This is actually quite a momentus occasion! Hearing that Microsoft is going to retire the IE brand is something I’ve been waiting to hear for years. From recent surveys it seems apparent that many people still aren’t really aware of what a brower is let alone know much about them in detail.
IE started out it’s life in conflict and it seems that conflict followed it throughout it’s entire career. The very reason for it’s existance in the early days was as a reaction to the release of Netscape Navigator. It was born in order to crush Navigator. I think the problem stemmed from Netscape also claiming that eventually the browser would be the main deal on the desktop, very forward thinking at more or less true already. The move to “The Cloud” is certainly moving a lot of things that way, the release of the ChromeBook type machines attests to this fact as well.
The problem has been that IE has never really payed much attesion to standards. The box model of page layouts for instance. It’s just never played nicely really making cross-browser issues a full time job for a web developer. Another major problem with this browser is the number of proprietary “bits” that have appeard through the years. The idea of a web site that only works in IE is simply laughable but that really was a goal for a while in my opinion. A hugely stupid motive.
Going back to the idea of conflict I always found it amazing that Microsoft could on one hand argue in court that IE was crucial to the working of it’s operating system thus trying to fend off the anti-trust rulings. Whilst at the same time IE6 was kicking around as the latest major version for 5 years. IE6 was released in 2001 and IE7 arrived in 2006. 5 years in the tech world is several lifetimes, 5 years in the interwebs is hundreds of lifetimes. How they could argue this point is incredible. The conflict coming here in that the idea to split up Microsoft was a very real one, all that risk to crush a competitor …
After they release IE7 they started to slowly try to bring it inline with standards whilst it also had a major problem – backwards compatibility. Any app that has to sport a compatibility mode had failed in my opinion. Either the current architecture is wrong or it is having to support an aging set of fuck ups in it’s past. So not only was IE born in conflict, it nearly killed the company and also creates conflict for the developers that have to work with it daily. With the next few versions being so different the cross-browser nightmares of the past became the IE-version-cross-browser nightmares. It actually became harder to cater with all the various issues and rendering modes of all the different versions of IE. Utterly broken.
In my opinion IE is something Microsoft should have buried a very long time ago.
Lets hope they don’t do it all over again with Project Spartan!