NEW YORK (CNNMoney) If you think Microsoft should just kill off Internet Explorer already, you might just get your wish. The browser has become synonymous with bugs, security problems and outdated technology. Even as Internet Explorer has improved dramatically in recent years, it continues to lose serious ground to rival browsers.

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 sank below 20% in October, according to browser usage tracker StatCounter. Google’s Chrome is currently the browser leader, commanding a 48% share of the market.

This summer, Microsoft promised big, upcoming changes for Internet Explorer. Now, it appears those changes could include the once-unthinkable: Replacing IE with a new browser.

ZDNet reported this week that Microsoft would introduce a new, stripped down browser that has been codenamed “Spartan.” It would debut with Windows 10 next year, and it would function similarly to Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft declined to comment.

The Spartan browser will be built on a different software platform from IE, so it won’t be backwards-compatible, ZDNet reported. That means Microsoft will continue to ship IE with Windows to ensure that corporate apps continue to function properly.

Company IT departments and governments tend to be very slow to adopt new browser versions, particularly if they build custom applications for them. That’s why the most-used version of Internet Explorer stubbornly remains IE 8, which debuted in 2009.

South Korea even passed a law in 1999 requiring that banks and retailers use digital certificates — created by Microsoft, and available exclusively on Internet Explorer.

So IE won’t go away just yet. But this could be the beginning of the end.

Kathy’s notes:  I must add that web developers despise Internet Explorer as the browser display is unpredictable and getting your website to display properly on older versions of IE can be a nightmare.  I use Chrome for building websites and also love Firefox’s Firebug tool for making on screen design changes.

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