Internet Explorer Is Dead. Long Live The Web.
RIP Internet Explorer, which Microsoft is shutting down today.
In a fascinating historical irony, Microsoft could’ve controlled the web. But the web — which enabled cloud computing — was a threat to Windows. So Microsoft instead kept Internet Explorer slow. And Google, in response, built Chrome.
Why would Microsoft harm its own market-leading browser? Simple: If people could run programs on a fast browser, they wouldn’t have to use Windows machines. They could do the same stuff on Apple computers or web-only notebooks. Microsoft was making its money on Windows, so it decided to preserve it at all costs.
With Internet Explorer only operating with a skeleton crew, the door was open for others to build effective browsers and push the web forward. Mozilla led the way. But Google had programs like Docs, Sheets, Gmail, etc. that had to run on a fast web. It wasn’t satisfied with Firefox. It decided to build Chrome.
Chrome was an ironic nod to all the extra stuff on the browser — called “Chrome” — that Google’s browser didn’t have. Chrome prioritized speed over gimmicks. It worked. And eventually, it helped usher in the cloud era that Microsoft feared, leading to Microsoft’s “Lost Decade.”
Microsoft only recovered after it invested heavily in cloud, leading to Azure. The person who led that effort? A middle manager named Satya Nadella. The person who led Google’s Chrome project btw? A product manager named Sundar Pichai.
And there you have it.