88] Symantec, a cyber security firm, confirmed that "the vulnerability crashes Internet Explorer on Windows XP".[89] The vulnerability was resolved on May 1, 2014, with a security update.[90]

Market adoption and usage share

Internet-explorer-usage-data
Historical market share of Internet Explorer

The adoption rate of Internet Explorer seems to be closely related to that of Microsoft Windows, as it is the default web browser that comes with Windows. Since the integration of Internet Explorer 2.0 with Windows 95 OSR 1 in 1996, and especially after version 4.0's release in 1997, the adoption was greatly accelerated: from below 20% in 1996, to about 40% in 1998, and over 80% in 2000. This made Microsoft the winner in the infamous 'first browser war' against Netscape. Netscape Navigator was the dominant browser during 1995 and until 1997, but rapidly lost share to IE starting in 1998, and eventually slipped behind in 1999. The integration of IE with Windows led to a lawsuit by AOL, Netscape's owner, accusing Microsoft of unfair competition. The infamous case was eventually won by AOL but by then it was too late, as Internet Explorer had already become the dominant browser.

Internet Explorer peaked during 2002 and 2003, with about 95% share. Its first notable competitor after beating Netscape was Firefox from Mozilla, which itself was an offshoot from Netscape.

Firefox 1.0 had surpassed Internet Explorer 5 in early 2005, with Firefox 1.0 at roughly 8 percent market share.[91]

Approximate usage over time based on various usage share counters averaged for the year overall, or for the fourth quarter, or for the last month in the year depending on availability of reference.[92][93][94][95][96][97]

According to StatCounter Internet Explorer's marketshare fell below 50% in September 2010.[98] In May 2012, Google Chrome overtook Internet Explorer as the most used browser worldwide, according to StatCounter.[99]

Industry adoption

Browser Helper Objects are also used by many search engine companies and third parties for creating add-ons that access their services, such as search engine toolbars. Because of the use of COM, it is possible to embed web-browsing functionality in third-party applications. Hence, there are a number of Internet Explorer shells, and a number of content-centric applications like RealPlayer also use Internet Explorer's web browsing module for viewing web pages within the applications.

Removal

While a major upgrade of Internet Explorer can be uninstalled in a traditional way if the user has saved the original application files for installation, the matter of uninstalling the version of the browser that has shipped with an operating system remains a controversial one.

The idea of removing a stock install of Internet Explorer from a Windows system was proposed during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. case. One of Microsoft's arguments during the trial was that removing Internet Explorer from Windows may result in system instability. Indeed, programs that depend on libraries installed by IE, including Windows help and support system, fail to function without IE. Before Windows Vista, it was not possible to run Windows Update without IE because the service used ActiveX technology, which no other web browser supports.

Impersonation by malware

The popularity of Internet Explorer has led to the appearance of malware abusing its name. On January 28, 2011, a fake Internet Explorer browser calling itself "Internet Explorer – Emergency Mode" appeared. It closely resembles the real Internet Explorer, but has fewer buttons and no search bar. If a user attempts to launch any other browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari or the real Internet Explorer, this browser will be loaded instead. It also displays a fake error message, claiming that the computer is infected with malware and Internet Explorer has entered "Emergency Mode". It blocks access to legitimate sites such as Google if the user tries to access them.[100][101]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Since version 10
  2. ^ In version 6 and earlier
  3. ^ In versions 7, 8, and 9

References

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Further reading

External links

ActiveX

ActiveX is a software framework created by Microsoft that adapts its earlier Component Object Model (COM) and Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) technologies for content downloaded from a network, particularly from the World Wide Web. Microsoft introduced ActiveX in 1996. In principle, ActiveX is not dependent on Microsoft Windows operating systems, but in practice, most ActiveX controls only run on Windows. Most also require the client to be running on an x86-based computer because ActiveX controls contain compiled code.ActiveX is still supported as of Windows 10 through Internet Explorer 11, while ActiveX is not supported in their default web browser Microsoft Edge (which has a different, incompatible extension system).

