The evolution of Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer has evolved quite a bit over its 15-year history.

In a story, timeline, and photo gallery, CNET takes a look back at where IE has been and where it is headed as the company prepares to release a beta of IE9 next month.

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Photo by: Greg Shultz/TechRepublic / Caption by:

IE 2.0

The "About Internet Explorer" dialog box from Microsoft's second browser, IE 2.0.

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Internet Explorer joins Windows

Internet Explorer 3.0 was the first version of the browser to be directly included with Windows. It also added support for .jpg and .gif images and the playback of streaming audio without the need for a separate helper application.

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IE 4.0

Internet Explorer 4.0 was introduced in 1997, but entered the mainstream the next year with the release of Windows 98, which included the browser and support for Dynamic HTML (DHTML).

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IE5

Released in September 1998, IE5 expanded on the support for DHTML and allowed for greater personalization.

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The browser that won't die

Internet Explorer 6, seen here showing a CNET home page from August 16, 2010, has remained venerable despite being nearly 9 years old--a fact that has drawn much dismay from Web developers, browser rivals, and even Microsoft itself, which must support the browser as long as Windows XP remains under active support.

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Internet Explorer 7

IE7, Microsoft's first full overhaul of the browser since the 2001 debut of Windows XP, added a variety of features, including tabbed browsing.

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IE8, accelerated

IE8 added features such as Web slices and another, called Accelerators, seen here. The Accelerator feature is a separate context menu that appears when you highlight a word or phrase.

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A preview of IE9

Microsoft has released a "platform preview" of IE9, the next version of Internet Explorer.

Although it lacks a user interface--even a back button--the preview shows key features, including a faster JavaScript engine, improved HTML5 support as well as the ability to tap a computer's graphics chip to accelerate text and graphics.

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