If I had mod points, I would award you all of them.
Its easy for some "Younglings" today to criticise what happened then. I personally didn't like IE back in 2000(Active X drive by installs, toolbars, and standards compatibility). Hell, life was bad back then (1997 - 2004) when Nutscrape and Exploder each having their own view of "Standards" (I am ignoring the Mozilla Suite and Netscape 6/7 as both never truly gained critical mass, and were not really for the masses anyway).
Until Firefox was released in 2004, there was no credible standards based browser, apart from the rather good Opera, which was pay ware at the time. Even then it was the surge of appalling viruses and drive by installs on IE, that finally got people to notice Firefox with its better security, and seduced by features such as pop up blocking and tabbed browsing.
Thanks to the efforts by Mozilla, which were then cemented later by Apple with Webkit/Safari, Standards Compliance has become a desirable feature for browser developers, rather than a drag.
Even Microsoft has slowly gotten their act together, and improving their own standards support.
Today we are in a better place, but its easy to forget how bad it was. even though Firefox was released in 2004, it still took a while to overtake IE.
In companies, where they are very much into standard installations and frowning upon installing software, it wasn't until Windows 7 came that IE 6 was eventually replaced together with XP. Therefore coding for the crappy standards of IE6 was the only realistic path available.
Its easy for most of us working in Tech companies to say otherwise, but in other companies like banking, and government, its a different environment.