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Microsoft considers ‘rebranding’ and renaming Internet Explorer

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Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Microsoft is thinking about changing the name of Internet Explorer.

In an “Ask Me Anything” chat on Reddit last week, engineers from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer team fielded questions about the world’s most infamous Web browser.

Answering a question about whether Microsoft ever considered “rebranding and changing the name of Internet Explorer,” the team conceded that it has — and is.

“It’s been suggested internally,” the team commented. “Plenty of ideas get kicked around about how we can separate ourselves from negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today.”

As recently as “a few weeks ago,” the Internet Explorer team said there was “a particularly long email thread where numerous people were passionately debating it.”

Microsoft is no stranger to name changes for products that just aren’t cutting it.

Windows Mobile became Windows Phone. Hotmail became Outlook. Windows NT became Windows Server. Microsoft Wallet became Microsoft Passport, then .NET Passport, then Microsoft Passport Network, then Windows Live and is now just your Microsoft account. (There is now something else called Microsoft Wallet).

None of those name changes have had a dramatic — if any — impact on sales or user growth. A new name for Internet Explorer wouldn’t likely help much either.

Once the most-used Web browser, Internet Explorer had been on a steady downward trajectory for years. Its share of the browser market fell below the 50% threshold in 2010 and now sits at about 21%, according to browser usage tracker StatCounter. Google’s Chrome is currently the browser leader, commanding a 45% share of the market.

Internet Explorer has become synonymous with bugs, security problems and outdated technology. Many of the questions the Internet Explorer team fielded on the “Ask Me Anything” chat were about whether the browser could improve its reputation among Web users.

“I hope so,” said one member of the IE team. “Sincerely. A lot of things are changing.”

The Internet Explorer team noted that the latest version of Microsoft’s browser takes advantage of all the latest security and software features that its rivals use.

To speed adoption of IE 11, the latest iteration of Internet Explorer, Microsoft said it is ending support for old versions of its browser. The most-used version of Internet Explorer stubbornly remains IE 8, which debuted in 2009.

Corporations tend to be very slow to adopt new browser versions, particularly if they custom build applications for them. But the IE team said on Reddit that the latest version of Internet Explorer allows corporate IT teams to install IE 11 company-wide but still run certain applications in IE 8.

“If you don’t stop being so reasonable and having all the right answers I’m going to actually have to give IE another shot,” quipped Reddit reader PlacidTick. “Stop it.”

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