Microsoft to drop Internet Explorer? No chance!

By Craig Buckler
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trashing IEThe Internet rumor mill is working overtime today. Several sites are claiming that Microsoft is on the verge of giving up on Internet Explorer or, at the very least, they will replace the Trident HTML rendering engine. I’m not certain where these rumors started, but several reference a blog article at InfoWorld.

Rumor 1: Microsoft will drop Internet Explorer
There is absolutely no evidence Microsoft is considering this. Why would they? As a product, IE is as ubiquitous as Windows.

Browsers may not raise revenue directly, but the manufacturers have immense influence over Internet users. Mozilla revenue hit $75 million in 2007 primarily because Google was used as the default Firefox homepage.

Microsoft has far more to gain: they have a wide range of products to sell, thousands of employees to pay, and millions of shareholders to satisfy. Why would they abandon IE when the majority of people still use it as their gateway to the Web? Since every OS needs a browser, what would they replace it with?

Rumor 2: Internet Explorer will adopt WebKit
This appears to stem from a quote made by Steve Balmer at a developer conference in Sydney during 2008. A student asked:

Why is IE still relevant and why is it worth spending money on rendering engines when there are open source ones available that can respond to changes in Web standards faster?

The Microsoft’s CEO responded that the question was “cheeky”, but went on to say:

Open source is interesting. Apple has embraced Webkit and we may look at that, but we will continue to build extensions for IE 8.

Steve Balmer is a successful business man, but he does not directly control Microsoft’s development teams or technical decisions. He could have stated that open source browsers were evil and he intended to wipe them off the face of the planet – but how well would that have gone down?

Microsoft are actively developing Trident and there is no evidence they intend to drop it.

Rumor 3: Internet Explorer will use “Gazelle”
Gazelle is an experimental prototype created by Microsoft. It uses OS-like resource management techniques that, in theory, could make browsers more robust, reliable and secure.

It is possible Microsoft will adopt Gazelle or some of its technology in IE. Whether than will occur in IE9 is another matter.

Do not believe the hype: Internet Explorer will be around for many years … it is taking long enough to get rid of IE6!

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    IE is biggest culprit in Cross Browsers compatibility issues.

  • I think there are a 4th method: Self Destroy. :) Please hear us Microsoft!

  • I think there are a 4th method: Self Destroy. :) Please hear us Microsoft!

    Please hear who? You think Microsoft is going to see your one sentence comment and actually be persuaded to destroy their product?

    Also I checked out your website, it looks very nice but your logo looks exactly like the Flash logo.

  • Also I checked out your website, it looks very nice but your logo looks exactly like the Flash logo.

    What’s the saying? Oh yeah: Good artists copy, great artists steal :o)

  • randywehrs

    IE is expired, and like that 2-year-old pack of crackers in the far corner of your pantry, it will still be around for a long time. Microsoft would be smart to just go ahead and make IE open source, but something tells me it will never happen; there will still bee too many naive users who use it and don’t know what they’re missing. Just so long as they never put anything out like IE6 ever again, it’s fine by me! Let the people have their stale crackers!

  • Paul H

    I don’t care what browser it is, all I care about is that they remain standards compliant and have a reasonable development track.

    My biggest gripe with IE is how they prioritize their problems. They just need to update their product more consistently, and stop adding so many whistles and bells, that don’t help.

    Since they are the biggest player on the block, they should be the one developers turn to for consistency, not the ones developers dislike for being tragically out of touch. I mean, there is still not a very good developers tool for IE – it just doesn’t make any sense! I still think Microsoft just doesn’t realize how much better they could be by being inclusive, rather than exclusive with their web browser.

    But hey, I haven’t used IE since like 2002.

  • curtismchale

    honestly I’m care less about IE 8. They are doing good things with it. I really just want IE 6 to die.

  • @halfasleeps: Dude, it was a joke. I know MS will never hear me with this sentence.

    Also i did my personal logo before Flash CS3 release. So there are no inspiration or stealing.

  • fortunate13

    Well, we can all hope that someday MS will jump on board and make good, innovative products again. They seem to be flailing about out in Redmond trying to play catch up to apple’s in roads into home entertainment (Zune….anyone?) and mozilla. They need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, and worry about innovation on their own. They are grown up now. Time to kick em outta the house.

  • Matt

    Most likely they will rewrite major portions of the UI and rendering code using something like WPF. It is a technology that was made for this kind of thing.

  • It would be nice to think those rumours are true, but back here on planet earth….

  • Jack Matier


    I knew it was hype and bought into it anyway.

    I had a dream

  • msdude

    Have you considered the rumor could be that they are dropping IE6 officially?

  • pampado

    It is not MS fault that most out there are using IE6. It was released for its time and in my opinion there is not much wrong with IE8 which is why most people never mention it. IE is good for the others tring to overtake it as they have to work harder which in the end benefits all.

  • danh2000

    Also I checked out your website, it looks very nice but your logo looks exactly like the Flash logo.

    @halfasleeps jealous? why on earth make that comment here?

  • @halfasleeps: Dude, it was a joke. I know MS will never hear me with this sentence.

    OK I apologize, I just always hear people complaining about stuff just because everyone else is. I am not advocating IE either I just think it doesn’t solve anything to just go around bashing things instead of discussing plausible solutions.

