Caller ID may be lying to you

Dave Moore

Internet Exploder. That's what we used to call it in the I.T. security community, back in "the day."

Microsoft's browser, called "Internet Explorer," was so buggy, so insecure, so problematic and prone to crashing that it seemed to blow itself up without warning. Hence, the moniker, "Internet Exploder."

Some of you might remember the "browser wars" of the late 1990's when an uppity company called Netscape introduced its product called Netscape Navigator. Back then, the Internet was just starting to ramp up in the public consciousness. "Browsers," like Netscape Navigator and Microsoft's Internet Explorer, offered easy ways to "browse" the hundreds and thousands of Internet websites that were starting to appear.

At the time, Microsoft was the world's dominant computer company, but had not really embraced the idea of the "Internet" way of doing things. In fact, in his book "The Road Ahead," Bill Gates brushed off the Internet as a mere stepping stone to what he saw as "the real information superhighway," which he promoted as being MSN (the Microsoft Network). Of course, his main competitors at the time, Compuserve and AOL (America Online) were not pleased with his opinion.

One month after his book hit the stores, and realizing the Internet was becoming a force that Microsoft could not control, Gates released a "Completely Revised and Up-to-Date" version of his book in October, 1996.

Then came the "Browser Wars." Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser, was transformed into Netscape Navigator by Jim Clark and Marc Andreesson. Netscape Navigator was widely loved and used (especially by me), but Microsoft had different ideas. Before long, Microsoft used its corporate might to crush the upstart Netscape, and push it into oblivion.

Even though Netscape Navigator was clearly the superior browser, and did a better job of taking you to and showing you the rapidly developing World Wide Web (WWW) of websites, it could not stand up to the overwhelming might of the Microsoft machine.

Microsoft, because of its unethical practices, was sued in 2001, in "United States v. Microsoft Corp," and found guilty of monopolization and attempted monopolization. Still, its massive promotional juggernaut was not to be denied.

After all was said and done, in spite of everything, Internet Explorer became the most widely used browser in the world, mainly because, if you wanted to use Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer was pitched as the only way to go. Browser war, over.

Ah, Internet Explorer. An almost nostalgic sigh occurs at the sight of its familiar and comfortable blue lower-case "e." Internet Explorer: the browser that won, not because it was the best product, but because it had the most powerful marketing department. A classic David and Goliath tale that went the wrong way.

Fast forward 23 years. We are blessed that super-smart programmers have taken the original Netscape Navigator browser and transformed it into the Internet's best browser: Mozilla Firefox. Internet Explorer, plodding, fumbling and bungling its way along, dominated the browser scene, not because of product superiority, but because of marketing might.

The Google Chrome browser jumped into first place, again, not because it's the better product, but because it now has the most powerful marketing machine.

And here we are, 2019, with Microsoft calling it quits with Internet Explorer. Earlier this year, Microsoft bigwigs declared Internet Explorer dead, saying it should no longer be used as a general Internet website browser. Search for "Microsoft says stop using Internet Explorer," if you want the story's ugly details.

As an Internet problem, this is huge. I fear I understate the problem, as it is massive in its global impact, beyond the comprehension of normal Internet users. For years, entire corporate structures have been built on the Internet Explorer protocols, depending on them as a solid way for their employees to connect remotely to their internal corporate networks.

With Microsoft declaring Internet Explorer dead, big time corporate structures are up the proverbial creek with crap for a paddle.

What are "normal," everyday Mom and Pop folks and small business users to do? Stop using Internet Explorer. Just stop. I've been preaching this sermon for years. The time is now. Stop using Internet Explorer. Forever and ever. Long live Firefox. The end. Amen.

Dave Moore has been fixing computers in Oklahoma since 1984. Founder of the nonprofit Internet Safety Group Ltd., he also teaches Internet safety community training workshops. He can be reached at 919-9901 or internetsafetygroup.com.

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