Internet Explorer is a dead albatross
UPDATED: added my comments on Dvorak's article
That's the subtitle of last John Dvorak's article in PC Magazine. I don't really agree with him and I am going to explain why below:
but not right now, I have more urgent things to do. Stay tuned, this article may grow a lot in the very near future.
- 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. I call it the Great Microsoft Blunder.
Ah. I previously though it was the lack of interest of Microsoft in the Internet, and I am not sure Windows Live and Office Live are not a much bigger blunder than that...
- It looks like a whopper that keeps whacking the company. The most recent bash came from the Eolas v. Microsoft patent suit over aspects of the ActiveX usage in Internet Explorer. Microsoft lost and was slapped with a $521 million settlement.
Oh come on. Eolas should never have won that case, and we all know it. Some key people did not say a word about it only because it's Microsoft and because they found quite funny to see the Giant caught in that mess, or because nobody ever pinged them. And we all know the whole US patent system on software is a mess that should be entirely reorganized. Otherwise...
- If the problem is not weird legal cases against the company, then it's the incredible losses in productivity at the company from the never-ending battle against spyware, viruses, and other security problems. All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first advertised.
Because other Microsoft products don't have security issues ? Windows ? Office ? IIS ? MSIE is just a bit more visible, that's all.
- All of Microsoft's Internet-era public-relations and legal problems (in some way or another) stem from Internet Explorer. If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column—billions.
This is absolutely ridiculous. Microsoft's involvement in the Web just helped the Web be what it is today. At some point, Microsoft was the only company actively participating in all working groups of the World Wide Web Consortium. CSS would not be the success we know it is without Microsoft. So what Microsoft did with MSIE helped selling Microsoft software solutions for the Web: databases, operating systems, everything. If you look at the financial figures of the MSIE team, sure, it's a 0 and a big number. But the TREMENDOUS force of Microsoft is its ability to build a local center of loss to redistribute incomes on all other divisions. In other terms, the MSIE team acts - as always acted as an R&D center in terms of finances.
- All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first advertised.
But that's exactly what Microsoft did ! Why do you think IE did not progress between 2001 and 2005 ? Because the people were reassigned to other more important tasks and Vista was clearly the most important of those !
- Microsoft should pull the browser out of the OS and discontinue all IE development immediately
Yes for the former, no for the latter. Choice is good, competition is good. Having IE in this market is good.
- Of this I can assure you. People will not stop buying Microsoft Windows if there is no built-in browser. Opera and/or Firefox can be bundled with the OS as a courtesy, and all the defaults can lead to Microsoft.com if need be.
Again, MSIE is the entry point for other Microsoft products. And Microsoft has a lot of customers complaining about the age of IE6. They need IE7, they need to provide their customers with an in-house solution. Leaving that field on windows-based computers is just not a option they can politically afford, it would be an horrific signal sent to the customers. But Dvorak is right on one point : people will still buy Windows if MSIE is not in it.
- Of course we already know that this will never happen, since Microsoft is a creature of habit. So it will forever be plagued by its greatest blunder ever. Have fun, boys.
That's is so short-sighted... Microsoft is also a creature of success - and what a success - never forget it. Oh, and the guys working there do have fun - I know quite a bunch of people there - and they're probably laughing at Dvorak today.