Let me be the first to say...
> "Our rallying cry for Windows 10 became 'the web just works'," Morris wrote.
It's been "just working" for many years, despite your best attempts to fsck everything up Redmond.
Microsoft says it decided to start from scratch with a new web rendering engine for Windows 10 because keeping up with web standards while maintaining compatibility with older, noncompliant versions of Internet Explorer had simply become too much of a burden. "Fixing long standing interoperability bugs with other modern …
Only someone who isn't involved with developing apps for the web would say "it just works".
It works eventually, most of the time, if you squint and look at it out the corner of one eye while sacrificing the odd chicken on most days. If you're lucky. And if after all that it still doesn't work for some reason, try another browser.
If you don't think that's the reality then you are deluded/uninformed/inexperienced.
Not that I think Microsoft can do much about it.
By starting again and eschewing WebKit, going their own way AGAIN, all they are doing is adding ANOTHER variant to deal with.
@Deltics - "Only someone who isn't involved with developing apps for the web would say "it just works".
Another web app developer, sharing his vast wisdom. How useful.
Maybe I should revise my statement - It's just worked for many years, despite the best attempts of Microsoft and web app developers to fsck it up. And I'll throw Adobe into the mix just for the hell of it.
By starting again and eschewing WebKit, going their own way AGAIN, all they are doing is adding ANOTHER variant to deal with.
Of course - and you can be certain that M$ won't get it right! They'll just introduce a whole new set of incompatibilities for web developers to have to cope with.
My websites all now warn visitors (if Internet Exploder is detected) that they are using an insecure and unreliable browser on an insecure "operating system" and that the site is unlikely to render correctly on their defective web browser. Our visitors use of Internot Exploiter has reduced to under 3%. People are beginning to realise that M$ isn't the answer (except to some really stupid questions)!
Oooh, how very 20 years ago of you.
I remember when Netscape started wresting market share from Mosaic (and whoever else there was back then) - suddenly I started seeing sites that were blacked out if Netscape was detected, apart from a little box stating "This site is Netscape crippled", usually followed by a rant on the site owner's part about everything that was wrong about the aforementioned browser.
Most of these sites I stopped bothering with - although a few were useful for my university work, so would use Mosaic for them and Netscape for everything else.
Now, this was also the same sort of time that it was trendy to have a hit counter on your site. And I very quickly noticed that on the few "Netscape crippled" sites I did continue to bother with, there was a dramatic drop in the rate said hit counters increased by following their being blacked out for Netscape.
@AlbertH - you've given us figures stating that the number of IE-using visitors to your sites has dropped to under 3%. But this is kind of like Microsoft's trick with Windows Phones - "we've shipped X thousand handsets... but we're not going to tell you how many we've actually sold". So what about your overall visitor figures - how have they changed since you've added these warnings about "defective" browsers and "insecure" operating systems?
Personally, if I saw a warning on a website worded in the manner you've given, I'd drop the site like a hot potato, as that sort of message makes me think "they're trying to make me scared and trick me into downloading something that turns out to be a load of spyware".
... or is this (and I suspect this purely because of the heavy uses phrasing like "Internot Exploiter", "defective", "operating system" in quotes, etc) just an excuse to have a rant "because it's Microsoft"?
(For the record, I'm a web developer, and would be the first to cheer if IE was removed from the face of the earth).
That was so dunderheaded and downright inflammatory I feel justified in replying, "well in that case I will do all that is humanly possible to avoid any of 'em". I only wish Lazarus Long was still around to furnish me with something more suitably acerbic..
"My websites all now warn visitors (if Internet Exploder is detected) that they are using an insecure and unreliable browser on an insecure "operating system" and that the site is unlikely to render correctly on their defective web browser. Our visitors use of Internot Exploiter has reduced to under 3%. People are beginning to realise that M$ isn't the answer (except to some really stupid questions)!"
