Internet Explorer is Dead

Category: Browsers , Windows-10

Love it or hate it, Internet Explorer has been the king of browsers since it was introduced in 1995. So why is Microsoft planning to replace Internet Explorer? And what new features will its replacement offer? Read on to learn about the browser that Microsoft has code-named Spartan...

Code Name: Spartan Browser

Internet Explorer's market share peaked at over 95% in 2002 and 2003. Even today, with the rise of Firefox and Google Chrome as worthy competitors, IE commands a significant chunk of desktop browser real estate.

But the company has announced that Windows 10, its next-generation operating system for all platforms, will feature a brand new browser. IE will be shoved into a dusty corner, to be called forth only when needed for compatibility with older applications.

The replacement browser that Microsoft is building from scratch is code-named “Spartan,” and its early iterations have some interesting features. But why is Redmond dropping the IE brand and browser? The answer is comprised equally of past and future.

Spartan browser

In its 20 years of desktop dominance, Internet Explorer has acquired a lot of enemies. Many of them are hackers who focus on the biggest target as they search for vulnerabilities and write malware to exploit them. Others are supporters of global HTML standards which make a Web designer’s life much easier. Internet Explorer is notorious for ignoring standards or “extending” them in ways no one else does, necessitating multiple versions or special code for every Web page, to ensure they render correctly on both IE and other standards-compliant browsers.

Many users just don’t like the way IE looks, feels, and acts. So Microsoft, while positioning Windows 10 as a complete break with Windows past, hopes to escape the baggage of Internet Explorer at the same time. Spartan, or whatever it ends up being called, will be the new, cool kid on the block. That will undoubtedly attract some users who in recent years have fled IE for Firefox or Chrome.

Spartan: Digging Deeper

Want to try the new Spartan browser? You'll have to install the Windows 10 Technical Preview first. You can find a link for that, along with some of the highlights of what's coming in Windows 10, in my article Good News: Windows 10 is Coming!

The future is in mobile technology, and there Internet Explorer is barely visible. Less than 1% of mobile browsers are IE. When mobile devices are added to desktops, IE’s usage share plummets to just over 13%, limping along with Firefox and Safari far behind Google Chrome’s 50% overall share.

Part of IE’s poor mobile showing is due to Microsoft’s refusal to make IE versions for Android or iOS; The market share of "Windows Phone 8," Microsoft's mobile operating system, will be only 2.7% this year, according to projections. But even on Windows Phone devices, other browsers are easier to navigate and use fewer resources than Internet Explorer.

“Spartan” is being designed from the ground up, with none of Internet Explorer’s legacy reputational or technical baggage. The next Microsoft browser looks more like its competition, which lowers the learning curve of users who might be persuaded to switch. The overall design is cleaner, with monochrome line-art icons, rectangular tabs, and a flat, easily navigated layout.

One curiosity is the larger percentage of screen real estate devoted to the browser as opposed to Web content. Internet Explorer 11 provides more vertical space to content than Spartan does. It remains to be seen if this is a mistake or if users appreciate not having to squint at the address bar.

Microsoft is promoting three features in Spartan. The first, “reading mode,” strips distracting images and reformats text to make Web content a more book-like read. This isn’t new; other browsers, including IE 11, have a reading mode.

Spartan also supports “annotation,” the ability to add handwritten notes to a Web page using a pen or mouse. Annotated pages can be shared with others. It’s not clear why one would wish to do this, or who would welcome shared annotations.

Microsoft is banking heavily on Spartan’s third key feature: Cortana integration. Powered by the Bing search engine, Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri or Google Knowledge Graph. Type words in Spartan’s search bar and Cortana presents “structured” information about your query. You can also activate an “Ask Cortana” mode to interact with this personal digital assistant.

While Spartan will supplant Internet Explorer, the venerable browser will not disappear completely from Windows 10. IE will ship with the new operating system to provide support for legacy Web applications typically found in enterprises. But Microsoft intends Spartan to be its browser of the future.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Internet Explorer is Dead"

(See all 29 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

03 Apr 2015

IE has been 'dead to me' since I found Chrome, and Microsoft is going to have to somehow prove to me Spartan is better then Chrome before I'd go back to something from Microsoft.

Posted by:

Ezra Tita
03 Apr 2015

I have faith in Satya Nadella that he will not launch a 'half baked' product as Ballmer was known for (Vista, W8 and Zune).

Posted by:

03 Apr 2015

window??? now let me say Microsoft are thief they only think to make billions of profit but cannot yet come up with a very good window ,they flow the market with different formula 7,8, vista,10 etc but they did have window XP or was the best but to make more money they stop it??has far i am concern they should be sue for misleading the consumer .since i migrated to window 7 with a brand
new LAPTOP did have all the problems in the world slow ,black screen etc never ever had that problem with XP.

