The best and most popular web browser on the net. Fast, furious, embedded in Windows (or not), caused Microsoft to be broken up. InternetExplorer is part of every healthy Windows install because, frankly, it is the operating system.
The latest version is now 8.0 [-- NatalieBrown]. Did you know that? Microsoft doesn't advertise like they used to.
InternetExplorer is also a handy ActiveX control that you can plug right into your own application. Heck, the new Windows help system (HTML help as its known, or hh.exe) is a wrapper of this control. This is made trivial by the CHtmlView control in MFC new in VisualStudio 6.0, but some of us remember doing the COM magic by hand. It was ridiculously easy and powerful.
If you want, you can also use its HTML and XML parsers (MSHTML.DLL and MSXML.DLL respectively) independently of the browser. Heck, the whole browser is a collection of COM objects, of which the important are documented in MSDN.
If you look at iexplore.exe, you'll notice it is only a handful of kilobytes. InternetExplorer is merely an ActiveX bench. Go figure. It also helps that it uses "operating system" components to do most of its work, it being the OS.
InternetExplorer also upgraded most of the common controls, and again, and again because it kept screwing them up. When it gets the toolbars right, call me. Microsoft Office gave up and wrote their own. But then again, I don't think they use any of MFC or COMCTL32.DLL.
Oh, and yes, there are Unix ports of IE. Except they're really bad. Probably for every reason that IE is good on Windows. The Mac port is better, though, but has very bizarre bugs, like inverting z-order of frames.
It should be noted that InternetExplorer doesn't actually use any windows at all for it's "controls" (see http://blogs.msdn.com/oldnewthing/archive/2005/03/15/395866.aspx). When you think about it that way - that's why they needed an army of developers on the thing.
The reason IE is still the best is because its so darn fast - everytime I switch to another browser its like I'm losing time out of my life for nothin' while the thing loads. Who cares about CSS 2.0 compatability anyway? (sarcasm) -- RyanNorton
Flash forward to 2005: FireFox? offers serious competition to an increasingly hidebound IE. Performance comparisons have become increasingly subjective, with IE faster at some tasks, FF at others. Microsoft's development schedule for IE (now 6.0, with 7.0 reportedly around the corner) is charitably described as "glacial" --ChuckAdams
"The best and most popular web browser on the net."? Yeah right -> .
Shoot, and now GoogleChrome is getting in on the BrowserWars. FF and IE are getting slower and slower (I need to dig up that SlashDot posting...) IE8 is more standards compliant than any of the earlier versions. But: since web developers have now gotten used to IE's quirks mode, it renders lots of stuff incorrectly. Basically the point is that MicroSoft breaks stuff and then charges money (or lets third parties charge money) to fix it. - NatalieBrown