Some MS Employees Question Keeping IE

By on January 4, 2006

Ars Technica has an interesting blog roundup article this morning with quotes from a number of MS employees who are questioning the wisdom of keeping IE around without improving it.

The saga of Internet Explorer, the piece of software that once brought the Department of Justice to the brink of breaking up Microsoft, continues to eat away at the company. Several Microsoft employees have been reporting on their blogs that they feel the browser is not receiving adequate attention from upper management, and that it reflects badly on Microsoft as a result.

IE 7 is, of course, on the way, but by all accounts it’s still pretty far behind Firefox and a lot of other offerings. What’s not mentioned by any of these folks is the poor standards support issue, which has wasted more time for more web developers than any other issue in the history of the browser. Unfortunately, IE7 fixes some standards problems, but not others, which is perhaps even worse than if it had fixed none at all, since there’s now another broken browser that’s broken in a different way.

At this point, the only way I could see to make IE relevant again would be to break backwards compatibility and make it standards-compliant. Safari, Firefox, Konqueror, and etc all render nearly identically, so standards-compliance isn’t some nebulous thing. One (cheesy) way to keep some backward compatibility and still give us standards dorks what we want might be to make the browser’s ‘strict’ rendering mode render like all the others, and leave ‘quirks’ mode quirky. The developers that understand the distinction and how to change the doctype to enable ‘strict’ mode can do so, and all the old IE-only sites that didn’t have doctypes anyway can go about their business as usual.

Really, given the continual issues, why doesn’t MS just make IE a shell around the Gecko engine (which powers Firefox and Mozilla)? The source is available, it would reduce maintenance costs, and solve all of the issues in one fell swoop.



  1. I would love it if Microsoft wrapped IE around Gecko, but then they would be embracing open-source, which I don’t think they can do for a hundred reasons.

    I’d liked the idea of them buying Opera. We get a better browser, and they still get to thumb their noses at open-source.

  2. I like competition. I don’t like or use IE any longer because FireFox is better. However with FF v1.5 there are many problems. And as long as Microsoft has IE or any other significant userbase browser FF will hopefully evolved and continue to improve and correct any problems along the way.

    I think Dvorak had a good idea in Microsoft purchasing Opera. Firefox features, for the most part, are taken from features Opera already had in place. I have Opera but I just can’t get used to it and prefer FF. But a lot of people do like Opera and would switch to it if Microsoft made the purchase.

  3. Due to some quirks with Firefox and a web app I use at work I switched to Maxthon for my browser for a few months. It is based on the IE, but a definite improvement over IE. Firefox 1.5 plays nice with my problematic web app, so I have switched back.

    Has anyone tried the MSN Search Toolbar? What a joke! I hope that is not Microsoft concept of tabbed browsing that is being built into IE7.

  4. I don’t understand all the excitement over IE 7? Can someone explain it to me? Is Microsoft’s enterprise customers the one’s who are truly waiting for IE7 because of their ActiveX controls.

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