    @halfasleeps jealous? why on earth make that comment here?

    I guess a PM probably would have been more appropriate than calling him out, I do apologize for that too, I guess I was just in a mood.

  • danh2000


    I guess I was just in a mood.

    Mate, we all have bad days :)

  • It would be interesting if Microsoft decided to drop there rendering engine and use the one Mozilla uses. This way Firefox and IE would all be using the same rendering engine. IE comes shipped with Windows. If they use the same rendering engine then what reason would u have to even install Firefox?

    Imagine a web development world where all browsers share the same rendering engine and interpret a webpage no matter what language exactly the same. Browsers like Firefox, Chrome, IE, Opera, Flock, Safari — all of them would interpret a webpage the exact same way if they all shared the same rendering engine. As a web developer, I would love to see this happen.

    Imagine all of these teams joining together to bring 1 unified rendering engine up to HTML 5 standards, CSS3, I think the benefits are overwhelmingly apparent. With everyone contributing in different areas, the advancement speed of the internet would be dramatically increased too.

    I see no reason why this shouldn’t happen.

    What makes a browser great anyway? Is it the rendering engine? No, its not, not really. Here is why. The average user doesn’t care if there webpage uses Trident or whatever to render the page – they just want to see a webpage. They like a browser because of the features it provides. Alot of people switched to Firefox, not because of the rendering engine it uses (when have u ever heard the argument “hey, you gotta use IE because it uses the Trident rendering engine!” Its not even a selling point for the masses (it might mean something to a programmer or web developer, however.)

  • yogomozilla

    MS can have their cake and eat it to by developing Trident and bundling the BSD/LGPL licensed webkit as an option for developers to trigger

    meta name=”x-ie-render-with” content=”webkit”
    header(‘x-ie-render-with: webkit’);

    Developers can specify either of the two methods and have their sites rendered using the same engine used by Safari, Chrome and Konquerer+Webkit. Won’t fix the stale smell of IE6 though unfortunately but at least testing, bug fixing and associated costs in time and money to clients will reduce.

  • @IJoeR
    You make some interesting points, but I’m not convinced that a single unified rendering engine development team would be good. Browser innovation is largely driven by competition.

    Look what happened when IE6 had a 95% market share. MS announced they would drop the browser as an installable product and stopped development. The Firefox team stated that they were glad of competition from IE, Google and Apple because it kept them on their toes.

    A healthy browser market it a good thing. Of course, it makes testing more difficult, but watch out for a couple of articles on SitePoint next week that may help you.

  • awpoopy

    It’s not a rumor. IE8 is the last IE.

  • In many cases the name Internet Explorer is synonymous with security problems, constant patching/updating and poor support for modern web apps – this is a liability in many cases – and this liability may trump the strength of such a large installed base and people’s general familiarity. The people in IT and/or early adopters/new tech users do not like this browser by a large margin and that margin grows larger each day – this in undeniable.

    I will make a gentleman’s wager that the name Internet Explorer is dropped at some point in the not to distant future – 2 years or less. IE is not only not a very good browser (and it is “just” a browser – pretty easy to replace), it’s also not cool with the “kids” – sounds like a losing proposition to me.

    Finally the truth is, that on near any very modern RIA/web app type site the logs show paltry number for IE use of any flavor – because these apps don’t run well in IE and/or the manufacturer (like 37signals) outright no longer supports it for their apps because it causes development to stagnate.

    Yes, old ecommerce sites and legacy rich apps might work in IE, but those were built some time ago.

    In any event, don’t know if they will keep the name Gazelle but I think it is a fantastic name and the isolation/sandboxing tech and the rest does indeed sound well considered (helps to have the current Chrome and Safari to pillage ideas from too).

  • It would be nice if Microsoft could just bring out some descent software to make web development easier and to keep other (actually good) companies progressing their software at a nice rate instead of the recent crap they have made.

    I always find it amusing how it took Microsoft 8 attempts at making a descent browser whereas Mozilla made a FAR better browser in just 2 versions (never used Firefox 1… it might have been just one version!).

  • @Robbo89

    I always find it amusing how it took Microsoft 8 attempts at making a descent browser whereas Mozilla made a FAR better browser in just 2 versions

    Woohhh, hold on! Don’t use version numbers as a comparison. First, IE1 was never publicly released (I think it was in an NT patch somewhere) and MS bought it anyway. IE2 and 3 came out within months of each other. And IE4, 5, 5.5 and 6 were released during a 4 year period. The main reason for the rapid increase was to make it catch up with the Netscape version numbers!

    As for Firefox, it’s roots are in Netscape. Version 4 was so awful that Mozilla rewrote the engine which took years. I don’t think NS5 ever appeared because IE6 was already out. NS6 was still fairly nasty and few people used it.

    Firefox was originally called Phoenix. That changed to Firebird and eventually Firefox 1.0 in early 2004. It uses Gecko which was the engine for NS6 and Mozilla 1.

    Finally, Opera’s in version 9.5! Fortunately, browser vendors aren’t bothered about version number comparisons these days.

  • Lol. I knew I was exaggerating but I didn’t know it was by that much :p
    I also didn’t know Firefox was from netscape.

    Still, Microsoft can’t do anything right! The new MSN is as user friendly as using a console! (I know I’m exaggerating again but it’s MS!)