Internet Explorer is a web browser that is developed and released by Microsoft. The first version of Internet Explorer was released on the 16th of August, 1995; and, as of 2014, there has been 11 versions of the browser. Internet Explorer has largely been a desktop web browser; designed to be used on desktop and laptop computer. While there is a mobile version of the browser - titled 'Internet Explorer Mobile' - that is designed to be used on cellphones, smartphones and tablets: the browser is mostly perceived as a desktop browser.
From it's release (1995(, to the present day (2014), Internet Explorer has been the most popular browser used to surf the World Wide Web. However, it's usage share (of total browser usage) has declined heavily since 2009. In 2014, Statcounter - a service used by websites to record visitors - indicates that Internet Explorer is the second most popular desktop browser; Google Chrome having a higher usage share. In 2007, statistics indicated that Internet Explorer had a usage share of 70-80%, and as of 2014, this has declined to a rough estimate of 30-40%.
Internet Explorer was released in 1995, and when it was released, the web browser with the largest usage share was Netscape Navigator. The first version of Internet Explorer was packaged - somewhat controversially - with Windows 95; giving the browser a distinct advantage over it's competitors: due to the dominance of the Windows operating system. Early versions of Internet Explorer are generally accepted to have copied the features found within Netscape Navigator; although it did innovate, for example: it was the first browser to support Cascading Style Sheets.
Internet Explorer 5 was released in 1999, and on it's release, Internet Explorer's usage share had grown to such an extent, that Netscape effectively 'threw in the towel' and sold the company to AOL. By 2002, Internet Explorer had a virtual monopoly on browser usage: with a 90-95% market share. However, the 'age of Google' had commenced, and as Google's 'foothold' on the World Wide Web grew, they expanded the range of products and services they provided. One of these products was a web browser: named Google Chome, and it was released in 2008. By 2014, Google Chrome has overthrown Internet Explorer as the web's most popular browser.
Internet Explorer's usage share has also been 'eaten into' by Mozilla Firefox - a descendent of Netscape Navigator - Safari (for the Mac) and Opera. Finally, web browsers designed for mobile devices have steadily grown in popularity since 2010; with estimates predicting their use to only grow. Therefore, while Internet Explorer is still an extremely popular client program, it is unlikely to ever dominate the World Wide Web as it did in the past.
Version 1.0: released on the 16th of August, 1995
Notable facts: it was basically a reworking of the browser: Spyglass Mosaic.
Version 2.0: released on the 22nd of November, 1995
Version 3.0: released on the 13th of August, 1996
Notable facts: the first browser to use the blue 'e' logo, pioneered the use of Cascading Style Sheets, and began to use a new source code that was independent of Spyglass Mosaic. The first version of the browser to be a serious competitive threat to Netscape Navigator.
Version 4.0: released on the 11th of October, 1997
Notable facts: expanded compatibility, could be used on versions of the Unix operating system. Version 4.0 launched the use of the Trident (layout engine): which improved the browser compatibility and compliance with W3C web standards.
Version 5.0: released on the 18th of March, 1999
Notable facts: the largest gap in time, so far, for a new Internet Explorer version; mostly due to Netscape running into financial difficulties and losing the 'browser war' with Microsoft. Introduced a 'Search Explorer Bar' and a 'AutoComplete Feature'.
Version 6.0: released on the 27th of August, 2001
Notable facts: criticised as being the worst version of Internet Explorer: which was mostly due to security issues and it not supporting new web standards (the browser was problematic for web developers).
Version 7.0: released on the 18th of October, 2006
Notable facts: developed to coincide with the release of the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. The browser was renamed to 'Windows Internet Explorer' from 'Microsoft Internet Explorer'. The browser attempted to fix many of the security issues in version 6.0: using a security sandbox so that the correct permissions are set for users.
Version 8.0: released on the 19th of March, 2009
Notable facts: developed to coincide with the release of the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. Version 8.0 has good support for web standards and rendered webpages correctly; the feature was known as 'Standards mode'.
Version 9.0: released on the 14th of March, 2011
Notable facts: increased malware protection and a mobile version for the Windows Phone.
Version 10.0: released on the 4th of September, 2012
Notable facts: includes a built in version of the Adobe Flash Player, and was released to coincide with sale of the Microsoft Windows 8 operating system.
Version 11.0: released on the 17th of October, 2013
Notable facts: improved developer support and increased performance.