Interesting. You _do_ know that it's trivial to have your web browser spoof all kinds of things, including which browser it is and what OS its running on, should the user want to? Hint: right now this browser is pretending to be Firefox running on Windows 8.1. It isn't. I have it configured to pretend to be Firefox _precisely_ because I've just come from a site run by an idiot who thinks like you do. As of the end of the month (tomorrow! Hoo-rah!) I will no longer have to have anything whatsoever to do with that idiot and will avoid him and all his works forever.
You obviously have a very poor understanding of what "spoofing" actually does.
It's the same as a butch sailor wandering about saying his name is "Shirley", underneath it is STILL a butch sailor.
There are a large number of websites/ businesses that WILL NOT WORK with anything other than a user running 'windows & I.E" and no amount of 'spoofing' a character string will fix them, in many cases they require a VM of windows XP-8 to function correctly.
Moreover, he said, Redmond is concerned that other browser makers' reliance on WebKit is creating a "monoculture on the web" – something that today's Microsoft is apparently against.
Sorry, this is coming from Microsoft?!? What with the open sourcing of .net and now this... Either I've fallen through a wormhole into an alternate universe, satan has his skis on and is at the top of the slope, or there's some elaborate trick going on...
Yeah, probably option 3 then.
> They did not opensource .NET, just parts of it
Yes, actually they did. All of it. See for yourself. Quit it with the FUD.
Yes, actually they did. All of it.
No. Just .NET Core, ASP.NET, and EF. That's a portion of the .NET framework.
Also NuGet and the compiler, Roslyn. A fraction of the tooling.
That's probably all you use, so fill your boots - but there's a lot more to .NET than that.
Apart from mono, am I missing anything?
.NET Core is .NET from now on. You run .NET core and install any other bits you need via nuget.
The 4.x framework isn't fully open source yet - and it may never be fully - but that's not really the point. Everything you need to develop new code is open and you shouldn't be using 4.x (after VS2015 is fully released) for anything except supporting old code.
Can't see opera having enough of a market share to be worthwhile including in this argument, there's plenty of other webkit browsers too, but they don't have market share.
So that leaves Safari.
I'm happy for MS to build their own though, hope it works for them and performs at similar levels, if they can just then keep up with the others that would be good.
Finally more importantly, if they stop supporting anyone using anything less than IE10, maybe the rest of us can stop supporting the hideous creations that were previous versions. I cry every time someone says they have users using IE7 still and they want the site to work still
Thy art lucky lad*.
We'd dream of be able to only have to go back as far as IE7.
We still have client's on IE6 and that have no migration strategy.
We also have a bunch of clients who are getting ready to roll out their upgrade from Win XP to Windows 7.
IE7, ha. Lucky bugger.
* The author of this post was born in Yorkshire and knows the the Four Yorkshire Men sketch pre dates Monty Python's Flying Circus.
@AC - "It also dates back to that dark period when Microsoft was more interested in screwing the competion, rather than looking after the end users."
When did that "dark period" end? Still the same old MS as far as I can see. Call me when they embrace ODF as their default office formats.
Mate of mine on Windows 8.1, trying to be helpful, created a document for me using Powerpoint, and saved it in "native" ODP format. LibreOffice (on my Ubuntu 14.04) would not even open it. He then saved it again as ppt, and LibreOffice rendered it perfectly. If that's the best interoperability that MS can achieve, fsck 'em is what I say.
"Call me when they embrace ODF as their default office formats."
Why would they do that when ODF is vastly inferior to Microsoft's own formats?
However the first thing that current versions of Office ask you to do on launch is to choose between ODF and Microsoft formats - so Microsoft have provided a neutral no default settings approach...
Why would they do that when ODF is vastly inferior to Microsoft's own formats?
Call me when Microsoft stops changing default document formats with every new release of Office...so we're all forced to upgrade if we want to read the documents someone just sent us.
I generate all my Word documents using the Word'97 format, haven't had a complaint yet.
