When I worked in Tinplate R&D we had Lotus Notes for email and “databases”, but no browser or browser-based email systems. That was still in the Windows 3.11 days, and your various apps were things like Lotus Smartsuite, Windows Explorer, Lotus Notes. I still remember from a course in Ashorne Hill that at the time people were very concerned about cyber security, and although at the time there was talk of an intranet and firewall, it took a few years before it was available on our works PCs.
Also, access to the big wide world of the Internet was restricted to the selected few who had a clear need for it and were trusted not to make a pigs ear of it. The first time browsers became more widespread was when I had moved to Ebbw Vale – the standard then was Internet Explorer 4 on Windows 95, and I’m pretty sure I had internet access, which I needed for my distance learning course with CompuTeach.
At the time I did not develop any web pages, but made use of a page built for me to extract Focus Six-generated WK1 spreadsheets to generate my first generation traffic light graphs. That all changed with my move to Llanwern, where the standard at the time was IE5 on Windows NT – funny enough people still called the browser Netscape from the days when the initial browser was Netscape before the business decided to standardise on Internet Explorer.
Shortly afterwards we upgraded to IE6, which was the one where Microsoft had decided no longer to support applets. And since applets were at the time being used on our web pages to display a variety of charts, those people who got upgraded all of a sudden were unable to see their graphs – that is, until Sun Microsystems brought out their patch for applets to work despite Microsoft’s lack of support.
The next version was IE8, and that was also the last one, since Windows XP could not support any later versions of that browser. Meaning that for the majority of users time stood still for the best part of 10 years. So much so that in the end applications like FutureMail (our new email system replacing Lotus Notes, in essence Office365) or Yammer required the use of Google Chrome instead of IE8.
Which is rather ironic, since at some point I did have FireFox and later Google Chrome on my PC and was challenged why I had non-standard software installed. I really had to prove that it helped in my job as a developer, and all of a sudden, the limitations of Windows XP forced the powers-that-be into adopting non-standard themselves.
When I left I did have one of the new laptops in order to explore how our current systems were going to behave on Windows 8.1, so I managed to get a taste of things to come, but for one reason or another Google Chrome was still there for emails. But heaven forbid if you tried to use it for other sites, because then you were committing the immortal sin of using non-standard software ! I did, and I know why. Some Microsoft-generated web pages don’t behave very sensibly or even refuse to load in browsers other than Internet Explorer.
My web pages were tested and passed with flying colours – showing that not all Microsoft-generated content (I used ASP.NET for my web development) is restricted to their own browser.