Microsoft Video Reintroduces Internet Explorer to Generation Y

The software giant released a "Child of the 90's" promotional video in hopes of building buzz for its once-mighty Internet Explorer browser. Will it be enough to get users to switch?

Microsoft is embarking on a trip down memory lane to showcase how far Internet Explorer has come since the days of dial up Internet connection, AOL disks and CRT monitors.

The company released a video, called "Child of the 90s," in a bid to stoke pangs of nostalgia among members of Generation Y. Microsoft is hoping that the slickly produced piece will get Gen Y'ers—or anyone else with fond memories of that decade—to switch back to Internet Explorer, or at least give it another shot.

The video starts with a voiceover that states, "You might not remember us, but we met in the '90's." It goes on to feature several cultural touchstones that defined the 1990's like 3.5-inch floppies, the fanny pack and pump-up sneakers. Internet Explorer only appears at the end as a tile on a Windows 8 tablet's start screen before the company invites viewers to "Reconnect with the new Internet Explorer."

As of this writing, the video has amassed more than 1.5 million views. While an encouraging sign for Microsoft, it will take more than a video to wrest the market back from some fierce competitors.

Once the undisputed leader in the browser wars, Internet Explorer has seen its lead erode dramatically in recent years as rivals, primarily Google and Mozilla, have been updating, enhancing and optimizing their browsers at a blistering pace.

And those efforts have been paying off. Last year, Google Chrome surpassed Internet Explorer to become the world's most popular browser during the month of May, according to figures from StatCounter, a Web metrics firm. It was a feat that Google achieved with a little help from Mozilla.

"While attention has recently been focused on the battle between Chrome and IE, not-for-profit Mozilla's Firefox with its loyal membership base should not be underestimated," said StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen last spring. A 0.6 percent gain in Firefox usage helped Chrome claim a narrow victory over Internet Explorer.

Intense competition aside, it didn't help matters that Internet Explorer gained a reputation for falling behind the Web technology curb. Google Chrome, for instance, has won over both technology experts and average users alike with quick load times and it features Omnibox, an address bar that doubles as a search bar.

Security concerns have also taken their toll. Over the years, Internet Explorer has been beset by flaws and zero-day vulnerabilities that could have dangerous consequences for users that did little else but point their browsers to the wrong Websites.

According to Roger Capriotti, director of Internet Explorer Marketing, Microsoft's latest browser (IE10) has turned a corner.

"A lot of people are coming back to discover a new Internet Explorer—a browser that is fast, fluid and perfect for touch, which sets IE10 apart from other browsers. Internet Explorer 10 and Windows 8 together provide a new experience that offers the best of the Web and the best of apps on one device," wrote Capriotti in a company blog post.

Independent tests indicate that Microsoft is also getting better at browser security. An NSS Labs Browser Security Test ranked Internet Explorer 10 above Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox in combating click fraud and malicious downloads.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...