IE-Free World Could Free Developers

    April 25, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Without the Internet Explorer browser, Microsoft would be free from having to continually patch it, and web developers could build applications without having to worry about satisfying IE’s finicky behavior.

Picture a world where CSS standards mean more to web developers than weird CSS offsets caused by Microsoft’s browser. Imagine a place where people use web browsers that don’t flunk the Acid2 Test in a splash of red across the browser window.

Now that you’ve returned from Norway, consider the words of columnist John Dvorak, who refers to Internet Explorer as ‘The Great Microsoft Blunder’:

I think it can now be safely said, in hindsight, that Microsoft’s entry into the browser business and its subsequent linking of the browser into the Windows operating system looks to be the worst decision-and perhaps the biggest, most costly gaffe-the company ever made.

Dvorak references the recent Eolas v Microsoft patent infringement case. That cost Gates and company some $521 million in loose change. There’s no way to know just how much time Microsoft has spent over the years developing and fixing IE (unless Mini-Microsoft can find out and tell us.)

As Dvorak suggested, it’s long past the time for Microsoft to send IE off to go walkabout with Microsoft Bob. That would mean quite a change for web developers.

No more IE-only development tricks. Build the app, test the app, release the app.

No more complaints from users of other browsers who can’t use applications due to browser lock-in (remember the IE-only fiasco regarding federal relief forms for Hurricane Katrina relief?)

No more vendors locking their customers into using IE, and continuing to be exposed to zero-day exploits, because the vendor’s proprietary applications only work with IE.

That would mean Microsoft would have to give up part of its desktop dominance to another application. In an enterprise environment, users usually have Office or Outlook or IE open. Office makes money for Microsoft. IE makes expenses for Microsoft.

There just seems to be some weird perception of the desktop space that the use of another browser by default causes Microsoft some pain every time it happens. Do users care if the browser is set to go to Google’s main search box?

Much of the world runs on Windows. Look no further than Microsoft’s cash pile and $280 billion USD market cap. With the company releasing a third beta of IE 7 today, how much bigger would Microsoft be without the expense of patching and rewriting IE?

And how much would web developers love never having to see their carefully crafted applications riding a few pixels off in a browser window again?


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.