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Definition: Internet Explorer

Microsoft's original Web browser, which has been included with Windows since Windows 95. Commonly called "IE," versions of Internet Explorer for Mac and Unix were also available for a number of years. IE has been superseded by Microsoft's Edge browser, and the last IE version (IE 11) will lose support from Microsoft in 2021. See Edge browser.

At one time, Internet Explorer was the most widely used Web browser on PCs. However, Chrome and Firefox along with several Chromium-based browsers eventually took the lion's share. See Chromium.

The Browser Wars
In the mid-1990s, Netscape's Navigator browser, which was paid software, became the de facto on-ramp to the Web. Recognizing the Internet's potential, Microsoft quickly developed IE for Windows and gave it away. As a result, Netscape was forced to make Navigator free, and both browsers vied for top place, each new version one-upping the other with new features. Since it came with every Windows PC, IE eventually overtook Netscape. See Web browser and World Wide Web.