The following is a history of the Internet Explorer graphical web browser from Microsoft developed over 8 major software versions including 1.0 (1995), 2.0 (1995), 3.0 (1996), 4.0 (1997), 5.0 (1999), 6.0 (2001), 7.0 (2006), and 8.0 (2008). Internet Explorer has supported Microsoft Windows, but some versions also had a Apple Macintosh version, see Internet Explorer for Mac. For the UNIX version, see Internet Explorer for UNIX
Version 4 released in September 1997, was shipped with the latest beta version of Windows 98 and was modified to integrate more closely with Microsoft Windows. It included an option to enable "Active Desktop" which displayed World Wide Web content on the desktop itself and was updated automatically as the content changed. The user could select other pages for use as Active Desktops as well. "Active Channel" technology was also introduced to automatically obtain information updates from websites. The technology was based on an XML standard known as Channel Definition Format (CDF), which predated the currently used web syndication formats like RSS. This version was designed to work on Windows 95, Windows 98, and Windows NT, and could be downloaded from the Internet, free of charge. It supported Dynamic HTML (DHTML). Outlook Express 4.0 also came integrated into the browser and replaced the aging Microsoft Internet Mail & News product that was released with previous versions. Version 5 came out in March 1999, following Microsoft's release of Internet Explorer 5.0 Beta versions in late 1998 . Bi-directional text, ruby text and direct XML/XSLT support were included in this release, along with enhanced support for CSS Level 1 and 2. The actual release of Internet Explorer 5 happened in three stages. Firstly, a Developer Preview was released in June 1998 (5.0B1), and then a Public Preview was released in November 1998 (5.0B2). Then in March 1999 the final release was released (5.0). In September it was released with Windows 98. Version 5.0 was the last one to be released for Windows 3.1x or Windows NT 3.x. Internet Explorer 5.5 was later released for Windows Me in July 2000, and included many bug fixes and security patches. Version 5.5 was the last to have Compatibility Mode, which allowed Internet Explorer 4 to be run side by side with the 5.x. With IE6, there was a quirks mode that could be triggered to make it behave like IE5.5 Version 6 was released with Windows XP in August 27, 2001. It mainly focused on privacy and security features, as they had become customer priorities. Microsoft implemented tools that support P3P, a technology under development by the W3C.
In a legal case brought by the US Department of Justice and twenty U.S. states, Microsoft was accused of breaking an earlier consent decree, by bundling Internet Explorer with its operating system software. The department took issue with Microsoft's contract with OEM computer manufacturers that bound the manufacturers to include Internet Explorer with the copies of Microsoft Windows they installed on systems they shipped. Allegedly, it would not allow the manufacturer to put an icon for any other web browser on the default desktop in place of Internet Explorer. Microsoft maintained that integration of its web browser into its operating system was in the interests of consumers.
Microsoft asserted in court that IE was integrated with Windows 98, and that Windows 98 could not be made to operate without it. Australian computer scientist Shane Brooks later demonstrated that Windows 98 could in fact run with IE files removed. Brooks went on to develop software designed to customize Windows by removing "undesired components", which is now known as LitePC Microsoft has claimed that the software did not remove all components of Internet Explorer, leaving many dynamic link library files behind.
On April 3, 2000, Judge Jackson issued his findings of fact that Microsoft had abused its monopoly position by attempting to "dissuade Netscape from developing Navigator as a platform", that it "withheld crucial technical information", and attempted to reduce Navigator's usage share by "giving Internet Explorer away and rewarding firms that helped build its usage share" and "excluding Navigator from important distribution channels".
Jackson also released a remedy that suggested Microsoft should be broken up into two companies. This remedy was overturned on appeal, amidst charges that Jackson had revealed a bias against Microsoft in communication with reporters. The findings of fact that Microsoft had broken the law, however, were upheld. Seven months later, the Department of Justice agreed on a settlement agreement with Microsoft. As of 2004, although nineteen states have agreed to the settlement, Massachusetts is still holding out.
|Market Share for February, 2005|
|IE4 - .07%|
|IE5 - 6.17%|
|IE6 - 82.79%|
In a May 7, 2003 Microsoft online chat, Brian Countryman, Internet Explorer Program Manager, declared that on Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer would cease to be distributed separately from the operating system (IE 6 being the last standalone version); it would, however, be continued as a part of the evolution of the operating system, with updates coming bundled in operating system upgrades. Thus, Internet Explorer and Windows itself would be kept more in sync. However, a new standalone version, IE 7 was released since then.
New feature work did continue in 2003 during the development of Windows Vista; a preview release was released at the Professional Developers Conference in October 2003 which contained an updated Internet Explorer with a version number of 6.05. New features noted by reviewers included a Download Manager, pop-up blocker, add-on manager and a tool to clear browing history. With the exception of the download manager, which was eventually discarded, these features all appeared in builds of Internet Explorer included with preview builds of Windows XP Service Pack 2 a few months later.
