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Google Search drops support for Internet Explorer from today

Google Search drops support for Internet Explorer from today
Photo Credit: Reuters
4 Oct, 2021

Internet Explorer has been dying a slow death for a few years now, but the final nail in the coffin may be coming from Google instead of Microsoft. According to Malte Ubl, a software engineer at Google, the Search giant is dropping support for Google Search for Internet Explorer (IE) from today. Which means that while users will be able to use Search on IE, they won’t get any of the features that Search gets from hereon.

“As a web developer this is one of the happiest announcements in a while: Google Search ended support for IE11 in its main product (you can still search but will get a fallback experience). I'm mostly posting this so you can send it to your boss. We did the Math. It is time,” Ubl wrote on Twitter.

Google ending support for Internet Explorer is significant for two reasons. First, the fact that Search is synonymous with the internet for a vast majority of users, especially in developing countries today. But more importantly, Google runs the Chrome Browser, which effectively killed IE’s dominance as the gateway to the internet. If Google pulled support from IE during its heydays, it would have quickly led to antitrust battles between the two behemoths.

IE itself was at the center of Big Tech’s first big antri-trust battles against governments. Microsoft launched IE in 1995 by licensing the code used to build Netscape Navigator, the then dominant web browser. Microsoft offered IE for free to all Windows users, killing Netscape which was being sold at $49 at the time. This is why almost every web browser today is available for free.

It led the US Department of Justice to launch an antitrust investigation against Microsoft, which sought to break up Microsoft. At the time, the judge said that Microsoft giving away Internet Explorer for free to Windows users was anti-competitive behaviour and the case eventually led to certain important restrictions.

Notably, Microsoft was no longer allowed to sign exclusive deals with PC manufacturers and software developers. It also led the company to open source Windows’ source code, allowing other developers to build software for the platform, essentially ending a big part of Microsoft’s dominance over the computing ecosystem around the world.