Browser wars

A browser war is competition for dominance in the usage share of web browsers. The "First Browser War" during the late 1990s pitted Microsoft's Internet Explorer against Netscape's Navigator. Browser wars continued with the decline of Internet Explorer's market share and the popularity of other browsers including Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

With the introduction of HTML5 and CSS 3, a new generation of browser war began, this time adding extensive client-side scripting to the World Wide Web, as well as more widespread use of smartphones and other mobile devices for browsing the web. These newcomers have ensured that browser battles continue among enthusiasts, while the average web user is less affected.

Internet Explorer 10

Internet Explorer 10 (IE10) is the tenth version of the Internet Explorer web browser released by Microsoft in 2012, and is the default browser in Windows 8. IE10 expands on Internet Explorer 9 functionality with regard to CSS3 support, hardware acceleration, and HTML5 support.

On Windows 8, it is divided into two editions with different user interfaces: a Metro app that does not support plug-ins and a traditional desktop application that retains plug-in support. On 64-bit computers, the Metro edition runs in 64-bit mode by default. The desktop edition can be run in 64-bit mode by enabling Enhanced Protected Mode.On April 12, 2011, Microsoft released the first "IE10 Platform Preview", which runs only on Windows 7 and later. While the second platform preview was also available for Windows 7 and later, the next four platform previews ran only on Windows 8. The first preview release came four weeks after the final release of Internet Explorer 9. IE10 reached general availability on September 4, 2012 as a component of Windows Server 2012. A preview of IE10 for Windows 7 was made available for download in November 2012. On February 26, 2013, Internet Explorer 10 was made available for download to all Windows 7 SP1 users.

On January 12, 2016, support ended for IE10 on Windows operating systems capable of running Internet Explorer 11, due to new support policies dictating that only the newest version of IE available for a supported version of Windows will be supported. IE10 is only supported on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. While Internet Explorer 10 will reach end of support on January 31, 2020, IE 11 will be the only supported version of Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. IE 11 will be available for piloting starting Spring of 2019.

Internet Explorer 11

Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) is the eleventh and final version of the Internet Explorer web browser by Microsoft. It was officially released on October 17, 2013 for Windows 8.1 and on November 7, 2013 for Windows 7. The browser was also shipped with Windows 10 on its release on July 29, 2015, but Microsoft Edge is the default browser in this version of Windows. It is the default browser shipped with Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2019. After January 12, 2016, only the most recent version of Internet Explorer to be offered for installation on any given Windows operating system will continue to be supported with security updates, lasting until the end of the support lifecycle for that Windows operating system. On Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, only Internet Explorer 11 will receive security updates for the remainder of those Windows versions' support lifecycles.While Internet Explorer 10 will reach end of support on January 31, 2020, IE 11 will be the only supported version of Internet Explorer on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Embedded 8 Standard. IE 11 will be available for piloting starting Spring of 2019.

Internet Explorer 3

Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 (IE3) is a graphical web browser released on August 13, 1996 by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and on January 8, 1997 for Apple Mac OS (see IE for Mac). It began serious competition against Netscape Navigator in the first Browser war. It was Microsoft's first browser release with a major internal development component. It was the first more widely used version of Internet Explorer, although it did not surpass Netscape or become the browser with the most market share. During its tenure, IE market share went from roughly 3–9% in early 1996 to 20–30% by the end of 1997. In September 1997 it was superseded by Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.

IE3 was the first commercial browser with Cascading Style Sheets support. It introduced support for ActiveX controls, Java applets, inline multimedia, and the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS) system for content metadata. This version was the first version of Internet Explorer to use the blue 'e' logo, which later became a symbol of the browser. Version 3 came bundled with Internet Mail and News, NetMeeting, and an early version of the Windows Address Book, and was itself included with Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2. There were 16-bit and 32-bit versions depending on the OS.