Windows XP Service Pack 2, which was released in August 2004 after a number of delays, also contained a number of security-related fixes, new restrictions on code execution, and user interface elements that aimed to better protect the user from malware. One notable user interface element that was introduced was the "information bar". Tony Schriner, a developer on the Internet Explorer team, explained that the information bar was introduced to reduce the possibility that the user might mis-click and allow the installation of software they did not intend, as well as to simply reduce the number of pop-ups displayed to the user. Most reviews of this release focused on the addition of the pop-up blocker, as it had been seen as a major omission at a time when pop-up ads had become a major source of irritation for web users.
|Internet Explorer, All Versions||55.9%|
|Internet Explorer 5.x||1.7%|
|Internet Explorer 6.x||33.2%|
|Internet Explorer 7.x||21.0%|
By 2006 Beta versions of Version 7.0 were released, and version 7 was released that October (the same month as Firefox 2.0). Internet Explorer was renamed Windows Internet Explorer, as part of Microsoft's rebranding of component names that are included with Windows. It was available as part of Windows Vista, and as a separate download via Microsoft Update for Windows XP with Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1. Internet Explorer 7 can also be downloaded directly from Microsoft's website. Large amounts of the underlying architecture, including the rendering engine and security framework, have been completely overhauled. Partly as a result of security enhancements, the browser is a stand-alone application, rather than integrated with the Windows shell, and is no longer capable of acting as a file browser. The first security advisory was posted only one day after the day of release, but it turned out to be a security problem in Outlook Express, not in Internet Explorer 7. The first vulnerability exclusive to Internet Explorer 7 was posted after 6 days. By 2008 Version 8.0 was in development, with the first public beta release having been released on March 5, 2008. IE8 offered better support for web standards than previous versions, with plans for improved support for RSS, CSS, and Ajax, as well as full compliance for Cascading Style Sheets 2.1. It is also the first version to successfully pass the Acid2 test. In addition, Internet Explorer 8 includes new features such as WebSlices and an improved phishing filter.
|Red||Old release; unsupported|
|Yellow||Old release; supported|
|Major version||Minor version||Release date||Significant changes||Shipped with|
|Version 1||1.0||August 1995||Initial release.||Plus! for Windows 95|
|1.5||January 1996||Compatible with Windows NT 3.5|
|Version 2||2.0 Beta||October 1995||Support of HTML tables and other elements.|
|2.0||November 1995||SSL, cookies, VRML, and Internet newsgroups.||Windows NT 4.0 Windows 95 OSR1 Internet Starter Kit|
|2.01||Unknown||Bug fix release.|
|Version 3||3.0 Alpha 1||March 1996||Improved support of HTML tables, frames, and other elements.|
|3.0 Alpha 2||May 1996||Support of VBScript and JScript.|
|3.0 Beta 2||July 1996||Support of CSS and Java.|
|3.0||August 1996||Final release.||Windows 95 OSR 2|
|3.01||October 1996||Bug fix release.|
|3.02||March 1997||Bug fix release.|
|3.03||Unknown||Bug fix release.|
|Version 4||4.0 Beta 1||April 1997||Improved support of CSS and Microsoft DOM.|
|4.0 Beta 2||July 1997||Improved support of HTML and CSS.|
|4.0||September 1997||Improved support of HTML and CSS.||Windows 95 OSR 2.5|
|4.01||November 1997||Bug fix release.||Windows 98|
|Version 5||5.0 Beta 1||June 1998||Support of more CSS2 features.|
|5.0 Beta 2||November 1998||Support of bi-directional text, ruby character, XML/XSL and more CSS properties.|
|5.0||March 1999||Final release. Last version supported on Windows 3.x and Windows NT 3.x.||Windows 98 SE|
|5.01||November 1999||Bug fix release.||Windows 2000|
|5.5 Beta 1||December 1999||Support of more CSS properties. Minor changes to support of frames.|
|5.5||July 2000||Final release. Last version supported on Windows 95.||Windows Me|
|5.6||August 2000||Released for Windows Whistler build 2257.||Windows Whistler|
|Version 6||6.0 Beta 1||March 2001||More CSS changes and bug fixes to be more W3C-compliant.|
|6.0||August 27, 2001||Final release.||Windows XP|
|6.0 SP1||September 9, 2002||Vulnerability patch. Last version supported on Windows NT 4.0, 98, 2000 or Me.||Windows XP SP1|
|6.0 SV1 "SP2"||August 25, 2004||Vulnerability patch. Popup/ActiveX blocker. Add-on manager.||Windows XP SP2 Windows Server 2003 SP1|
|Version 7||7.0 Beta 1||July 27, 2005||Support of PNG alpha channel. CSS bug fixes. Tabbed browsing.||Windows Vista Beta 1|
|7.0 Beta 2 Preview||January 31, 2006||More CSS fixes. RSS platform integration. New UI. Quick Tabs.|
|7.0 Beta 2||April 24, 2006||Feature complete. More CSS fixes. Application compatibility fixes.|
|7.0 Beta 3||June 29, 2006||Fixes rendering issues for CSS.|
|7.0 RC 1||August 24, 2006||Improvements in performance, stability, security, application compatibility and final CSS adjustments.|
|7.0||October 18, 2006||Final and current release.||Windows Vista|
|Version 8||8.0 Beta 1||March 5 2008||CSS 2.1, Contextual Services|
|8.0 Beta 2||August 27 2008|