Yet another reason to buy a mac
June 13, 2003 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft to discontinue development of IE for the Mac... Surprisingly this apparently isn't being done because of the low market share for Macintosh, but rather as a side effect of the increasing integration (whether real or alleged) between IE and the Operating System, which on the Mac is closed, so MS can cease development as support for their claims of mandatory integration between browser & OS. I await the next step, mandatory integration between email & OS? IM? Media tools? Net access?
posted by jonson (68 comments total)

 
They are also no longer releasing standalone Internet Explorers for windows, just as part of OS upgrades. It is actually pretty tightly integrated at this point -- not that you can't use another browser, of course.
posted by malphigian at 12:19 PM on June 13, 2003


IE v5+ on OS 9 was the best browser on the platform, (all you icab weirdos notwithstanding), it was standards compliant to the point where they got special recognition from the w3c people, and much better than the Windows version.

If they ever got around to finishing the OS X version I might be a little more disappointed to hear this.

Unfortunately I'm afraid MS Office for the Mac will be next. I don't use it personally but I know it's an essential PHB credibility point for the platform.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:20 PM on June 13, 2003


As far as abandoning the Mac market goes, it sounds more like an admission they can't code for beans and got their butts handed to them by Safari.

"...mandatory integration between browser & OS???" Wasn't this precisely what the Netscape lawsuit was about? Didn't a judge force MS to un-bundle IE from Windows? Does anybody know why it's ok to integrate browser & OS all of a sudden?
posted by dyaseen at 12:21 PM on June 13, 2003


Oh, good, another thread about how Microsoft owes us something for some reason or another. They're a company. If we want to put them out of business, then we can stop using their products. Oh, wait, what's that? We don't want to?

Does anybody know why it's ok to integrate browser & OS all of a sudden? I believe philosophers have been tackling this question for centuries.

This is exactly why I don't read slashdot anymore.
posted by jon_kill at 12:24 PM on June 13, 2003


Look, I didn't say MS owed anybody anything. Don't use its products, myself. I just asked why, if a federal judge had ruled that the company was required to separate its browser from its operating system, it can now advocate, nay, mandate, doing just that.

Any answers, or do you just do attitude?
posted by dyaseen at 12:34 PM on June 13, 2003


Does anybody question why an expensive car comes with a factory direct GPS system when it's very obviously cutting in on the buisness of other GPS system manufacturers.
posted by riffola at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2003


The thing is I don't think there was much code shared between the PC And Mac versions of IE I'm pretty sure they were always virtually two different browsers.

It seems wierd but I'd almost guess this is actually a good business decision on IE's part. They probably will not be able to compete with the Safari browser eventually on the Mac OS.

And I had the same questions as dyaseen actually I thought Microsoft was forced to relaese stand alone versions (at least on the PC) of IE as a result of their anti-trust settlement
posted by bitdamaged at 12:38 PM on June 13, 2003


Hooray! The wicked witch is dead!
posted by password at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2003


Any answers, or do you just do attitude? Deciding a question doesn't need an answer is an answer in itself, isn't it?

That being said, the fact that the federal judge dictated to a group of citizens who had formed a voluntary corporation and provided a good or service that their fellow citizens had voluntarily paid for that they must now alter the way in which they "voluntarily" offered this good or service strikes me as a bit of an impediment to individual rights, don't you think?

"Oh, what must we do to protect ourselves from these ruthless criminals who fill our shelves with products and then wait for us to decide we want to buy them and enter into a voluntary contract which grants me ownership of their product and them an agreed-upon amount of my money?"
posted by jon_kill at 12:46 PM on June 13, 2003


Hey look, the obligatory "Microsoft whould be able to do whatever they want" poster. How much did Win31 cost retail? Hint: Less than Windows 98, and a lot less than Win2k.

That's kind of why we have anti-trust laws.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:48 PM on June 13, 2003


I've been using mozilla ever since IE5 updated itself and crashed. I tried downloading a new version, which worked for a week, until it too updated itself and crashed. I still have it on my dock, though I've no idea why I just don't throw it away. What is really sad to me is that I liked IE5 with OS9. Oh well.

Eventually I need to update to OSX, get Safari, iTunes and the rest of the cool stuff Apple has come up with in the last few years. I'm just being lazy....
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2003


Hey look, the obligatory "Microsoft whould be able to do whatever they want" poster.

Hey look, the bleeding heart who thinks they can dictate the terms under which everybody else can do business.

That's kind of why we have anti-trust laws.

So you are saying that Anti-Trust laws exist to prevent companies for charging more for products that are better than ones they have previously released?

That doesn't make any sense at all. If that was a hint, I'd hate to see what a ruse looks like.
posted by jon_kill at 12:52 PM on June 13, 2003


'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,' she explained.

