What Microsoft’s IE and North Korea Have in Common

Not sure why, but here lately I keep seeing opportunities that Microsoft is squandering.  The latest one:  Internet Explorer.

Why?  Recently, we all witnessed a massive advertising blitz on TV and the web for IE9.  To me it seemed wasteful.  I mean who was Microsoft really marketing to?  The only people that they were trying to convert were EXISTING users of Windows!  Think about it, Internet Explorer at one point had a nearly 80% market share.  Today, often the first thing I do when getting a fresh Windows VM up and running is to install Google Chrome and Firefox.  I don’t even launch IE (no matter what version) unless I absolutely have to for some bizarro ms-centric client code support issue.

The reason?  Internet Explorer is only supported on one platform:  Windows.  In effect, Microsoft has made their browser market share isolated much like North Korea has made itself on the international stage.

Even Apple makes Windows versions of Safari (actually, this appears to be changing).  So, why would Microsoft chose to isolate the primary application delivery mechanism (browser) to only their OS?  Let’s not get distracted by the current mobile apps stratified marketplace.  IOS and Android do control the “isolated mobile apps” marketplace as I call them, but there is a clear desire by many including Facebook to make the move to native HTML 5.x apps on mobile devices as quickly as on par capabilities arise (getting there).  I think this “detour” with isolated mobile apps we are all on will eventually turn the power back to the browser again on mobile devices.  To be sure, potentially strong competitor Mozilla, has a mobile OS making heavy use of HTML 5.  Google has already realized that the browser can be the OS and has based their Chrome OS notebooks on this strategy.

Right now, in terms of speed and recoverability Google’s Chrome is a superior browser and it runs on Windows, OSX, and Linux platforms.  Microsoft should take notes and effectively become a full faith partner in the multi-platform community, much like a respected nation in the UN.  Microsoft should immediately develop an open source version of Internet Explorer with full standards support.  To their credit IE9 has come a long way toward supporting open web standards from the days of IE6.  But they need to do more if they wish to compete and be relevant in the coming open browser world.  They need IE to run on OSX, Linux, IOS, and Android as fast as possible.  However, that will not be enough.  They need to have the recoverability from javascript issues through tab/process isolation like Chrome does and they need to add features faster than Google and Firefox can (like robust syncing bookmarks).  By doing these things, Microsoft can start to gain the respect of the open web community and gain traction.  For now, I am happy using Chrome and Firefox.  Redmond, you better wake up and get to work.  Open source IE and get it running on multiple platforms.


2 Comments on “What Microsoft’s IE and North Korea Have in Common”


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