The Evolution of Internet Browsers in Mid-Nineties

IBM WebExplorer – Released first in 1994

IBM launched its operating system OS/2 in the year 1987 to work on PCs. After seven years in 1994 IBM served its own web browser called WebExplorer a free download for OS/2 users. IBM bundled WebExplorer in OS/2 Bonus Pack from April 1995 and had collection of applications put together in a CD and included with Wrap.

WebExplorer had integration of mail and news and users were able to have a look at browsing history through WebMap. A links menu had all the links on the viewed webpage organized in a pull-down menu. This was used in conjunction with Voice Type voice navigation of IBM.

Internet Explorer – First Released in 1995

The popularity of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the current market leader was very less in the debut year 1995. For creation of most used browser on Earth, Microsoft got licensed Mosaic source code from Spyglass and was able to tweak its own browser.

In its official launch on August 24, 1995, IE1 was not incorporated with Windows 95 but was bundled in Windows 95 plus pack. In size it was 1MB and has got the basic features that one browser has. In the same year Microsoft released Internet Explorer 2 and was the first browser to support both the platforms Mac and Windows. IE2 though a basic browser was able to support Secure Socket Layer (SSL) cookies. It was available in twelve languages that  included English.

IE3 was the first major browsers that supported CSS partially. It was included Windows 95OSR2. IE3 dropped Spyglass source code and supported Java applets, Activex controls and Internet Mail. This browser could display JPEGs and GIFS. It could play MIDI sound files. ‘E’ logo identified IE3 browser as the first one.

In 1997, IE4 became the part of Windows 98 operating system. This version was the one to support DHTML. The new features included in this browsers were Channels, Active Desktop, Netshow, Frontpage Express, Web Publishing Wizard, Microsoft chat 2.0 and other multimedia functionality.

Further down IE5 was bundled with Win98SE. It supported bi-directional text. It improved its CSS support and introduced Compatibility Mode. The users now with this version could save web pages.

Before the released of Windows XP Microsoft released IE6 and included the updated browser in the Windows XP. The main focus in this version was on security and privacy. Also the fun stuff was included by the maker such as Auto Image Resize, Images Toolbar, media Bar and Print Preview. With the release of SP2 for XP a pop-up blocker was added.

As IE6 was dominating the market share, Microsoft didn’t paid much attention in browser development. Other browsers particularly Firefox from Mozilla gained grounds with its innovative features. It was in October 2206, Microsoft responded with its IE7 version. This version was not integrated with an OS. With this version tabbed browsing made its appearance.

The latest version of Internet Explorer is IE8. IE8 retains the appearance of IE7 but adds features like Accelerators, Webslices, InPrivate browsing, tab grouping and SmartScreen phishing filter. It is very standard version of IE till date. However it does not pass Acid3 test. The main focus on this browser was on enhancing JavaScript performance and hence IE8 is faster than any of the IE version.

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