Light the beacons: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer’s reign as the most used internet browser is finally over.

Netscape LogoLaunched in 1995, Internet Explorer quickly rose to become a popular web browser and finally took the majority market share over Netscape Navigator in 1999 with IE 5.0. Netscape Navigator was later renamed to Netscape Communicator and continued to lose large percentages of it’s user base through the 2000s and was ultimately discontinued in 2008.
firefoxInternet Explorer spent the entire 2000s decade as the browser of choice for the majority of users around the world, but from the ashes of Netscape’s code base rose Microsft’s next great browser rival: FireFox. As a result of security enhancements, Microsoft decided to break IE off as a stand-alone application in Internet Explorer 7; a change that required many changes to the underlying architecture of the browser and brought forth a series of painful bugs. Despite all the bug fixes to follow, IE8 became the first browser fully compliant with Cascading Style Sheets 2.1 (CSS) and a leader in the W3C compliance standards over it’s competition.
chrome Meanwhile, Google launched it’s first beta release of the Chrome browser – tarnished by it’s own variety of launch bugs, primarily when dealing with JavaScript, which lost about half of the early adopters that downloaded the first version of the browser. Two years later, Google released stable versions of Chrome for Windows, Apple and Linux computers. In 2010, Chrome began to chip away Internet Explorer and Firefox’s marketshare due to it’s speed, simplicity, and support of newer technologies like HTML5. By the end of the year, Internet Explorer’s marketshare fell below 50% for the first time in a decade.

Microsoft had been building a browser with features to “enhance” the web as opposed to Google’s strategy of a simple and fast browser – a strategy that soon found Internet Explorer losing a large portion of users to Chrome and playing catch-up on functionality against not only Chrome but also FireFox and Opera.

In April 2014, Adobe Digital Index reported a marketshare of 31.8% for Google Chrome for all web browser usage as compared to Internet Explorer’s marketshare of 30.9% for the same month. The rise of Chrome is contributed largely to mobile browsing – an area where Internet Explorer has lacked in gaining users. Perhaps even a larger fall from previous glory is FireFox coming in 4th place for marketshare with 8.7% behind Apple’s Safari browser which has also benefited a great deal from mobile usage with a marketshare of 25%. It remains to be seen if iPhone and Apple computers will continue to drive the marketshare of Safari higher, but 2014’s numbers indicate that Chrome will continue to steal mobile users away from iOS users.

Regardless, that’s one hell of a run, Microsoft.