Farewell, IE

For those of you who missed the announcement, Microsoft has officially end-of-lifed Internet Explorer. Microsoft explained why the move was necessary, but let’s be honest, we all knew this was coming, and why: Because IE had long since fallen behind its competitors in terms of its implementation. First Chrome came out, then Firefox got better, and when even Safari (which is not the world’s most standards-friendly browser, let’s be hoenst) surpassed IE in terms of speed, it was pretty clear that Microsoft was going to have to take some serious action to bring their browser back up to speed.

So they did what any good software engineering group wants to do: Blow it all up and start over.

Personally, I will miss IE as a browser. So, if you will indulge me…

Eulogy to a browser

Farewell, IE. Life has taken you from us, and it is moot that we should remember you in your glory days and your prime.

You were a halfway-decent browser when I first got to know you in 1997, and while I didn’t like everything you did, you had some pretty decent features nestled in among the various HTML 3.2 and 4.0 elements I came to love and loathe.

You had ActiveX support, which was cool until it wasn’t cool anymore, you had DynamicHTML, which was cool until it was called AJAX, and even then you had one of the better XHR libraries/features, and you were one of the first to put XSL into the browser directly, which was cool until people accused you of “breaking” or “trying to embrace-extend-extinguish a standard” because the version of XSL you shipped wasn’t the final standard (which wasn’t yet done when you shipped).

You were at the centerpiece of Microsoft’s “Browsing your Desktop” strategy, before it was determined that having a Web component as a part of the operating system was a critical piece of monopolistic hegemony, and you had this crazy relationship with JavaScript–ahem, sorry, JScript–that had programmers never quite able to figure out if JScript was a “server” thing or a “client” thing or….

You served as the proving ground for Java applets, then when the Sun/Microsoft case hit its zenith, you were the first browser to lead the way in disabling support for applets. At first, all the anti-Microsoft folks hated you for having it (“embrace! extend! extinguish!"), then they hated you for NOT having it (“Not standards-compliant!"), before they just finally came to realize that they just hated you, period. Because, you know, “MICRO$OFT!”

Best of all, you spawned an entire generation of Web “bling”, in the form of the “This site best viewed in Internet Explorer” buttons from which we have yet to completely recover. (The button now reads “Chrome” or “Safari”, depending on which mobile device you’re using to read this page, by the way.)

Yes, IE, I will miss you.

But not very much.