The One Common Thing Between Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer

Web browsers. Some of us use the one we get on our devices out of the box. Others download another one. After a few minutes, the browser becomes part of the ordinary, just a way to access the many parts of the internet.

However, there’s more to that icon on that bar at the bottom of the screen. The developers, the designers, heck, even marketing. And after all the work the creators put into it, they would really, REALLY like it if people used it.

Of course, how exactly are you going to get people to use your browser?

Microsoft, in the late 1990s, had a great idea: bundle the browser with the newest release of their operating system.

On May 15, 1998, Microsoft released Windows 98, a new version designed to replace the slightly-dusty Windows 95, all while adding some new features to keep up with new technology. One of these new technologies was the Internet. You know, the thing that let me share this article with you, the place for endless memes, among other things?

At the time, the internet was very small, but the basics were there. You needed a device, a connection, and internet software in order to use it. Like a browser.

Today, we have four major browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Back in the 90s, there was Netscape Navigator. Although there were other smaller browsers, much like today, Netscape was the biggest, having the most market share. Unlike today, where most browsers are free, Netscape was a commercial product.

When Windows 98 launched, it was bundled with Internet Explorer, and because Windows was, and still is, the most popular desktop OS out there, Internet Explorer quickly gained market share. People already had a browser built into their new, shiny Windows 98 computer for free, so why would you want to go out and buy another browser?

So with that, Netscape was dethroned, and IE was nearly unstoppable. And Microsoft went all out on forcing it onto users. The usual help program for Windows was replaced with “HyperHelp”, basically HTML pages loaded in, well, IE. Heck, even File Explorer used IE!

However, Microsoft couldn’t do this all without getting in trouble with somebody, right? You’d think this would be another company, right? Maybe Netscape would speak out against all of this, right?

Well, Microsoft did get in trouble, but with the United States Government, who, on May 19, 1998, slapped Microsoft with an anti-trust case.

Microsoft argued with some hilariously dumb points, such as Windows being literally completely broken if IE was uninstalled, (which was not the case) and that people could if they wanted, install Netscape, and it would be just as easy as using IE. (Ok, maybe that wasn’t as dumb, but this didn’t really pass in court)

Long story short, Microsoft lost the case, was found guilty of anti-competitive practices and was ordered to split in two, one company to work on Windows, and another to work on software, like Internet Explorer and Office. Microsoft appealed, and the case was settled with Microsoft staying as one big company.

Microsoft bundling a browser and using methods to make it harder for users to use other browsers probably should have stayed in the past.

Well, it didn’t.

You probably know about Microsoft Edge, right? The replacement for IE? In Windows 11, Microsoft made it harder for users to change the default browser from Edge to anything else, just like they did with IE! This video by Enderman on YouTube shows how difficult it is:


Microsoft might be hurling at record speed towards another anti-trust case, and it might be a matter of time before it happens.

Well, that’s the one common thing between Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. They are/were being bundled with Windows, and Microsoft is using/used measures to prevent users from switching away from them.

(comic from xkcd)