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As much as people do not like Internet Explorer these days, for good reason, there are actually a lot of things, that Internet Explorer brought to the web. Yes there was the browser wars with Netscape/Mozilla back in the 90s/early 2000s and maybe not everything was fair play, but regardless, here is the list of things that Internet Explorer brought to the web.

  • The <div /> tag. Originally, there was a <layer /> tag from Netscape and Microsoft fought back with <div />.
  • innerHTML and outerHTML
  • AJAX. Microsoft had an ActiveX component called MSXML that helped start AJAX. Back then it was XML being used, not JSON, but regardless, we have them to thank for it. Also, if you're curious who coined the term AJAX, that would be Jesse James Garrett. Later on, other browsers would follow suit by creating the XMLHTTPRequest object.

Here's some tweets of mine that you may find interesting about Internet Explorer


Another IE invention was contenteditable, which lies at the heart of all the in-page WYSIWYG editors we use today.


Wow, I never knew these things before but doing all these things Microsoft should have focused on Internet Explorer more instead of bringing up the Edge


The problem eventually with IE, was partly the fault of Web Authors. A substantial proportion of them, in the early 2000s wrote their code with a big switch in it. If the browser was IE, the code did one thing accounting for IE's non-standard behaviour, otherwise the browser was assumed to be standards compliant and did something else. All manner of tricks were used to detect whether the browser was IE.

In many cases corporate web apps were written that only worked in IE. After all the web was IE, right?

Which was fine until Microsoft tried to make IE standards compliant. Because the web pages were determined to detect that it was IE and use IE's old, incompatible behaviour. So IE ended up with masses of code trying to support both the standards behaviour and the old behaviour, with innumerable tricks to fool the web pages into thinking that it wasn't IE, except for those web apps that needed to think that it was IE. Which made maintenance of the codebase a nightmare. If the web authors had assumed standards behaviour first and adapted to IE's behaviour only as necessary, then the codebase could have been cleaned up as it improved.

Edge was an attempt to clean up the code base by stopping support for all that old IE behaviour code. Which would have been fine if corporate users hadn't been determined to hang on to IE to support all their applications that only worked with the old IE behaviour.

The other issue was, updating the browser. Everyone is used to browsers auto-updating these days, but this did not used to be the case. I am not positive, but I think Mozilla's browser, before it became FireFox, was the first browser to do this.

In the case of Internet Explorer (IE), not only did it not update, but any updates were tied to operating system updates. So not only did it not auto-update, but in the case of some older versions of Windows, you could not even install a newer version of IE. Edge, as mentioned was meant to clean this up, but even in the case of Edge, it could only run on Windows 7 or greater, so even though there was a newer browser, so many users were still stuck on versions on IE that were tied to the version of their operating system.

This is what brought on the push for the free Windows 10 upgrade a while back. They wanted to get everyone on the same version of Windows to hopefully solve that issue.

And now, they've made Edge Chromium based, so it can be installed on all Windows versions that Chromium supports.

And for those interested in reading about a different kind of browser war, check out one of my more recent posts below. 👇🏻


My misunderstanding with IE came from how it integrated itself in the Windows File Explorer (by using the address bar, the left panel...)
The combination of the two made me think how MS was already - I mean years ago, delivering an OS within a browser and vice versa. Make sense? Chromebook?


I would define it as dinosaur in the world of browsers.


But a one with no wings and claws 😂😂


Internet Explorer - A great browser to have if you need to test for compatibility with browsers that are years behind the cutting edge.

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