I can’t find a convinced source telling in which specific date did HTA become available, but it seems to be earlier than the year 2000.
On the official introduction page of HTA, there’s a highlight saying “The Power of Trust”. Unlike normal HTML pages running in a normal browser, HTA can have almost the same permissions that an exe file could have. Which gives it access to varieties of ActiveX that are not available in normal browsers due to security reasons.
NodeJS would certainly have much better ecosystem now but for some specific tasks I still prefer tools with GUI… T-T (Now I also use NodeJS to do some batch work.)
But it was a shame that Microsoft stopped making it better. Wishes.