Despite officially meeting its end (opens in new tab) at the hands of its father, Microsoft, Internet Explorer continues to live on as a vestigial little barnacle on the unfeeling leviathan of Windows 11, seemingly accidentally accessible through an unassuming little sub-menu (thanks to The Verge (opens in new tab) for the spot).
Twitter user @XenoPanther (opens in new tab) discovered the offending menu option, now likely to be patched out by Microsoft. You can step into the past by finding “Internet Options” in the Control Panel, navigating to Programs, then “Manage add-ons” and finally clicking the link “Learn more about toolbars and extensions.” Doing that, oddly enough, launches the help page in Internet Explorer in all its janky, discontinued glory, and you can navigate to the wider internet from there at your own peril.
The fact that this is one of those Windows system links that opens a help page in the default browser that no one has ever purposefully clicked on in the history of computing indicates to me that somebody at Microsoft just forgot to flip the proverbial switch from “Internet Explorer” to “Edge” in this forsaken little menu after the former’s demise. It’s interesting that Internet Explorer still exists in any form on the new OS, but it makes a certain sense given Windows’ direct continuity back to DOS, constantly building and iterating on its older versions.
Like those bits of jewlery made from the layers hardened paint from car factories (opens in new tab), the new keeps building on top of the old with no real purging or breaking off, and that’s fantastic. It’s why we can still get Deus Ex (opens in new tab) and Fallouts 1 and 2 (opens in new tab) up and running no sweat while console back compat is treated as a luxury and many apps for the early iPhones are already lost forever.
And maybe the ghost of Internet Explorer is a little less Sadako (opens in new tab), a little more Casper anyway. As I resign myself to at least two Chrome sessions a week hard-locking my Alder Lake rig with 32GB of RAM, I look at Microsoft’s oft-maligned browser with fondness and nostalgia—this is what I used to look at Wookieepedia (opens in new tab) and download Counter-Strike: Source skins in 2008!
Working as intended (Image credit: Future)
You should really let yourself be sustained by the memories though—you don’t want to be actively browsing the internet in 2022 with this death trap. This is what it looked like when I loaded our website, and the site of our peers over at Kotaku rendered as a mobile-style long scroll with giant, blown-out image thumbnails. Steam, weirdly enough, loaded fine!