No more Internet Explorer for the Mac

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 13th, 2003 • 11:20 pm

Apparently, the head of Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit has confirmed that no future versions of Internet Explorer will be released for the Mac.

This is hardly surprising stuff. Microsoft kills the competition (Netscape) with a slightly superior product (at the time), taking advantage of its monopoly situation, and economic uncertainty, then stops developing the product for a couple of years — and then announces that it’s dead as soon as a new competitor finally surfaces and easily outclasses their stale product.

Of course, the official line is that browsers need to be “integrated with the OS” and that Apple is in the best position to do so with Mac OS X and Safari. The only trouble is that this vision of things has yet to find any basis in real-life computing. I know that Apple makes its “WebCore” rendering engine a “library” of sorts that’s kind of integrated with the OS itself — but it’s also available to third-party developers and is certainly not preventing anyone from developing a browser that does not use it.

I don’t see Apple using “WebCore” for the file browser in the Finder any time soon… What Microsoft does with their browser technology in Windows is of course their problem. But it is certainly not driven by any kind of intrinsic necessity.

A greater concern to Mac users should be that it’s far from easy to get banks and other online services to acknowledge the existence of Mac users, let alone properly support them. The fact is that there are still important sites that do not work properly in Safari. And I don’t particularly want to see Apple forced to turn Safari INTO an Explorer clone in ORDER for it to work with those sites. Can Apple develop Safari INTO a browser that works with all sites “optimized for Internet Explorer [for Windows]” without losing its greatness? I guess time will tell… Unfortunately, some Mac users don’t have time to wait and the minute Explorer ceases to work properly under Mac OS X (with Microsoft’s track record, you just know that any system UPDATE is liable to cause their applications to break), we’ll have a rather problematic situation.

And what of this other quote from the afore-mentioned head of the Mac BU?

[General manager of Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit] Ho confirmed, however, that the company would continue to support Internet Explorer 5 for the Mac for the foreseeable future.

I, for one, would very much like to know what “support Internet Explorer 5 for the Mac” means exactly. If the past couple of years are any indication, it means almost nothing. It certainly doesn’t include any significant improvements or bug fixes.

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