The forlorn ghost of Internet Explorer continues to haunt Windows 11 systems

Famous internet explorer error message "the webpage cannot be found"
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Despite officially meeting its end 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 for the spot).

Twitter user @XenoPanther 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.

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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, 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 and Fallouts 1 and 2 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, 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 and download Counter-Strike: Source skins in 2008!

PC Gamer's home page on 8/4/22, lacking images and functionality through internet explorer

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!

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.