This is the first version of Internet Explorer developed without Spyglass source code, but still used Spyglass technology, so the Spyglass licensing information remained in the program's documentation. In 1996 Microsoft said of its new browser "Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 adds many new features which are great for HTML authors and demonstrates our accelerating commitment to W3C HTML standards."Internet Explorer 3 is no longer supported, and is not available for download from Microsoft.

Internet Explorer 4

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 (IE4) is a graphical web browser that Microsoft released in October 1997, primarily for Microsoft Windows, but also with versions available for the classic Mac OS, Solaris, and HP-UX and marketed as "The Web the Way You Want It".It was one of the main participants of the first browser war. Its distribution methods and Windows integration were involved in the United States v. Microsoft Corp. case. It was superseded by Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 in March 1999. Version 4.0 was included with Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2.5 and 4.01 in Windows 98 First Edition (Windows 98 Second Edition would include IE 5.0), in addition the Internet Explorer layout engine Trident was introduced. It attained just over 60% market share by March 1999 when IE5 was released. In August 2001 when Internet Explorer 6 was released, IE4.x had dropped to 7% market share and IE5 had increased to 80%. IE4 market share dropped under 1% by 2004.

Internet Explorer 5

Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 (IE5) is a graphical web browser and one of the main participants of the first browser war. Its distribution methods and Windows integration were involved in the United States v. Microsoft Corp. case. It is included with Windows 98 SE and Windows ME and it is the last version of Internet Explorer for Windows 3.1x, Windows NT 3.x and Windows 95. Although Internet Explorer 5 ran only on Windows, its siblings Internet Explorer for Mac 5 and Internet Explorer for UNIX 5 supported Mac OS X, Solaris and HP-UX.IE5 presided over a large market share increase over Netscape Navigator between 1999 and 2001, and offered many advanced features for its day. In addition, it was compatible with the largest range of OSes of all the IE versions. However, support for many OSes quickly dropped off with later patches, and Windows XP and later Windows versions are not supported, because of inclusion of later IE versions. The 1999 review in PC World noted, "Credit the never-ending game of browser one-upsmanship that Netscape and Microsoft play. The new IE 5 trumps Netscape Communicator with smarter searching and accelerated browsing."IE5 attained over 50% market share by early 2000, taking the lead over other browser versions including IE4 and Netscape. 5.x versions attained over 80% market share by the release of IE6 in August 2001. 5.0x and 5.5 were surpassed by Internet Explorer 6.0, dropping it to the second most popular browser, with market share dropping to 34 percent by mid-2003. In addition, by early 2005 Firefox 1.0 had overtaken it in market share. Version 5.x market share fell below 1% by the end of 2006.Microsoft spent over US$100 million a year in the late 1990s, with over 1000 people working on IE by 1999 during the development of IE5.Internet Explorer 5.x rendering behavior lives on in other browsers' quirks modes. Internet Explorer 5 is no longer available for download from Microsoft. However, archived versions of the software can be found on various websites.

Internet Explorer 6

Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) is the sixth major revision of Internet Explorer, a web browser developed by Microsoft for Windows operating systems. It was released on August 27, 2001, shortly after the completion of Windows XP.

It is the default browser shipped with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, and was also made available for Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows ME. IE6 SP1 is the last version of Internet Explorer available for Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows ME. IE6 SP2+ and IE7 were only included (IE6 SP2+) in or available (IE7) for Windows XP SP2+.

Despite dominating market share (attaining a peak of 80% in mid-2004), this version of Internet Explorer has been widely criticized for its security issues and lack of support for modern web standards, making frequent appearances in "worst tech products of all time" lists, with PC World labeling it "the least secure software on the planet." In 2004, Mozilla finalised Firefox to rival IE6, and it became highly popular and acclaimed for its security, add-ons, speed and other modern features such as tabbed browsing. Microsoft planned to fix these issues in Internet Explorer 7 by June–August 2005, but it was delayed until an October 2006 release, over 5 years after IE6 debuted.