… you guys started it!
How long did we have to put up with Internet Explorer 6's crappiness?
Years. Many years.
Windows XP was released with IE6 back in 2002. It was 2006 before IE7 came along, and all that did was add tabs and a few minor rendering tweaks, woohoo! Alongside Firefox and Safari of the day, it was craptastic.
Three years later we got IE8, the last version that Windows XP users ever saw. Now we're starting to pay lipservice to web standards, but it's still a joke.
IE9 was the first version that started to get anywhere. It was released in 2011.
So it took 9 years for Microsoft to get off their lazy arse and deliver a decent browser, and in that time the opposition has overtaken them. First it was the former-Netscape codebase being stripped down producing Phoenix^WFirebird^H^H^H^Hfox, started to get attention.
Then Apple saw KHTML in the Konqueror web browser, and forked it to become Webkit. Google took webkit and ran with it in Chrome, beating Microsoft over the head with it before forking it to become Blink.
Both parties here focussing on small devices upon which IE was even worse than its desktop counterpart.
And now Microsoft is crying because the mess they created is causing them so much pain today? Please excuse me, I have to go outside before I convulse into uncontrollable fits of laughter.
"Shortage of government?"
Is there such a thing?
Yes. Every time Belgium has an election, there is a shortage of government for up to a year and a half. Interestingly, things generally improve during these periods, and then go crap again once they all stop infighting and start working out what they can break.
...and a clever move. Webkit is the deal maker. You have Chrome, Safari and Opera already in that camp, these three are making apps that they can easily interchange - that means it grows in power constantly and works across the 3 major platforms. Its shocking that to date - Internet explorer doesn't work on linux or android out the box.
Ye Gods these comments boards make me cringe sometimes! Yes, Microsoft were evil, and yes they're trying to be much better now almost certainly because they're forced to be, because they're not the dominant force they once were. I really don't care! If they're building a new rendering engine that is fully standards compliant, great! If you don't like it, fine, don't use it. However, IF it works better than the competition then I for one just might. At the point in time where someone else makes an even better one, I'll move off onto that one. And you can take your damned quasi-religious browser bigotry and stuff it up your fat pimply arses!
If anyone thinks for a second that Google/Apple/Name-Your-Wannabe-Monopolist-Of-Choice wouldn't be just as crappy and evil as Microsoft were given the same market dominance then you've got a lot more faith in human nature than me. They're all (potential) scum, now just treat each product on it's own merits at any given point in time. If it works well - and if it's properly standards-compliant so you have an exit strategy! - use it. If it doesn't, use something else. Keep 'em competing hard with each other and we'll get better products all round. Let one product or company win and you'll end up with IE6 - albeit one built by Google/Apple/Whoever.
"If anyone thinks for a second that Google/Apple/Name-Your-Wannabe-Monopolist-Of-Choice wouldn't be just as crappy and evil as Microsoft were given the same market dominance......"
They are perfectly capable of turning a deaf ear to such a self-evident truth.
> I am damned happy it does not
IE 6, 7, 8 and/or 9 can run on Linux.
Because Windows cannot install more than one version of IE at one time it was useful to use Linux and install multiple versions so that web pages could be tested on the variations that occur with those different versions.
> IE 6, 7, 8 and/or 9 can run on Linux.
They can indeed, but I found it was not always a reliable test since (at least using Wine) some critical aspects were delegated to the operating system which behaved differently. For example testing PNG alpha transparency would provide misleadingly optimistic results in my experience.
"Because Windows cannot install more than one version of IE at one time it was useful to use Linux and install multiple versions so that web pages could be tested on the variations that occur with those different versions."
Or you could just press F12 in IE and select the mode you want it to behave like...
"that's good practice."
I doubt it.
Actually I am pretty certain that starting from scratch will make them spend lots of time fixing bugs that were already fixed years ago in the current code.
But then refactoring code means reading and understand code written by other people and, really, where's the fun in that?
