The death of Internet Explorer?

It seems as though Microsoft has decreed Internet Explorer, the de facto web browser for Windows, dead (at least feature-wise and as an installable browser) at this point in time. Straight from the horse’s mouth, they declare the following (in a Q & A session):

Q: when will IE get transparent PNG support?

A: Ian, I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question for you

Q: when / will there be the next version of IE?

A: As part of the OS, IE will continue to evolve, but there will be no future standalone installations. IE6 SP1 is the final standalone installation.

Q: What’s the long-term outlook for IE as a development platform? Are there major limitations planned for future releases (such as in Longhorn) due to security reasons? I know that this is a concern to many developers that rely on IE technology.

A: Security continues to be a top priority. The platform will change for longhorn but you can expect the client, where folks need to browse, to not be as restrictive as the server. I encourage folks to get involved in our beta program to help us evolve the platform

Q: Why is this? the anti-trust? (no further standalone)

A: Although this is off topic, I will answer briefly: Legacy OSes have reached their zenith with the addition of IE 6 SP1. Further improvements to IE will require enhancements to the underlying OS.

Sorry. Having to update the operating system is complete and utter hogwash. Mozilla takes advantage of PNG transparency, has nice rendering and proper CSS support, tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, renders pages quicker, and is open source — and it does it on multiple versions of Windows (taking advantage of what it can, like in XP, it uses the native theme infrastructure). In addition to Windows, Mozilla even does what it does on multiple, non-Windows operating systems!

Listed directly above is just a few of the big features. There’s a more exhaustive list of several other reasons why Mozilla is better available.

Anyway, according to the project manager of the Internet Explorer project at Microsoft, it seems as though their browser is grandfathered. It will not get any updates unless they deem it necessary (mostly security "enhancements", something that it seems to take them a while to fix…)

We can hope that hardware vendors, ISPs, and others relying on Internet Explorer take this into consideration. I’m sure Internet-related companies outside of Microsoft want the best experience for people browsing the web. Eventually, some of them may hopefully start shipping alternative browsers on the desktop, such as Mozilla or even Opera. AOL has already embedded Mozilla in their AOL for OS X and Compuserve clients. (Of course, I’m not sure how yesterday’s AOL and Microsoft announcement factors into all of this…)

Anyway, it’s sad to see that Microsoft does not seem to support real innovation, especially in something as neat (and important) as the Internet.

With a company so large and a product so important, you would think that there would be more emphasis placed on the browser so that it supports even the basic standards that have been around for years (PNG, CSS 1 & 2, etc.). Mozilla, Konqueror, Safari, and Opera all support this basic featureset all extraordinay well.

If Microsoft’s stated position on the subject (from the Q & A session linked above) is accurate, then they are really doing a disservice to not only their users but to the world wide Internet community as well.

(Thanks to Kevin for pointing out the link.)

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7 Responses to “The death of Internet Explorer?”

  1. pseudo says:

    Actually …

    Working for Microsoft, I’ve been seeing some interesting changes as of late. My personal opinion is that Microsoft currently working on a replacement for Internet Explorer. For instance, the new MSN 8.5 that is being released later this month, is supposed to be a browser "shell" on top of Internet Explorer 6 SP1. However, it runs almost 50% faster than the stand alone browser without the fluff! When doing our initial product training, my coworkers and I murmured to each other in disbelief when we saw the two products runing side by side. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Something fishy is going on. And on another interesting note, the new release of MSN 8.5 is almost 40MB smaller than it’s predisessor, but has much more functionality, features, etc. I think the code base has changed significantly, 40mb is alot of code. I could be wrong, but something smells funny. πŸ™‚

  2. Tom Sommer says:

    Good news

    Nice news pseudo, but will MSN 8.5 have full PNG support and pay more attention to standards?The real problem is not loads of features in IE/MSN… It’s about the browser not meeting the standards set my W3C.If you create a site which looks perfect in Mozilla, and then view it in IE, you’ll quickly notice how wrong IE displays a site… THIS is the main problem to me.And the fact that IE does not have full PNG support is just silly and wrong. PNG is the next generation of images, Microsoft should know and support that….This is why I use Firebird

  3. Garrett says:

    I fully agree

    It’s great that IE is getting faster and should hopefully have a better UI. However, it’s extremely sketchy in the non-answer of the project manager. Either he didn’t know or he doesn’t care about PNG support. If there were plans, I’m sure he would have said something about that. His non-answer pretty much means "no" — at least for the time being (and it has already been way overdue).

