Internet Explorer: A Road Map to Success

Microsoft Internet Explorer the ancestor of all browsers has come long way from the year 1995 with the release of Windows 95 Plus! Pack. It’s was Internet Explorer 1.0 that made the world to go online which was first of its kind.

The root of Internet Explorer all the way back to 1987 by the browser named Mosaic. Mosaic is the web browser credited with popularizing the World Wide Web. It was also a client for earlier protocols such as FTP, NNTP, and gopher. Its clean, easily understood user interface, reliability, Windows port and simple installation all contributed to making it the application that opened up the Web to the general public.

Spyglass Mosaic’s codebase was then licensed to Microsoft and became the basis for their Internet Explorer.


Internet Explorer 1.0

Internet Explorer 1.0 was first released on August 16, 1995. The first version didn’t come with it Windows 95 OS. It came with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and OEM release of Windows 95. It was installed as part of the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Plus!, IE 1.0 was only slightly more than 1MB. You can just browse the Internet not much.  You could forget about accessing video or music files, reading newsgroups or even viewing graphics.

Internet Explorer 2.0


Internet Explorer 2.0 was released in the same year as Internet Explorer 1.0 i.e. November 22, 1995 and in April 1996 the Mac version. Yes you heard correct IE 2.0 was the first cross platform version. Windows 95, Windows NT, Apple Macintosh and Windows 3.1. It brought with it support for JavaScript, frames, cookies, giving web developers and designers tools to design secure and media-rich websites with tracking abilities.


Internet Explorer 3.0


Internet Explorer 3.0 was a ground breaking release with lot of new features like Internet Mail, News 1.0, displaying graphics and playing audio files etc. IE 3.0 was released on August 13, 1996 by Microsoft for Microsoft Windows and on January 8, 1997 for Apple Mac OS. Also IE 3.0 was the first developed version with Spyglass source code.

In the six hours of its release, there were more than 32,000 downloads. By the end of the first week, more than 1 million copies of the browser were downloaded. The last patch versions of Internet Explorer 3 supported 40-bit and 128-bit encryption, using Server Gated Cryptography.

128-bit encryption was available or included for these versions:


  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.03 for Windows NT 3.51 SP 1
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.02
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 for Macintosh

Internet Explorer 4.0


The Internet Explorer 4 Beta was released in April 1997, and Beta in July that year. Internet Explorer 4 was released to the public in September, 1997. IE 4.0 was available for Windows, Apple Mac OS, Solaris, and HP-UX and marketed as “The Web the Way You Want It

Internet came to life when menus expanded with a click and images could be dragged around. IE 4.0 also included an option to enable “Active Desktop”, which displayed Internet content on the desktop itself and was updated automatically as the content changed.


Internet Explorer 5.0


Internet Explorer 5.0 was released in March 1999 for Windows. Initial versions were available for Apple Macintosh, Sun Solaris, and HP-UX. IE5.x remains the last version for Windows 3.1x, Windows NT 3.x, and Windows 95. IE 5.0 helped ushered in a new era of e-commerce with its expanded programming capabilities.

This was the first browser to support bi-directional text, an important feature for international users whose languages are written from right to left. Other features were Web Page Complete, MHTML support, AutoComplete Feature, Ability to set a default HTML Editor, Internet Explorer Repair Tool Hotmail Integration etc.


Internet Explorer 6.0


Internet Explorer 6 was released on August 27, 2001. t 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 98 SE, Windows Me, and Windows 2000. IE6 was the most widely used web browser during its tenure, surpassing Internet Explorer 5.x.  The main features were Images Toolbar, Auto Image Resize, Print Preview and Media Bar

IE6 was well known for security issues. The security advisor site Secunia reported an outstanding 24 unpatched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer 6 as of February 9, 2010 and a total 144 security risks listed on the website as of February 11, 2010.  There were lot of security patches came through Windows update and lot of other patch through the Windows XP Service pack 2 releases. In March 2011 Microsoft asked web users to stop using IE6 in favor of newer versions of Internet Explorer. Microsoft  said newer versions could provide better privacy and security settings, tabbed browsing and improved speed etc.


Internet Explorer 7.0


Internet Explorer was released by Microsoft in October 2006. IE7 was shipped with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 also had the option to upgrade from IE6 on Windows XP and Server 2003. The rendering engine and security framework have been improved.

New features include tabbed browsing, page zooming, search box, a feed reader and support for web standards, stronger encryption, and a “delete browsing history” button to easily clear private data. It was the browser that truly delivered the Web 2.0 experience


Internet Explorer 8.0


Internet Explorer 8.0 is the latest full browser from Microsoft. The browser was released on March 19, 2009. IE 8.0 remains one of the most secure browsers on the market today, introducing revolutionary security and privacy features such as InPrivate Browsing and SmartScreen phishing protection etc. Internet Explorer 8 is the first version of IE to pass the Acid2 test. IE8 supports on Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and Windows 7 (32 and 64-bit edition)


  • Accelerators
  • Autocomplete changes
  • Automatic Tab crash recovery
  • Developer tools
  • Favorites Bar
  • Inline search within pages
  • InPrivate
  • Performance and stability
  • SmartScreen Filter
  • Suggested Sites
  • Web Slices and authenticated feeds
  • Zooming and image scaling
  • Per-Site ActiveX Controls

So this is the brief history of Internet Explorer 1.0 to Internet Explorer 8.0. Now the most awaited Beauty of Web i.e. Internet Explorer 9.0 final release is around the corner. IE9 betas and RC have been downloaded 36 million times.  Most sure all of them are eager to try it out the final. I know I am. Till then the History continues…

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