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As Internet Explorer turns 20, has Microsoft Edge been worth the wait?

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the launch of Internet Explorer. First making an appearance in the Windows 95 era via the Microsoft Plus! Add-on pack which featured the excitingly-named Internet Jumpstart Kit and version 1.0 of the browser people love to hate and hate to love.

Two full decades later we have slowly but surely worked up to Internet Explorer 11 - Chrome, for comparison has hit the 40s in less than half the time - and now IE has been all but retired. With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is the new kid on the block. Twenty years is a long gestation period. Was it worth the wait?

Even if you loathe Internet Explorer, it's hard not to feel a little something at the realisation that the browser is 20 years old. Few people who use a computer can say they have avoided Internet Explorer, and that’s not a claim that can be made by many software titles.

From the heyday of the IE vs Netscape Navigator battles of the 90s, through the antitrust lawsuits, to the declining market share, Internet Explorer has had a rocky journey.

Microsoft had already announced that the browser had reached the end of the road. Today on Twitter, the company took the anniversary to promote its replacement, Microsoft Edge in a slightly tongue-in-cheek style:

The replies to the tweet show the mixed feelings that are held about Internet Explorer. Many are scathing, and in shutting the door on IE to usher in Edge, it would appear that even Microsoft is ready to move on, to try to shake off the reputation of its famous browser. Internet Explorer was the browser developers hated developing for - will Edge be any different?

Ultimately, it is the user experience that will make or break Edge. It seems as though Microsoft was in something of a rush to ensure that the browser was out of the door at the same time as Windows 10 as it is lacking one of its biggest features - add-ons. It could well prove to be a grave mistake to have released Edge in an unfinished form in the hope that people will stick around to try out the 'completed' build at some unknown point in the future.

Until add-ons support comes, what is there to enjoy? A reading mode, the ability to scribble on websites, improved security and performance - but is there anything unique?

We've talked about Microsoft Edge before, but the twentieth anniversary of the release of Internet Explorer seems like a good time to revisit the subject.

Has Microsoft got it right with Edge or is there still a lot of work to do? Will Edge always be playing catch-up with Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, or does the browser show signs of innovation that will be copied by the competition? In short, was it worth the wait?

Photo credit: Vladimir Gjorgiev / Shutterstock