Hilarious Microsoft doublespeak. You don't need "close development between the browser and OS" to block popups, implement tabbed windows, get the CSS box model right, or a score of other features that now make IE an also-ran since they stopped improving it years ago.

What the statement really means is, "there's no point in putting development effort into a product unless we can use it to lock the user in". Since they can't do anything with IE on the Mac other than compete, they might as well walk away.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2003


Just an idea, but I remember hearing some of the court case concerning browser integration in which the argument was that the integration was more of a sham than a technical necessity - the prosecution showed that it was possible to de-integrate the browser quite easily. Maybe the difference now is that MS are building true integration at a low level. I don't know if that would make a difference legally.
posted by jamespake at 12:54 PM on June 13, 2003


As a Mac user, I'll just say good bye and stay gone. Safari runs rings around IE, and there simply is no way to play catch up with what Apple has created... simply the best web browser out there (bugs withstanding, but it is still beta). I would imagine if Apple every beefs up Appleworks, Microsoft will back out of that market as well. And Mac users will be happy, because they will be getting for free what Windows users are paying bit and pieces for.
posted by benjh at 12:55 PM on June 13, 2003


Does anybody know why it's ok to integrate browser & OS all of a sudden?

Because without a file browser it would hard to see what was on your hard drive. Oh, sure , you can use the command line, but what a pain.

Oh, wait, do mean a *web* browser?

You're right, I should have to go out of my way to get that feature, since giving the user more than bare operational system tools would be uncompetitive.

In fact, file browsing should be unbundled, since it's a potential market for some 3rd-party tool.
posted by Ayn Marx at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2003


jon_kill, not to get in to the specifics of Microsoft, anti-trust laws exist to protect consumers when one company has a monopoly on a sector with a high barrier to entry, and uses it to raise prices considerably, while inhibit others from entering the market.

There's also laws forbidding cartels: when the handful of companies offering a service or product collude to raise their prices together in order to increase revenue.

You can debate the morality of these kinds of regulations all you want, but your arguments would be more effective if you addressed the greater concept instead of just saying "Microsoft should be able to do whatever they want."
posted by kfury at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2003


If we want to put them out of business, then we can stop using their products.

Funny, I've been doing that for years. Maybe someday it'll work.

"Oh, what must we do to protect ourselves from these ruthless criminals who fill our shelves with products and then wait for us to decide we want to buy them and enter into a voluntary contract which grants me ownership of their product and them an agreed-upon amount of my money?"

You're completely missing the point. Microsoft achieved their success precisely because they did not compete fairly in the marketplace. They didn't wait for us to decide we preferred their product; they used coercive OEM license agreements to force anyone who wanted a PC to buy Windows too. They used their guaranteed revenue stream from OS licenses to muscle into the browser market and kill off the competition - not having to actually make a profit, after all, gives you an edge over people who need to make a living.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2003


Hey look, the bleeding heart who thinks they can dictate the terms under which everybody else can do business.

I didn't write the Sherman act. I'm sorry if reality doesn't fit with your randroid vision of the world. If it makes you feel any better, Microsoft isn't even bothering to follow the watered-down settlement terms.

So you are saying that Anti-Trust laws exist to prevent companies for charging more for products that are better than ones they have previously released?

It would really benefit you to actually read the findings of fact (which were never questioned on appeal, BTW) to see what Microsoft's actually been up to.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:58 PM on June 13, 2003


No, anti-trust laws exist to prevent companies from gouging the consumer after they've established a monopoly.

I find it funny that jon_kill came in here bitching about "oh good, another thread" just like all the others, then proceeded to drag out the same tired arguments that we've heard in all those "other threads".
posted by jpoulos at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2003


err...that was in response to "So you are saying that Anti-Trust laws exist to prevent companies for charging more for products that are better than ones they have previously released?"
posted by jpoulos at 1:04 PM on June 13, 2003


We don't want to?

who's "we"?
also, jon_kill, may I suggest you do some reading about
The Sherman Antitrust Act ?
also of interest: Microsoft broke anti-trust law
and the trial dispatches, by Michael Lewis

(full disclosure: I don't even have Windows Media Player on my Mac. I removed that big "e" from the OSX dock right after I installed the system and I have never looked back. I'm fine with Mozilla, Quicktime, and now there's also DivX for Mac)
posted by matteo at 1:07 PM on June 13, 2003


Okay, fine, I'll let you all get back to agreeing with eachother. Anything else seems to make you uncomfortable.
posted by jon_kill at 1:07 PM on June 13, 2003


Feel free to disagree, jon_kill, just no namecalling, and try to flag your value judgements as such, and provide links. That's the way we like to discuss things. Also keep in mind that this thread is more specifically about the IE on Mac. If you can keep that in mind, and remember that not everyone who follows Smith's logic warning agianst monopolies is a 'bleeding heart' then you might create a better impression of yourself.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:12 PM on June 13, 2003


Okay, fine, I'll let you all get back to agreeing with eachother. Anything else seems to make you uncomfortable.

