The end of the explorer

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The end of the explorer

The author is the national news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Internet Explorer, IE, presented by Microsoft in August 1995, once dominated the market. IE started as the default web browser on Windows 95. When there were no smartphones or tablets, using IE was almost the only way to access the internet on a personal computer. In 2003, IE held a 93 percent share of web browsers.

In the age of smartphones, IE, which once had a prominent presence, declined as Chrome and Firefox came into the competition. While Microsoft continued upgrading its versions, IE didn’t get good reviews in terms of security or convenience, and users started to turn to other browsers. According to Stat Counter, a site analyzing web traffic, IE’s share in desktop browsers in Korea was merely 1.59 percent in May. A majority of users, or 71.25 percent, chose Google’s Chrome browser.

After 27 years, IE is disappearing into history. Microsoft decided to deactivate the service from June 15. When a user proceeds with the Windows 10 update, the IE application becomes inactive, and it is automatically switched to the new browser Edge. Edge is the default browser with enhanced security installed from Microsoft Windows 10. While Edge will also offer an IE mode for the users more familiar with IE until 2029, extensions like ActiveX will not be supported. That means the IE mode can hardly be used as a full browser.

Microsoft didn’t suddenly shut down the service. When Windows 10 and Edge were revealed in 2016, service suspension was to follow. In 2020, major functions such as collaborative work platform Teams and subscription-based office tool Microsoft 365 were disabled on IE, signaling an imminent service suspension. The gradual signs were given to minimize confusion and give users time to get ready.

Most private companies and institutions are well-prepared for the foretold change. But some public services and websites of public corporations in Korea can only be used on IE. Their homepages don’t even open on other browsers such as Chrome.

Some sites instruct visitors to use “IE mode” on Edge browser when the support for IE ends. They are asking visitors to swallow the inconvenience caused by their late response. It is embarrassing to say Korea is an internet powerhouse.
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