Internet Explorer

General: Main page  Hypertext History  Browser History  Browser Timeline
Browsers: Internet Explorer  Mosaic  Netscape  Opera
Web Editors: Frontpage  Dreamweaver
Platforms Macintosh: OS8.1-9.x, OSX
PC: Win95/98/ME, 3.X, NT [Alpha, Intel, Mips, PPC], 2000/XP
Unix: Solaris, HP-UX
About the
The original IE 1.0 browser code was licensed from Spyglass (a commercial arm for the NCSA Mosaic browser work), but the Microsoft team quickly made a big mark on the original codebase. The first two product cycles occurred within a very short span of time, and allowed the browser to gain a little bit of ground against its main rival - Netscape.

Netscape, meanwhile, launched its ambitious 2.0 version, which introduced the browsing world to Javascript, frames, and Plug-in technology. For a while, it looked like Microsoft would forever play second-fiddle to catch up to the ever-dominant Netscape. This was when the infamous "Browser Wars" began in earnest... and despite the technological ground it needed to gain, Internet Explorer market share slowly grew.

Internet Explorer 3.0 brought the Microsoft browser MUCH closer to the bar that had been set by Netscape than ever before (integrating frames, plug-ins technology and a reverse-engineered version of Javascript) while also innovating in new areas (CSS and VBScript.) But, when the companies released their fourth generation browsers, it marked a decided turning point in the so-called "war." Internet Explorer 4.0 was a tremendous leapfrog ahead of Microsoft's previous browser version. Most importantly, IE 4.0 finally met (or exceeded) most of the capabilities of its rival's browser.

In the long intervening years since IE 4.0's release, Netscape has not released a major new version of its own browser (the "Mozilla" open-source project is getting closer to its goals, but there has yet to be a widely released public version.) Meanwhile, the market share for the Internet Explorer browser has finally succeeded in its supposed goal of having dominant market share. It now commands (by many reports) approximately 60% of the browser market, with Netscape trailing at approximately a distant 30%.

Will this trend continue? Will new versions of Netscape or other browsers rise to meet this challenge? Only time will tell...
The time line represented below is for the 32 bit versions. Other IE platforms, including 16-bit windows, do not ship simultaneously with the 32-bit versions. Consequently there have been some intermediate version numbers on other platforms that are not detailed here.
IE 1.5: Includes HTML Table support, but no IE 2.0 HTML extensions such as Marquees and BGSounds.
IE 2.1: Supports frames and complex tables but no Javascript, Java or ActiveX ability.
IE 2.5: The features of 2.1 plus Javascript support, but still no Java ability and ActiveX.

Version Released Features

1.0 Aug. 1995 This was the base release included in the Windows 95 PLUS pack release.

2.0B1 Oct. 1995 The Beta release of 2.0 came very soon after the 1.0 version and added support for tables and several new HTML elements.
2.0 Nov. 1995 Version 2.0 Final Release

3.0A1 Mar. 1996 This limited release of 3.0 adds full support for the current HTML tables specification, frames and more HTML elements.
3.0B1 May. 1996 The first public release of 3.0 added scripting support (VB and Java) as well as more HTML support in addition to the features available in the first Alpha
3.0B2 Jul. 1996 The second beta release of 3.0 added support for Cascading Style Sheets and Java applets.
3.0 Aug. 1996 Version 3.0 Final Release
3.01 Oct. 1996 Version 3.0 Update Release. Among other things, fixed a major behavioral bug in style sheet margin treatment.

4.0B1 Apr. 1997 Also known as the Platform Preview 1, this is the first release of a major update to the browser. Improved style sheet support and Microsoft's Document Object Model add many new attributes and display abilities to the browser.
4.0B2 Jul. 1997 Also known as the Platform Preview 2. MANY changes and additions in style sheet support, HTML capabilities and other things.
4.0 Oct. 1997 Version 4.0 Final Release. Many more changes and additions in style sheet support, HTML capabilities and other things.
4.01 Nov. 1997 Version 4.0 update Release.

5.0B1 Jun. 1998 Also known as the Developer Preview, this is a new major update to the browser. Support for more CSS2 features is a highlight of this release.
5.0B2 Nov. 1998 Also known as the Public Preview. Bi-directional text, rubies and direct XML/XSL support are new features included in this release. Also included are many new CSS properties.
5.0 Mar. 1999 Version 5.0 Final Release.

5.5B1 Dec. 1999 Also known as the Developer Preview. A few changes to the implementation of frames and some new CSS properties are supported.
5.5 Jul. 2000 Version 5.5 Final Release.

6.0B1 Mar. 2001 More CSS changes and bug fixes to be more spec-compliant.
6.0 Oct. 2001 Version 6.0 Final Release. Released in conjunction with Microsoft Windows XP.

Note: This page is modified from Browser History: Internet Explorer.