Internet Explorer is finally dead
I was working the night shift at a motel while going to school during the day, when my parents saw a help wanted ad for a local ISP. This was in the late 90s when public use of the Internet was starting to take off, and that sounded like a lot more fun than balancing books every night.
It was. Although I technically worked in tech support, at least at first, in a small shop everyone learns how to do everything. Soon I was learning networking, configuring routers, managing Linux systems, and doing full stack web development. At the time, that meant using Gimp to carve up images to shoehorn into HTML table layouts, and using Perl to write CGI scripts to process forms.
That meant having very strong opinions about web browsers, and the preferences tended to fall into two camps:
- If you used Windows and were new to the Internet, you liked Internet Explorer.
- Everyone else preferred Netscape Navigator.
For the next decade, Microsoft used every trick in their book to make Internet Explorer the standard web browser, even though it was very non-standard. And once they succeeded, they got bored and forgot to improve it further, at least until Google's Chrome started getting popular.
And through it all, my colleagues and I continued to try to make web pages that looked good and worked well in all browsers. That process looked like:
- Develop the web page, testing with Firefox or Chrome, until you got it working.
- Test it on the other browser to make sure it still worked.
- Find a creaky Windows box to test it with, see what broke because Internet Explorer didn't process standard HTML correctly, and tweak it until it looked mostly correctly in all 3 browsers.
- Go home and drink.
The Browser Wars were a real, serious struggle, and it wasn't at all obvious whether open technologies or proprietary vendors were going to win.