This Means War!
November 27, 1995: Microsoft Ships Internet Explorer 2.0
It was also the first version to allow the importing of bookmarks from Netscape Navigator, which at the time had a virtual monopoly on the web browser market. This was the first inklings of the “browser war” that was soon to erupt over the next few years.
By mid-1995 the World Wide Web had received a great deal of attention in popular culture and the mass media. Netscape Navigator was the most widely used web browser and Microsoft had licensed Mosaic to create Internet Explorer 1.0. which it had released as part of the Microsoft Windows 95 Plus! Pack in August.
Internet Explorer 2.0 was released as a free download three months later. Unlike Netscape Navigator it was available to all Windows users for free, even commercial companies.
Other companies later followed and gave their browsers away for free. New versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape (branded as Netscape Communicator) were released at a rapid pace over the following few years.
Internet Explorer began to approach feature parity with Netscape with version 3.0 (1996), which offered scripting support and the market’s first commercial Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) implementation.
In October 1997, Internet Explorer 4.0 was released. The release party in San Francisco featured a ten-foot-tall letter “e” logo. Netscape employees showing up to work the following morning found the giant logo on their front lawn, with a sign attached that read “From the IE team … We Love You”. The Netscape employees promptly knocked it over and set a giant figure of their Mozilla dinosaur mascot atop it, holding a sign reading “Netscape 72, Microsoft 18” representing the market distribution.
Internet Explorer 4 changed the tides of the browser wars. It was integrated into Microsoft Windows, which some considered technologically disadvantageous and an apparent exploitation of Microsoft’s monopoly on the PC platform. Users were discouraged from using competing products because IE was “already there” on their PCs.