"Moreover, he said, Redmond is concerned that other browser makers' reliance on WebKit is creating a "monoculture on the web" – something that today's Microsoft is apparently against"
I admit, I LOL'd.
Are there any Anthropomorphic Analysts or similarly titled creatures that can tell us what the approximate cycle time is for "Screwing Up - Learning Lesson - Succeeding - Forgetting Lesson - Screwing Up" in the industry?
I swear humans used to be able to hold things up for a good portion of a lifespan, but at the speed of change today it's like we can now fit several failcycles in.
> "Fixing long standing interoperability bugs with other modern browsers could actually break sites who have coded to the IE-specific behavior,"
"Fixing long standing international standards panellists a second time around could be difficult and will be expensive,"
There, fixed you advert for you Reg. Carrion.
Microsoft doesn't write code. People at Microsoft write code. Microsoft is a corporation, not an individual. I doubt that corporate embarassment in front of a small number of non-customer developers is a serious motivating factor for the decision makers at the top of the company.
"But Morris said that the idea of starting with open source didn't last long in Redmond because Microsoft wanted to control its own code."
He didn't say that at all, not at all. That's just your spin on what he really said, which is the need for speed of delivering an interoperable engine faster, as he said in the very next sentence of your post:
"Given the engineering effort required, we found that we could deliver an interoperability focused engine to customers significantly faster if we started from our own engine (especially if unshackled from legacy compatibility concerns), rather than building up a new browser around an open-source engine.,"
"Microsoft says it decided to start from scratch with a new web rendering engine for Windows 10"
"I's too much trouble to fix, so let's throw it out and start over", is one of the biggest danger signs in programming, amirite Netscape, Longhorn?
All new bugs, delays, and project over reach predicted whilst we're promised the Sun and Moon on a stick.
>>""I's too much trouble to fix, so let's throw it out and start over", is one of the biggest danger signs in programming, amirite Netscape, Longhorn?"
You're very right and it was what I came here to say when I read the article. I'll look at it fairly when it arrives, but this is a danger sign to me.
Still, I'm glad they didn't go the Webkit route. It would have been bad for them and it would have been bad for Firefox to be isolated like that.
The biggest issue with IE is it's glacial update cycle. Updates only ever seem to fix the legion security issues and rarely update it's functionality. Compare that with Chrome & Firefox which are updated in pretty much monthly cycles.
Whenever I have to test a site using an IE, it just looks, errm, crap. There's something about the way that IE looks and interacts that makes it look and feel like an unfinished amateur product. Just take the naff way it handles <select> dropdowns with it's script-kiddie JQuery-esque animation. But I suppose this is the same for all of Windows when you compare it to other operating systems.
You seem to be missing the fact that for the enterprise customer this is a big advantage. You don't want to be spending time messing with new releases of software that might break things. For us the stupid release cycle of Firefox along with the total pain up the arse that it is to configure in an enterprise environment are the main reasons we don't use it, Chrome not so bad but IE makes things easier.
This is what the web application looks like from the inside of various "enterprise customers" I've worked for.
Back in the dawn of prehistory, several mission-critical requirements were coded as intranet web applications, IE6 was the dominant browser at the time, so everything was written to run on IE6.
In the intervening centuries, the corporate standard browser has been updated to IE7 and the legacy applications have been fixed, but that was such a colossal effort that nobody wants to do it again. In the meantime, lots more important web applications have been written, but they've all been born into a world of prehistoric IE versions, so nobody really knows if they can be updated.
IT professionals within the company all use Firefox or Chrome (they generally have the local admin rights necessary to install them), but development continues to target old IE because that's the standard desktop build. New applications are tested on all browsers, and great unhappiness is caused by how much faster and better-looking they are, even on the latest IE version.
There's a plan to upgrade all the desktops to a more recent IE, but this will involve fixing all the legacy applications. Apart from the expense, this is a big risk, because the people who built them have gone to a better world and the documentation is either fat and uninformative or non-existent.