Because a substantial percentage of the web audience still used the outdated browser (especially in China), campaigns were established in the late-2000s to encourage users to upgrade to newer versions of Internet Explorer or switch to different browsers. Some websites dropped support for IE6 entirely, most notable of which was Google dropping support in some of its services in March 2010. According to Microsoft's modern.ie website, as of August 2015, 3.1% of users in China and less than 1% in other countries are using IE6.Internet Explorer 6 is the last version to be called Microsoft Internet Explorer before being rebranded as Windows Internet Explorer from Internet Explorer 7 onward.

Internet Explorer 7

Windows Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) (codenamed Rincon) is a web browser for Windows. It was released by Microsoft in October 2006. Internet Explorer 7 is part of a long line of versions of Internet Explorer and was the first major update to the browser in more than 5 years. It is the default browser in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and can replace Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 but unlike version 6, this version does not support Windows NT 4.0, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000, and Windows ME.

Some portions of the underlying architecture, including the rendering engine and security framework, have been improved. New features include tabbed browsing, page zooming, an integrated search box, a feed reader, better internationalization, and improved support for web standards, although it does not pass the Acid2 or Acid3 tests. Security enhancements include a phishing filter, stronger encryption on Windows Vista (256-bit from 128-bit in XP), and a "Delete browsing history" button to easily clear private data. It is also the first version of Internet Explorer which is branded and marketed under the name 'Windows', instead of 'Microsoft'. IE7 shipped as the default browser in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 and was offered as a replacement for Internet Explorer 6 for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP. IE7 was superseded by Internet Explorer 8 in March 2009.

Internet Explorer 8

Windows Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) is the eighth version of the Internet Explorer web browser by Microsoft, released on March 19, 2009. It is the successor to Internet Explorer 7, released in 2006, and is the default browser for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 operating systems.Internet Explorer 8 is the first version of IE to pass the Acid2 test, and the last of the major browsers to do so (In the later Acid3 Test, it only scores 24/100.). According to Microsoft, security, ease of use, and improvements in RSS, CSS, and Ajax support were its priorities for IE8.Internet Explorer 8 is the last version of Internet Explorer to run on Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP; the following version, Internet Explorer 9, works only on Windows Vista and later. Support for Internet Explorer 8 is bound to the lifecycle of the Windows version it is installed on as it is considered an OS component, thus it is unsupported on Windows XP due to the end of extended support for the latter in April 2014. Effective January 12, 2016, Internet Explorer 8 is no longer supported on any client or server version of Windows, due to new policies specifying that only the newest version of IE available for a supported version of Windows will be supported. However several Windows Embedded versions will remain supported until their respective EOL, unless otherwise specified.

Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9 or IE9 (officially Windows Internet Explorer 9) is the ninth version of the Internet Explorer web browser from Microsoft. It was released to the public on March 14, 2011. Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 as a major out-of-band version that was not tied to the release schedule of any particular version of Windows, unlike previous versions. It is the first version since Internet Explorer 2 not to be bundled with a Windows operating system, although some OEMs have installed it with Windows 7 on their PCs, as well as new Windows 7 laptops.The system requirements for Internet Explorer 9 are Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or Windows Server 2008 SP2 with the Platform Update. Windows XP and earlier are not supported. Internet Explorer 9 is the last version of Internet Explorer to be supported on Windows Vista. Both IA-32 and x64 builds are available.

Internet Explorer 9 supports several CSS 3 properties, embedded ICC v2 or v4 color profiles support via Windows Color System, and has improved JavaScript performance. It is the last of the five major web browsers to implement support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). It also features hardware-accelerated graphics rendering using Direct2D, hardware-accelerated text rendering using DirectWrite, hardware-accelerated video rendering using Media Foundation, imaging support provided by Windows Imaging Component, and high fidelity printing powered by the XML Paper Specification (XPS) print pipeline.