    I would think that proper PNG support would be much easier to implement when compared to getting CSS right. If they don’t have any plans to implement PNG support, then I would think that getting the more complex standards stuff (CSS mostly) is also not on the drawing board.

    Basically, from the little question and answer interview on Microsoft’s site, I strongly get the impression that they have deemed the renderer as feature complete, only to get an occasional security fix (a few months late, if ever) and maybe an occasional tweak for speed. This has been the case (more or less) for the past few years, and nothing in that interview seems to indicate otherwise.

    I think Firebird has the possibility of being very nice. Hopefully they will be able to trim down the download size even more. Before that, however, there needs to be easy to install versions in self-installing EXEs (for Windows) and RPMs (for Linux). Normal people do not want to deal with zip files or tarballs.

  4. Tom Sommer says:

    Internet Explorer will die

    That’s true… I believe that when Firebird becomed primary trunk, there will be an official installer.. right now there is an unoffcial installer which works great.About IE/Microsoft I think they are indeed killing Internet Explorer just a little more every time they ignore user’s requests for PNG support and a more standard compliant browser… People don’t want their MSN messenger integrated into Internet Explorer and all that fancy stuff, they want a browser that renders pages correctly and supports all common standards. Because while many like that Internet Explorer can display a page correctly even if the HTML is faulty, webdesigners truly hate that Internet Explorer does not support common CSS and even HTML standards, this makes it hard to design cross-browser sites. Previously people where complaining that Mozilla didn’t display sites correctly.. Now it’s the other way around.While I think MANY end-users use Internet Explorer because "it’s there, shipped with Windows XP/2k", I believe that firebird has created an extremely large userbase for a non-InternetExplorer browser and since Firebird is also more targeted at newbie/end-users than Mozilla Suite is, it will gain a large userbase from people who are looking for a browser that does the job and does not contain large amounts of security bugs or useless features, it’s a *browser* – not a home-entertainment-centerI’ve personally converted like 40/50 people from IE to Firebird, mainly because they hated how Internet Explorer always crashed and were slow to display pages.I truly believe that if Microsoft continues along this path, Firebird/Mozilla will win. More and more users are opening their eyes to the alternatives because of Microsoft’s lack of attention to the user’s obvious requests and needs.Internet Explorer is no longer your friend, convert to Firebird today… Join the revolution :)(why the hell does this "blog" not convert newline to HTML when requested?)

  5. Josh says:

    Ironic? heh

    I was browsing the various drafts of the CSS3 modules tonight and noticed that the Ruby, Text, Color, TV, List, Fonts, Web Fonts, Basic User Interface, & Line modules all have editors from Microsoft. Does this seem ironic to anyone else?

  6. pseudo says:

    I don’t use Explorer if I can avoid it …

    In my post, I might not have come accross the way I intended. I don’t use the MSN software, or even use Windows for that matter. (When I can help it) What I was getting at is I think that they aren’t using the IE code base anymore. Just some odd things have been going on in Redmond and everyone has been hush hush about it. There’s even roumors about Microsoft positioning itself to buy up AOL. Scary thought. There have been roumors running about work as of late about changes beeing made to the products. Things that don’t seem to be the norm for Microsoft. Actual compitition? Or just using the code of others? The latter seems to be the more predictable answer. As for transparent PNG’s? I have no idea, I’ll have to look. But for the most part, I really don’t care because I use Mozilla based browsers. I even stoped trying to be Explorer compatible in my coding. It’s a waste of time in my oppinon. πŸ™‚ Big daddy Gates pays my rent, but that doesn’t mean I do what my daddy wants.

  7. sivu says: