Internet trends come and go, but there are still some good original components with a lot of staying power. Cue Internet Explorer, one of the first internet browsers of the modern era. It was first introduced in 1995 and was the most widely used in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As people used the internet more, Microsoft introduced more and more functions to the browser that were considered cutting edge technology at the time. Flat web pages turned into more exciting, detailed experiences that made searching the web more fun and allowed users to connect in more ways than we thought possible. Users and developers alike considered Internet Explorer to be the top example of what technology can do and the foundation of what it means to be truly innovative. While the internet has evolved and a lot of people have started using one of the large numbers of internet browsers available today, Internet Explorer still has die-hard fans all over the globe.
Pre-installed on most PCs
The most streamlined browser for the casual internet user
If you have a computer running the Windows OS, you more than likely have a version of Internet Explorer already installed. On Windows 10, the most recent version of the browser is Internet Explorer 11. The little blue 'e' that you'll see in your taskbar isn't Explorer though, it's Microsoft Edge, the newest browser from Microsoft that was first released in 2015. Edge is the default browser that will come up when you first use the internet on the Windows OS. In order to get to Internet Explorer, you'll need to search for it in the task bar.
The first thing that happens when you open the browser is a window pops up prompting you to properly set it up. You can either choose the recommended settings or opt-out and customize the settings your own way. Using the recommended settings mostly affects the security and compatibility of your browser by enabling Windows Defender SmartScreen. SmartScreen is a component that works to protect you from harmful websites by relaying them to Microsoft to be looked over. More on privacy later.
After the quick setup, you'll be taken to the MSN homepage. On this page you can view the latest news headlines, see world news, news specifically about your city and more. At the top of the page there are icons directing you to other Microsoft software and apps, like the Microsoft store, Outlook, One Drive, and the Microsoft Office Suite. Entering anything into the MSN search bar redirects you to the Bing search engine. The interface is incredibly simple, with four icons to the top right taking you to menus for favorites and history, an icon for tools, one for settings, and one to bring you back to the home page. There is no clutter and tabs are quite thin - even more so than some competitors.
There are a few features that we find really cool, and one of our favorites is the ability to pin websites. If there's a website that you visit frequently, just drag the tab down to the task bar and bam - the website is pinned! From then on, clicking on the icon brings up the page in Internet Explorer and changes the tab's appearance - navigational arrows are now the color of the site's icon (like light blue for Twitter or pink for Instagram) and the logo sits on the far left of the address bar.
Back to privacy, which is at the top of our list of important things to know about browsers. Microsoft is very transparent about security and the data that they collect from users. Depending on your settings, Microsoft does store data about the products and features that you use through their services. Some of this data is required by law, and some of it is taken in exchange for the use of their products, but most times this is basic information like your name and email address. If you're uncomfortable with this knowledge, there are ways to restrict what data is collected by visiting Microsoft's opt-out page and clearing some of what you'll find on the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard, like your location data and search history.
Where can you run this program?
You can run Internet Explorer on any PC that runs Windows. It was previously available for some video game consoles, but is not available on Android and iOS devices.
Is there a better alternative?
This version of Internet Explorer is not the same one from ten years ago. When people think of this browser, they think that it's outdated, slow, and boring to look at. Truthfully, IE11 is a fresh breath of air compared to what it used to be. With that said, if you're someone who likes the convenience of having a large extension catalogue, IE may not be what you're looking for. In that case, Chrome would be ideal as they have an extension for nearly anything that you can think of. If you have a Mac, Safari is great for all of your basic needs as well. The user who just wants to browse the web, do some shopping, and watch YouTube will have no problem with Internet Explorer.
Internet Explorer is a basic, decent browser. No new-fangled add-ons or extensions, no bells and whistles. If we could describe it in one word, ‘standard’ would be it. It can handle searches, bookmarking, videos at a decent resolution, and some light browser games. Don't look to do too much with this browser besides surface activities like researching, reading, and some occasional downloading of small files.
Should you download it?
You should download Internet Explorer if you're a very basic internet user. If you prefer paper books to Kindles, and writing letters to texting, this browser will be up your alley. You can watch videos, but after testing a few on YouTube, switching to another tab and then back again would cause the browser to crash. Avoid websites with a lot of ads and graphics, as those will make IE crash as well. This browser has come a long way in terms of speed with most sites loading in about three seconds or less. With that said, there are more things that you can't do than what you can, especially if you're trying this browser out after using others like Firefox or Chrome. No extensions, no heavy downloading, and playing browser games is nearly impossible for an extended amount of time.