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Internet

Exploring Microsoft's evolution

Internet Explorer's fate reflects vast changes in Microsoft's internal and external strategies required to address the whims of the Internet.

The many turns of Internet Explorer's fate reflect vast changes in Microsoft's internal and external strategies required to address the whims of the Internet market.

IE's coming of age
Aug
1995
IE 1.0 launches. Microsoft vows to wrest hold of the browser market from Netscape and its Navigator software. Netscape debuts on Wall Street a triumphant initial public offering and a mind-boggling stock rise.
Nov
1995
IE 2.0 launches with newsgroup reader, improved support for tables, HTML, and Secure Sockets Layer.
Feb
1996
Microsoft announces a corporate reorganization intended to hone its attack on the Internet market. Netscape and other Net start-ups loom as potential threats to Microsoft's industry-dominating Windows operating system.
Mar
1996
America Online surprises the industry by choosing IE over Navigator for its 5 million members. The company years later will testify that it did so under threat of losing its coveted place on the Windows desktop.
Aug
1996
IE 3.0 launches, bringing Microsoft's technology closer to par on basic features. These include HTML 3.2, Java support, and an email reader. Microsoft introduces Web searching through the browser interface, a still-evolving feature. IE 3.0 supports ActiveX and Cascading Style Sheets, and features NetMeeting conferencing software.
Sep
1996
Market share studies show IE rapidly gaining on Netscape software, though still far behind. In one survey, IE doubled its share to 8 percent. In another, it doubled its share to nearly 30 percent.
Sep
1997
Microsoft launches IE 4.0, the browser destined to be integrated with the Windows operating system. With the browsers equivalent in basic functions, Microsoft begins adding new features like push content channels and its Active Desktop, which makes PC files available through the browser window.

The Justice Department asks a federal court to hold Microsoft in civil contempt, alleging that Microsoft's bundling of IE with Windows 95 violates terms of a 1995 antitrust settlement. The DOJ seeks to impose a $1 million-per-day fine if the violation continues.

Nov
1997
Study shows IE narrowing a still-considerable gap with Netscape, which leads 58 percent to 40 percent.
Dec
1997
The judge hearing the Justice Department's consent-decree action issues a temporary order requiring Microsoft to separate IE from Windows 95. The company appeals the ruling.
Jan
1998
Netscape announces Communicator will be free of charge, as IE has been all along. But Netscape goes one step farther in publishing Communicator's source code and establishing Mozilla.org to shepherd its open source development by a worldwide volunteer army of coders.
May
1998
The Justice Department and 20 state attorneys general sue Microsoft for violating antitrust law in allegedly tying IE to Windows.
Oct
1998
Studies shows Netscape losing more ground to IE, falling below the 50 percent mark for the first time but solidfying its lead in some workplace markets.
Nov
1998
America Online announces that it will acquire Netscape, a major blow to Microsoft's so-far steady march on the browser market. AOL says it will continue using IE, but industry analysts doubt that this will continue for long.
Mar
1999
IE 5.0 launches.