Internet Explorer started life as Spyglass Inc "Mosaic" browser code. Most things we get from Microsoft started out as another company's code that Microsoft built on top of. Can you imagine if they learned to do well making their own code from scratch. If they get good at it they might even be able to create a whole new OS without all the old quirks and behaviors of their current NT based one one.
> Internet Explorer started life as Spyglass Inc "Mosaic" browser code.
Almost true. Spyglass said that they originally planned to use Mosaic but wrote new code for IE.
MS did not pay Spyglass though. The deal was that Spyglass would get some amount ($5?) for every copy sold. MS then 'gave it away' and claimed that none were 'sold'. Even when MS claimed that it could not be removed from Windows they also claimed it was not 'sold'.
>Almost true. Spyglass said that they originally planned to use Mosaic but wrote new code for IE.
Hey cool data. I learned some more stuff here. It always amazes me what Reg readers know. I guess it's a big part of why I like this place so much.
...If you ever consider writing for The Reg. You have my vote.
``Almost true. Spyglass said that they originally planned to use Mosaic but wrote new code for IE.''
Er, you sure? Wasn't the IE6 "About IE" still mentioning "contains code from NCSA Mosaic"?
I don't have an IE6 at hand right now but I'm pretty sure it did.
The Wikipedia IE page claims that IE wasn't free of Mosaic code until IE7.
I am always amused by the revisionist view of history when it comes to browsers. When web apps were first being developed there was really only a choice of Netscape or IE and bloody few standards. At the time Microsoft's browser worked better for most things, which is why so many apps were written for IE 5, 5.5 and 6. The fact that the standards bodies chose not to adopt MS extensions but go another way is really a large cause of the problems we have now. And yes it was a deliberate decision to spite MS because of how MS had beaten Netscape into dust. Go research the archives if you really want to know what happened.
Yes I know there were a few minor browsers around in the late nineties like Opera but they had little market share (<2%). Only Netscape and IE mattered. Safari didn't arrive until 2002 and Chrome only in 2008. Firefox was originally a Netscape fork and only got market share much later.
BTW, how about using a correct image to lead articles about Spartan. They should feature Master Chief not 300. This is MS after all.
At the time they both entered an arms race of implementing incompatible features.
And at a later time Netscape had a very unstable browser that it eventually stopped loading pages for no other because it was feeling moody, while IE always seemed responsive and did not stop loading.
However it was MS who decided to turn their horrible-insecure-by-design browser into part of the OS, shove it down the throats of a mostly unsuspecting public who doesn't knew better at the time, and give it for free to further screw the competition.
And then holding the market captive for 10 years.
And no, if MS includes a new browser in Windows 10, IE is not going anywhere.
IE will still be there... forever, like most of MS's old shit that can be found all over the place in windows, or just think a copy of mshtml.dll is not going to be shipped with Windows 10? or Shdocvw.dll or WinInet.dll for that matter??? (Good luck using pop3 in outlook without those btw, ((Yes, it is that intermixed)))
MS is embarked on a whitewash marketing campaign, they are still the 96%-95% percent market dominance, in no danger of any immediate problem, however they have lots and lots of cash, they are aware they have an image problem, and they are going step by step on a long check-list trying to correct that, just in case one day they get competition and hey lose 1% of business based on a reputation issue.
MS hasn't changed an inch because Nadella is the visible head. And no that petty whitewash .NET open sourcing exercise is not proper open source no matter how you look at it, LGPL, GPL, MIT or Apache or no cigar.
> When web apps were first being developed there was really only a choice of Netscape or IE
It sounds like you were rather late to the game. Before IE existed there were several browsers: Mosaic, IBM WebExplorer, MacWeb, ...
> The fact that the standards bodies chose not to adopt MS extensions but go another way is really a large cause of the problems we have now.
