Internet Explorer (Windows) (Microsoft®)
= Index DOT Html/Css by Brian Wilson =

Index DOT Html: Main Index | Element Tree | Element Index | HTML Support History
Index DOT Css: Main Index | Property Index | CSS Support History | Browser History

Platforms Macintosh: OS8.1-9.x, OSX
PC: Win95/98/ME, 3.X, NT [Alpha, Intel, Mips, PPC], 2000/XP
Unix: Solaris, HP-UX
About the
The original IE 1.0 browser code was licensed from Spyglass (a commercial arm for the NCSA Mosaic browser work), but the Microsoft team quickly made a big mark on the original codebase. The first two product cycles occurred within a very short span of time, and allowed the browser to gain a little bit of ground against its main rival - Netscape.

Netscape, meanwhile, launched its ambitious 2.0 version, which introduced the browsing world to Javascript, frames, and Plug-in technology. For a while, it looked like Microsoft would forever play second-fiddle to catch up to the ever-dominant Netscape. This was when the infamous "Browser Wars" began in earnest... and despite the technological ground it needed to gain, Internet Explorer market share slowly grew.

Internet Explorer 3.0 brought the Microsoft browser MUCH closer to the bar that had been set by Netscape than ever before (integrating frames, plug-ins technology and a reverse-engineered version of Javascript) while also innovating in new areas (CSS and VBScript.) But, when the companies released their fourth generation browsers, it marked a decided turning point in the so-called "war." Internet Explorer 4.0 was a tremendous leapfrog ahead of Microsoft's previous browser version. Most importantly, IE 4.0 finally met (or exceeded) most of the capabilities of its rival's browser.

In the long intervening years since IE 4.0's release, Netscape took a long time to answer the challenge posed by IE. It took the Mozilla project more than 4 years to release its "1.0" version. Meanwhile, the market share for the Internet Explorer browser has finally succeeded in its goal of having dominant market share. It now commands (by many reports) approximately 80% of the browser market or more, with Netscape trailing far behind.

Will this trend continue? Will a new version of another browser rise to take IE's crown? Only time will tell...
The time line represented below is for the 32 bit versions. Other IE platforms, including 16-bit windows, do not ship simultaneously with the 32-bit versions. Consequently there have been some intermediate version numbers on other platforms that are not detailed here.
IE 1.5: Includes HTML Table support, but no IE 2.0 HTML extensions such as Marquees and BGSounds.
IE 2.1: Supports frames and complex tables but no Javascript, Java or ActiveX ability.
IE 2.5: The features of 2.1 plus Javascript support, but still no Java ability and ActiveX.
Over the course of its history, Microsoft has shipped various versions of IE as the default browser on its operating systems.

IE Version     Shipped With

1.0 Win 95 PLUS pack (not part of Win95 by default)
2.0Win NT4
3.0Win 95 OSR2
4.0Win 98
5.0Win 98 SE and Win 2000
5.5Win Millennium Edition (ME)
6.0Win XP Home/Pro
Beginning with IE version 3, the browser and its components became very tightly coupled with the Microsoft operating systems they were installed on (which was an issue in a major lawsuit against the company.)
This had several effects:
  • IE could not be uninstalled from the system
  • IE could only be upgraded to versions newer than the default version for an operating system
  • Multiple versions of IE could not exist at the same time on a system
In May, 2003 Microsoft stated that it would no longer produce new stand-alone versions of its browser, and that the browser would only be upgraded when installing new versions of its operating system. The implications of this are not trivial: users of any existing Microsoft OS will never be able to get an upgrade for their IE browser on their current systems.
The Future When the newest version of IE ("IE7"?) finally comes shipped with Microsoft's next operating system (currently code-named "Longhorn"), it will have been about 4 years since the release of IE6. Microsoft's browser is currently firmly entrenched as the dominant browser on the Windows platform now, but this long time-frame gives its competitors time to build some steam. The fact that IE will no longer receive new version updates on any existing operating system seems like a risky move, as many people as well as companies do not upgrade right away. This could give competitors a chance to build market share. Time will, of course, tell.

Version Released Features

1.0 Aug. 1995 This was the base release included in the Windows 95 PLUS pack product release.

2.0B1 Oct. 1995 The Beta release of 2.0 came very soon after the 1.0 version and added support for tables and several new HTML elements.
2.0 Nov. 1995 Version 2.0 Final Release
IE2 shipped with Windows NT 4.0

3.0A1 Mar. 1996 This limited release of 3.0 adds full support for the current HTML tables specification, frames and more HTML elements.
3.0B1 May. 1996 The first public release of 3.0 added scripting support (VB and Java) as well as more HTML support in addition to the features available in the first Alpha
3.0B2 Jul. 1996 The second beta release of 3.0 added support for Cascading Style Sheets and Java applets.
3.0 Aug. 1996 Version 3.0 Final Release
3.01 Oct. 1996 Version 3.0 Update Release. Among other things, fixed a major behavioral bug in style sheet margin treatment.
IE3 shipped with Windows 95 OSR2

4.0B1 Apr. 1997 Also known as the Platform Preview 1, this is the first release of a major update to the browser. Improved style sheet support and Microsoft's Document Object Model add many new attributes and display abilities to the browser.
4.0B2 Jul. 1997 Also known as the Platform Preview 2. MANY changes and additions in style sheet support, HTML capabilities and other things.
4.0 Oct. 1997 Version 4.0 Final Release. Many more changes and additions in style sheet support, HTML capabilities and other things.
4.01 Nov. 1997 Version 4.0 update Release.
IE4 shipped with Windows 98

5.0B1 Jun. 1998 Also known as the Developer Preview, this is a new major update to the browser. Support for more CSS2 features is a highlight of this release.
5.0B2 Nov. 1998 Also known as the Public Preview. Bi-directional text, rubies and direct XML/XSL support are new features included in this release. Also included are many new CSS properties.
5.0 Mar. 1999 Version 5.0 Final Release.
IE5 shipped with Windows 98SE and Windows 2000

5.5B1 Dec. 1999 Also known as the Developer Preview. A few changes to the implementation of frames and some new CSS properties are supported.
5.5 Jul. 2000 Version 5.5 Final Release.
IE5.5 shipped with Windows Millennium Edition (ME)

6.0B1 Mar. 2001 More CSS changes and bug fixes to be more spec-compliant.
6.0 Oct. 2001 Version 6.0 Final Release. Released in conjunction with Microsoft Windows XP.
6.0SP1 Sep. 2002 Security fix update.
IE6 shipped with Windows XP Home/Pro

May. 2003 Microsoft settles pending lawsuits with AOL/TimeWarner. Part of the settlement includes 750 Million US dollars plus an agreement for AOL to continue to use IE, royalty-free, as its default browser for the next 7 years.
May. 2003 Microsoft announces that IE will no longer be released as a stand-alone browser, rather it will only be released with new operating system releases.

Boring Copyright Stuff...