Internet Explorer 9 also supports the HTML5 video and audio tags and the Web Open Font Format.

Internet Explorer Mobile

Internet Explorer Mobile (formerly named Pocket Internet Explorer; commonly abbreviated to IE Mobile) is a discontinued mobile browser developed by Microsoft, based on versions of the Trident layout engine. IE Mobile comes loaded by default with Windows Phone and Windows CE. Later versions of Internet Explorer Mobile (since Windows Phone 8) are based on the desktop version of Internet Explorer. Older versions however, called Pocket Internet Explorer (found on Windows Phone 7 and Windows Mobile), are not based on the same layout engine.

Internet Explorer Mobile 11, the last version that was supported, is based on the desktop version of Internet Explorer 11 and came with Windows Phone 8.1. A new browser, Microsoft Edge replaced Internet Explorer Mobile in Windows 10 Mobile.

Internet Explorer for Mac OS X

Internet Explorer for Mac OS X (also referred to as Internet Explorer for Macintosh, Internet Explorer Macintosh Edition, Internet Explorer:mac or IE:mac) is an unsupported inactive proprietary web browser developed by Microsoft for the Macintosh platform. Initial versions were developed from the same code base as Internet Explorer for Windows. Later versions diverged, particularly with the release of version 5 which included the cutting edge, fault-tolerant and highly standards-compliant Tasman layout engine.

As a result of the five-year agreement between Apple and Microsoft in 1997, it was the default browser on the classic Mac OS and Mac OS X from 1998 until it was superseded by Apple's own Safari web browser in 2003 with the release of Mac OS X 10.3 "Panther".

On June 13, 2003, Microsoft announced that it was ceasing further development of Internet Explorer for Mac and the final update was released on July 11, 2003. The browser was not included in the default installation of Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" which was released on April 29, 2005. Microsoft stopped releases for the product on December 31, 2005 and they removed the application from their Macintosh downloads site on January 31, 2006. Microsoft recommended "that users migrate to more recent web browsing technologies such as Apple's Safari." An archived version of the download is available on Softonic.com, but only works on Mac OS X 10.6 and earlier versions, because of the discontinuation of Rosetta.

Internet Explorer version history

Internet Explorer (formerly Microsoft Internet Explorer and Windows Internet Explorer, commonly abbreviated IE or MSIE) is a series of graphical web browsers developed by Microsoft and included as part of the Microsoft Windows line of operating systems, starting in 1995.

The first version of Internet Explorer, (at that time named Microsoft Internet Explorer, later referred to as Internet Explorer 1) made its debut on August 17, 1995. It was a reworked version of Spyglass Mosaic, which Microsoft licensed from Spyglass Inc., like many other companies initiating browser development. It was first released as part of the add-on package Plus! for Windows 95 that year. Later versions were available as free downloads, or in service packs, and included in the OEM service releases of Windows 95 and later versions of Windows.

Originally Microsoft Internet Explorer only ran on Windows using Intel 80386 (IA-32) processor. Current versions also run on x64, 32-bit ARMv7, PowerPC and IA-64. Versions on Windows have supported MIPS, Alpha AXP and 16-bit and 32-bit x86 but currently support only 32-bit or 64-bit. A version exists for Xbox 360 called Internet Explorer for Xbox using PowerPC and an embedded OEM version called Pocket Internet Explorer, later rebranded Internet Explorer Mobile, which is currently based on Internet Explorer 9 and made for Windows Phone using ARMv7, Windows CE, and previously, based on Internet Explorer 7 for Windows Mobile. It remains in development alongside the desktop versions.

Internet Explorer has supported other operating systems with Internet Explorer for Mac (using Motorola 68020+, PowerPC) and Internet Explorer for UNIX (Solaris using SPARC and HP-UX using PA-RISC), which have been discontinued.

