Gary Schare, Microsoft’s director of product management for Windows, has been assigned the unenviable task of explaining how Microsoft plans to respond to the Firefox challenge with a product whose features were last updated three years ago. He has said that current users of Internet Explorer will stick with it once they take into account “all the factors that led them to choose I.E. in the first place.” Beg your pardon. Choose? Doesn’t I.E. come bundled with Windows?
Mr. Schare has said that Mozilla’s Firefox must prove it can smoothly move from version 1.0 to 2.0, and has thus far enjoyed “a bit of a free ride.” If I were the spokesman for the software company that included the company’s browser free on every Windows PC, I’d be more careful about using the phrase “free ride.”
eWeek.com also has an article encouraging Windows users to switch to Firefox for security reasons.
People who don’t get security often say that if Firefox or any other open-source software were only as popular as IE, their security would be just as bad. Nope. Wrong.
First, open-source software is constantly being looked at by numerous developers. When problems are found, and they are all the time, they’re quickly fixed. With Microsoft code, you have to trust that its programmers are on the ball and that they’ll fix problems quickly. You look at their track record and you decide if that’s true. I know what I think.
Second, on Windows, open-source applications are just that: applications. Microsoft programs, by their very nature, are tied directly into the operating system kernel. This means, IE–and other Microsoft Windows applications such as Outlook–enables any security hole to potentially rip open the entire operating system.
Earlier, I linked to an interview with Mr. Schare where he named backwards compatibility as a major reason that Microsoft is not offering updates to Internet Explorer.
We could change the CSS support and many other standards elements within the browser rendering platform. But in doing so, we would also potentially break a lot of things. We have to strike the balance of what’s okay to break and what shouldn’t we break, and how do we roll this out in a way that does a clean break, if you will.
However, some people think Internet Explorer has already broken the web. And I think there is a lot, a whole lot, of merit in these arguments.
Now, Scott Ott has the full details on Microsoft’s latest plans to update IE.
UPDATE: Here’s a contrasting opinion. *[IE]: Internet Explorer