Posted by:

Lloyd Collins
03 Apr 2015

I like IE, and use it more than Google Chrome. Google says that their Browser is faster and more stable. Well...IE is faster and more stable to me. Google used to be, I just don't know what happened. Firefox, bloated resource hog, won't ever use it again. Here's hoping Spartan is better and I won't need Chrome.

Posted by:

03 Apr 2015

Sorry Bob, Patrick is correct. American "English" seems to be going to pot with apostrophes being put before an 's' to turn the singular into the plural form. Try the Oxford English Dictionary.

Posted by:

Linda McDonald
03 Apr 2015

Love Your site Bob & I have definitely learned a lot, when I have time to read everything! Please, I'm confused, when is the change supposed to happen? I have Windows 7 with ie11. Will this change effect me?

Posted by:

03 Apr 2015

Microsoft's XP was the best software they ever created. Slowly they went down the tubes, first with Vista, Window's 7 (is so so), Windows 8 and 8.1, you can have them both. I am wondering what kind of disaster they are going to come up with next with Windows 10 and the same applies to Spartan.

Posted by:

dave J
04 Apr 2015


OK Bob, but remember Webster has been dead for years now.............grin.......jus pullin' yor laig.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

Bob - what is going on? You always were in sync with me in your viewpoints, but now you've made a drastic change in your value system: it strted with the all-in-one, how can you logically recommend such an "all-your-eggs-in-one-basket" hazard? And now, and now.. you really can't think when it would be useful to be able to annotate a page in a browser? I think I must be misreading.. but I'm so shocked I can't force myself to risk reading it again only to find out that there is no error, and that is what you wrote.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Such drama! So you don't like all-in-one printers? Fine... I have had mine for 8 years, and it's still going strong. And if you enjoy annotating web pages, go for it. I guess I'm just not an annotater.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

Thank you for this information. I am not a fan of MS because I feel they are after the money - first - customer satisfaction comes last. Microsoft can go P up o a weed.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

#1-"comprises" is correct
#2-I will try Win 10 if available for Win 7, however, I hope they allow an escape hatch back to Win 7, (I usually go back and forth a few times before I stick to a new windows).

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

Thanks for the new info, Bob. I've used IE from day one. Never had any issues. Tried Chrome several times - resource hog - hated it! I use firefox now and then and I like how the bookmarking works. The single best feature of IE is "file-send-page/link by e-mail" use this all the time! ymmv

Posted by:

Bob van Ruyssevelt
04 Apr 2015

I am frustrated by the incompatibility of different browsers with some web sites. I have been forced to change to Google Chrome in order to be able to use the website of my phone and mobile data provider and to use my favourite forums.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

Catchy name, Spartan, but I suspect it might become known as Trojan. :)

Posted by:

Stuart Whiteside
04 Apr 2015

If the address bar in Spartan is as hard for me to read as the current Chrome, it ain't for me.

Posted by:

04 Apr 2015

Hi Bob, sorry to press the point but "comprise" as you have used it here is clearly indicated by Webster's as problematic, especially considering the word's etymology: to "consist of," so that you are in effect saying "The answer consists of equally of past and future." Note the awkward redundancy of the extra of.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by:

05 Apr 2015

If previous experience of MS Windows product launches is anything to go by, Spartan (note - the name of a popular type of apple!) will be buggy, unfinished, launched before fully developed and replaced before it is ever working correctly.

Footnote - comprises. Webster's is an American English dictionary and thus not reliable for the English language, especially when it accepts current American grammatical errors as correct. Sorry, rant over!

Posted by:

05 Apr 2015

So, Microsoft is getting rid of IE and using Spartan instead. My windows computer finally died, and I bought an Apple. So far, I'm satisfied with Safari.

Posted by:

07 Apr 2015

Hi Bob,
thanks for the great content you keep putting out on a regular basis. I really enjoy your posts.

Personally, I think Microsoft is planning on a replacement for IE because IE has dramatically lost market share over the last few years. While their share was 65.4% in Jan 09, it fell to 19.3% by January this year. At the same time, Chrome rose from 1.4% to 48.1%, surpassing IE by May 2012.

Posted by:

24 Aug 2015

Give me IE anyday over Chrome. Chrome's good for certain things, e.g., putting photos onto Google Pictures, but it really hogs the machine otherwise.

When I tried Chrome as default browser, I found it forever updating itself. A peek inside Task Manager often revealed it with 12 programs on the go, preventing anything else from getting a look in.

Anyone using an HTML extractor, quickly discovers what's going on inside Chrome. Trying to copy the HTML content from a Wikipedia page, say, one finds absolutely every line or part-line surrounded with an HTML tag with a pointlessly huge CSS style element running into 1000s of characters. The resultant HTML is simply colossal.

No such nonsense with IE. Furthemore, you can find things in the IE Temporary Internet Files. They don't become renamed to something totally meaningless, as happens with Chrome and Firefox.

It's pleasing to see IE's going to remain ... usable when necessary.

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