Since its first release, Microsoft has added features and technologies such as basic table display (in version 1.5); XMLHttpRequest (in version 5), which adds creation of dynamic web pages; and Internationalized Domain Names (in version 7), which allow Web sites to have native-language addresses with non-Latin characters. The browser has also received scrutiny throughout its development for use of third-party technology (such as the source code of Spyglass Mosaic, used without royalty in early versions) and security and privacy vulnerabilities, and both the United States and the European Union have alleged that integration of Internet Explorer with Windows has been to the detriment of other browsers.

The latest stable release has an interface allowing for use as both a desktop application, and as a Windows 8 application.

JScript

JScript is Microsoft's dialect of the ECMAScript standard that is used in Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

JScript is implemented as an Active Scripting engine. This means that it can be "plugged in" to OLE Automation applications that support Active Scripting, such as Internet Explorer, Active Server Pages, and Windows Script Host. It also means such applications can use multiple Active Scripting languages, e.g., JScript, VBScript or PerlScript.

JScript was first supported in the Internet Explorer 3.0 browser released in August 1996. Its most recent version is JScript 9.0, included in Internet Explorer 9.

JScript 10.0 is a separate dialect, also known as JScript .NET, which adds several new features from the abandoned fourth edition of the ECMAScript standard. It must be compiled for .NET Framework version 2 or version 4, but static type annotations are optional.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge is a web browser developed by Microsoft. It was first released for Windows 10 and Xbox One in 2015, then for Android and iOS in 2017.Edge includes integration with Cortana and has extensions hosted on the Microsoft Store. Unlike Internet Explorer, Edge does not support the legacy ActiveX and BHO technologies.

Originally built with Microsoft's own EdgeHTML and Chakra engines, Edge is currently being rebuilt as a Chromium-based browser, using the Blink and V8 engines, based upon WebKit. As part of this big change, Microsoft intends to add support for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and macOS.

Outlook Express

Outlook Express, formerly known as Microsoft Internet Mail and News, is a discontinued email and news client included with Internet Explorer versions 3.0 through to 6.0. As such, it was bundled with several versions of Microsoft Windows, from Windows 98 to Windows Server 2003, and was available for Windows 3.x, Windows NT 3.51, Windows 95, Mac System 7, Mac OS 8, and Mac OS 9. In Windows Vista, Outlook Express was superseded by Windows Mail.

Outlook Express is a different application from Microsoft Outlook. The two apps do not share a common codebase, but they do share a common architectural philosophy. The similar names lead many people to conclude incorrectly that Outlook Express is a stripped-down version of Microsoft Outlook. Outlook Express uses the Windows Address Book to store contact information and integrates tightly with it. On Windows XP, it also integrates with Windows Messenger.

Trident (software)

Trident (also known as MSHTML) is a proprietary browser engine for the Microsoft Windows version of Internet Explorer, developed by Microsoft.

It was first introduced with the release of Internet Explorer version 4.0 in October 1997; it has been steadily upgraded and remains in use today. For versions 7 and 8 of Internet Explorer, Microsoft made significant changes to the Trident layout engine to improve compliance with web standards and add support for new technologies.In the Microsoft Edge browser, Trident is superseded by its fork, EdgeHTML.

Web browser

A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a software application for accessing information on the World Wide Web. Each individual web page, image, and video is identified by a distinct Uniform Resource Locator (URL), enabling browsers to retrieve these resources from a web server and display them on the user's device.

A web browser is not the same thing as a search engine, though the two are often confused. For a user, a search engine is just a website, such as google.com, that stores searchable data about other websites. But to connect to a website's server and display its web pages, a user needs to have a web browser installed on their device.As of March 2019, more than 4.3 billion people are web browser users, around 55% of the world’s population. Their success is in part caused by their flexibility, due to their Turing-complete execution and powerful graphic capabilities.The most popular browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge.

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Overview
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