Internet Explorer: When all else fails, try 90s nostalgia

Internet Explorer: When all else fails, try 90s nostalgia

Summary: Microsoft's latest pitch to get people to try Internet Explorer again goes for 90s nostalgia, but will toying with our emotions bring success for IE10?

TOPICS: Microsoft

I have to admit, as a child of the 90s, I did enjoy Microsoft's latest ad attempting to woo people back to Internet Explorer by bringing up nostalgia about Tamagotchi, pog, troll dolls, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

Following glossy recalls of the things that Gen Y grew up with and contrasting it to the world today, like a troll being a friend or lunch not being a picture, Microsoft is attempting to rejuvenate the IE name, which it clearly sees as being something deeply unpopular with the generation who are in the early stages of adulthood. The line at the end of the commercial--"You grew up; so did we"-along with a shiny new Tumblr at, tells you all the reasons why IE is better. It's faster, it's designed for touchscreens, there's an entire new user interface--Microsoft's reasons go on and on.

Despite the perceived image problem, Internet Explorer's marketshare still sits over 54 percent, and its next closest rival, Firefox, sits at just under 20 percent.

There were predictions that IE's marketshare would slip below 50 percent, but despite a low of just over 51 percent in December 2011, IE's marketshare has been largely stable for the last year.

So why go after Gen Y at all?

It really comes down to the perception of Internet Explorer. A lot of people in this age group, particularly the tech savvy among us, grew up knowing how god-awful IE was, and have since stuck to alternate browsers. Down the track, when the workforce becomes more Gen Y and less Baby Boomer, there's every chance that IE's marketshare could slip under 50 percent, and just keep going. Getting in early to address the image problem could go a long way.

But for now, the immediate battle is going to be between Firefox and Chrome, who are locked in battle at around 20 percent marketshare. I personally still use both on a daily basis, though my current preference is Chrome. I have, however, been somewhat convinced to not give Firefox away entirely, thanks to ZDNet's Australian Editor Chris Duckett's recent comparison, which showed that Firefox is beginning to perform a bit better than it used to.

Topic: Microsoft


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • "beginning to perform a bit better than it used to?"

    "beginning to perform a bit better than it used to?" Seriously? A couple of milliseconds will make you switch a browser? Ever try running an HTML5 game or any animation in Chrome in anything but Chrome's default 100% zoom? FPS goes down dramatically (IE9 does great at any zoom). So if you run at a high desktop resolution and crank up the zoom in your browser to make up for it, you're in for a world of hurt with Chrome. Also, IE was never "god-aweful"- it ran rings around Netscape in every category. IE 5.5 and IE 6.0 were also not "god-aweful" at the time. In fact, they were great. But, MS just got lazy and cocky and sat on their success for 5+ years afterwards and allowed Gecko and Webkit browsers to catch-up and IE to stagnate.
    • Reminded me of Netscape too...

      That was my 90's; watching the N in the top corner get eaten by a globe... Then come back... Then globe... Then N... Ahh dial up! Didn't everyone use Netscape? I'm sure a dull usage search in google will say no,, but it was my youth! Win 95, Netscape communicator, encarta... Myst. For that reason this ad doesn't work on me... My school used Netscape, my first PC came from a shop that built to spec ... Yes there still used to be a lot of those... And came with Netscape.. It was my browser! What it does remind me of was a time when operating systems actually crashed... And I mean crashed, frozen, nada.. Pull the plug out, pop it back in and get told off for not "shutting down correctly" and using the angry defence

      "And do you remember why I didn't shut you down? You froze and deleted my home work!" Yes you had to hit ctrl s very often back then!

      That wasn't a windows thing though, software was much younger, my uncle had a machine running system 7 and I remember being tech support for that at 12 or 13; again... Turn it off and on again.

      Memory lane is fun, but maybe not remind me of a time when the operating system itself would just run into a code black hole and lock up... But as they say they've grown up, I honestly don't think I've had that happen since windows 98! NT is much more friendly. Much nicer when something stops responding and does not require a complete reboot.
    • Chrome is almost

      Chrome has only one feature that I'd like to see in I.E. and that's a spell checker. Other than that, like you said it's got a LOT of problems. I.E. works across the web 99% of the time. It only fails when I run into web sites that are stuck on themselves and program I.E. to not work. They do this maliciously and out of spite. It's a sad World that has to put up with knuckle heads like that.
    • IE10 has caught up

      and does a great job - but IE9 still comes up a bit short. However I was nonetheless thrilled when it came out, as it still was more or less a modern browser, and finally had SVG support. I had been hoping for that for nearly ten years.
  • Firefox has little chances

    I think its market share will go down. On windows IE has the advantage of being the "home" browser, while chrome seems to be the natural choice for the ones not happy with IE.
    Firefox is also late on mobile.
    For the record I use Opera, with a very small market share.
    • Re: On windows IE has the advantage of being the "home" browser

      And yet that failed to stem the loss of market share it has already suffered.
    • A lot of people will still use firefox.

      Not because of any effort on Mozilla's part, but because of the existence of add-ons. I've tried switching to both Chrome and IE9/10, but the lack of NoScript and a few other choice add-ons annoys the hell out of me.
      • addons?

        If you need ad-ons for your browser, then you have a problem...
        • I don't agree

          The browser should be a compact thing without tons of extra frills. I have tons of developer extensions which no average surfer should have installed or would ever need - those things should be add ons, and have no place in any browser's default installation.
    • Firefox has every chance

      IE is too short on features, and Opera and Safari both have some annoying habits. That leaves Firefox and Chrome.

      Firefox is a resource hog, but nowhere near as bad as Chrome. Don't believe me? Install them both and try. Chrome also has a few features missing which some people see as key (such as live bookmarks), so Firefox still has a strong audience.
  • 1990s nostalgia

    Incompatible websites that don't use MS extensions, non existent security in active X and pop ups all over the place.
    Alan Smithie
    • Netscape was just as bad

      The 90s were hell on web developers. You either had to pick your horse and put up the ridiculous rectangle download buttons ("site works best with"), or you had to develop two sites and detect the user agent.

      With the latter approach, you had to develop two totally different sites because of all the proprietary stuff each browser had, and all of the things that didn't work properly in each (crappy proprietary layer tag in Netscape and you couldn't use CSS on table innard tags.)
  • Internet Explorer: When all else fails, try 90s nostalgia

    Very well done advertisement that brought back a lot of memories. IE10 is a great browser to use. Its light on resources, compatible with all the web pages, and very quick to display.
  • RE: The 90's

    When people had civilized conversations on message boards and comment sections about the topics that interested them and thought people that disagreed with them were wrong and maybe stupid but not fanboys, shills, or that they lived in a basement in their moms basement.
    • What planet was that version of the 90s on?

      Read usenet archives from that time period: it looks a lot like today, only add OS/2 to the cat fighting partisan mix.
  • Update mechanism

    At the very least, IE today isn't crippled and sucky like IE four years and two months ago... I mean, "in the 90s" was.

    This is less an ad for IE as Windows 8 anyway.
  • Cultists

    There seems to be a cult following of the I.E. haters. They'll never use I.E. so they have no ground to speak on it's faults or otherwise. Bottom line is I.E. does do better than the other browsers today. But they'll never know because they are stuck in the past like the ad shows.
    • "Better" is an excessively enthusiastic choice of words

      I can't help but notice that a lot of the popular javascript libraries render a little better in WebKit than they do in Trident. Flip and transition effects in jquery mobile, for instance, are much smoother. Just saying.