Nonsense. There were established standards but Microsoft added extensions (as you say) that were deliberately non-standard is order to encourage web developers to make IE-only sites. For example FrontPage (a bought in product) was changed to generate those non-standard extensions to ensure that IE-only sites were really easy to make.
This comes after so many years when I had to deal with local trolls who wanted to move the company Web pages to something IE-compatible repeating the Redmont crap about IE being so secure and more standard than the standards themselves. Luckily the guys who had such views could not deliver any working code, compatible or not, so they usually vanished pretty quickly.
And ... the worldwide corporation I work for (which shall remain nameless) is *still* on XP/IE6. New PCs (every two years) are still imaged with it.
Most sites work ok with IE6 but I've had to switch to Firefox for my personal surfing for a couple otf sites that bring IE6 to its knees - I'm looking at you, androidcentral and phandroid.
Companies are still writing Apps that need some strange behavior of IE to function properly. Just yesterday we had a secured printing system delivered that needs IE to save some administrative settings. Other settings can be saved with any browser in any OS, but a few key ones need IE, and we are pretty much a non-Redmond organization. The "new" printing system also uses IE to look at AD for authentication. I guess it's lucky we still have 10 users that need AD for another system that only runs on Redmond's offerings. Every time we (coal facers) try to banish Windows, our higher ups keep drinking the Kool-Aid!
I wish Spartan well, but in the end IE, the behemoth it is, has contaminated too many vendors and their systems to ever be fully eliminated in my life time.
Where is the toilet paper on the shoe icon when we need it?
OK, so they are throwing out the old buggy code and writing some new
buggy code, good.
But they aren't actually throwing Trident out, so they still have to maintain it.
The next question is, are they:
i) Incuding Trident as standard and activating it automatically when a
broken IE-specific site is encountered. -> The detection code is unlikely to ever work properly, and will usually cause subtle and non-repeatable failures.
ii) Make Trident an option -> Microsoft gets a new revenue stream, IT managers get a headache of deciding whether to use it, and how to tell users when they should switch, if they do.
Final question, are they insane?
The argument that Microsoft could make a browser totally from scratch faster than just basing one on WebKit? I think this is probably nonsense. HOWEVER:
"Moreover, he said, Redmond is concerned that other browser makers' reliance on WebKit is creating a "monoculture on the web" – something that today's Microsoft is apparently against."
This is 100% true; with Chrome and Opera using Blink (WebKit-derived) and Apple & KDE using WebKit, you're down to like WebKit, Blink and Firefox engines dominating the browser market share. It is "healthier" and overall better to have more independent HTML implementations than fewer.
It's not my area of software development but I'd have thought writing a web rendering engine would be quite a considerable undertaking which in my mind means it'll have a non-trivial number of bugs. I'm sure it'll be tested every which way but it'll still have bugs, that's the nature of the beast.
As a web developer though I'm really in two minds whether I think this is a great or awful announcement. On the one hand competition is a good thing but at the same time I can't help feeling that we'd all be better off if there was just one rendering engine with one set of weird behaviour to remember. If I'm honest I think I just don't really care because what I really want is for someone to given me a way to build a desktop like interface in a web page that doesn't require an insane amount of effort and has an end result that works just about everywhere.
I can't stand firefox, chrome, or safari style interface defaults, and there seems to be a limit to the tweaks I am able/willing to do to make the interfaces function more as IE's does, which is the one that matches what I do...which eschews images whether still or moving as much as possible.
"My old Software Engineering Management lecturer told us something I think is very true. He said that if you developed a perfectly secure system, you would become very wealthy very quickly, as such a thing is virtually impossible to achieve."
What does the old geezer know? Bill Gates has shown that you can develop a perfectly insecure system and still become very wealthy very quickly.
"Despite the irony of it being said by Microsoft, the danger of a monoculture is all too real. It's important to have multiple rendering engines out there."
It's good as long as MS doesn't make their new rendering engine sprout new MS only "standards" like they always do.
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