Browsers Redux

Well, I guess everyone saw this coming. Hot on the heels of Microsoft’s announcement that there will be no more standalone versions of Internet Explorer for Windows, Roz Ho, general manager of Microsoft’s Mac Business Unit, has confirmed that Microsoft will no longer be developing Internet Explorer for the Mac. As of about three years ago, apparently, since that’s how long it’s been since a major update to the once best-of-breed browser.

I love the reasoning they give: “Some of the key customer requests for web browsing on the Mac require close development between the browser and the OS, something to which only Apple has access…” Wow! Irony level: a perfect 10. But then, Microsoft has really been doing well in the irony department lately.

On a related note, Jimmy Grewal, who was the MacBU’s lead developer on Internet Explorer, has left the company: “With the end of development of Mac Internet Explorer, I will be leaving Microsoft and moving on to pursue other interests back in Dubai.”

No word yet on when Microsoft will abandon Office for the Mac, but I have hunch they won’t be able to do so until Apple has its own office suite.

But it’s very likely that by then, Apple will come out with something so nice that we’ll all be happy to let go of the products that Microsoft has given us. Kinda like how I feel about Safari and Internet Explorer right now.

In its day, Mac IE was really something. At one time, it was the most standards-compliant browser you could get, and it blew its Windows brethren out of the water. But time passes, and things change. I stopped using IE for regular browsing about a year ago. I became quite annoyed at its insistence on rendering some or all of certain web sites as plain white boxes. Usually refreshing did the trick, but still. It was annoying. Quite annoying.

So I switched to Mozilla when it hit one-point-oh. I stuck with that for a few months, and while it did a great job rendering, its interface was, for lack of a better term, piss poor. Granted, the Mozilla team was making a cross-platform browser, but there’s something to be said for native widgets. And it was a bit slow. In the same way that a glacier is a bit slow.

Enter Chimera, the browser that OS X was yearning for. It was fast, it used Gecko, and it was made by Mac guys. Sweet. Crashy, but sweet.

And then Safari came. And I haven’t looked back since. Safari is, bar none, the best browser out there. The interface is stunning, as is the speed, and Dave Hyatt’s openness with regard to its development is nothing short of remarkable. Of course, there are those that try to take advantage of this, and that’s a shame.

But these days, I use IE only for testing sites.

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