The only awkwardness stems from your arguing your side so poorly.
posted by Epenthesis at 1:20 PM on June 13, 2003


Hilarious Microsoft doublespeak.

Look, I'm a Mozilla apostle and I wouldn't go back to IE on a bet, but it seems like MS' argument is what they're going to be doing going forward requires the browser to be part of the OS. So I think this might all be backwards.

You can argue all you want, but the idea that Microsoft couldn't build a better browser is silly. IE6 does implement the box model correctly (you just have to give it a DOCTYPE that locks it into standards mode). I think they have a coder or two capable of building tabbed browsing and a piece of code that ignores JavaScript onloads that open windows. As stated above, IE5 for the Mac was the most standards-compliant browser for a long time. Someone built that.

I like the idea of a browser as a lightweight application that displays files (now Moz/ Firebird just needs to slim down), but Longhorn's desktop seems to have a lot of XML built right into it, so the idea of browser and OS separation may not make sense soon.
posted by yerfatma at 1:22 PM on June 13, 2003


"Okay, fine, I'll let you all get back to agreeing with eachother. Anything else seems to make you uncomfortable."

It's a cry for help.

As for the topic at hand . . . wait, people still use Macs?[/flamebait]
posted by Outlawyr at 1:34 PM on June 13, 2003


"Anything else seems to make you uncomfortable."

What a tool.

You can't be bothered to think about the case law or legal concepts being discussed, so you attack people who don't agree with you without listening to anything they're saying. Oh the delicious irony. You say you bailed out of Slashdot because you got tired of people mindlessly bashing Microsoft, so you come over here and carefully ignore the facts while you mindlessly cheer Microsoft.

Here, I'll make it simple:

1) There was a court case.
2) They lost.
3) They did, in a very real and legally binding sense, engage in illegal business practices.

Hense, "Microsoft owes us something" for the simple reason that they must pay their debt to society just like any other convicted criminal.

I know, you don't like it. But it might be time to unpucker you lips from the ass of unchecked corporate greed and face reality.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:38 PM on June 13, 2003


You can argue all you want, but the idea that Microsoft couldn't build a better browser is silly.

My argument isn't that they can't, it's that they don't want to. They could have improved it over the last few years; they didn't bother. It's a bit disingenuous to now claim that there's no point in catching up because their "key customer requests" can't be done unless they own everything.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:42 PM on June 13, 2003


actually, the argument that "they need greater access to the operating system to meet customer requests" is in itself ludicrous. Unless customers are specifically requesting Windows technologies done the Windows way (e.g. ActiveX, which they touted as a Web technology solely for vendor lock-in reasons), there's nothing you can do on Windows that not being Apple will keep you from doing on a Mac. Tighter integration with the OS? You can access the filesystem (obeying permissions) from any application (system wouldn't be much use otherwise), so it can't be their My Whole Machine Is A Webpage UI they're so enthralled with. If you want to bind the browser to other applications, there's a fairly sophisticated distributed objects system, not to mention Services, my favorite little underused tidbit of Jaguar coolness.

Of course, the only reason they provided IE for the Macintosh for this long is that they were required to under the 1997 contract they signed with Apple. Remember, when they gave Apple $150m out of the goodness of their 16-bit hearts? Conventional wisdom at the time was that a dead Apple meant a Justice Department breakup. Now that we have pro-business, anti-terrorist Ashcroft in the AG seat, Microsoft doesn't have anything to fear from the Feds and can afford to play a looser game in general.
posted by Vetinari at 2:11 PM on June 13, 2003


sounds more like an admission they can't code for beans and got their butts handed to them by Safari

IE5/Mac is excellently coded by a good team. It was the best browser, period, that had ever existed when it was released.

They could have improved it over the last few years; they didn't bother.

Not entirely accurate. The improvements that they made were just limited to the OS X MSN client and other places the browser engine would/will appear. But the point still stands that Apple killed MS's interest in the browser market on that platform by bundling their app with the OS.
posted by anildash at 2:13 PM on June 13, 2003


This is a defeat for Microsoft. They have always been very savvy at cutting their losses and attacking in a different direction.

Microsoft's dream was to establish lock-in by getting people to design Web pages that are locked into MS's platform. They failed to lock-in the Web with Front Page, they failed to do it with IIS, they failed with MSN. They have now failed with IE. Mozilla and Safari will survive. IE-only Web sites will not take over the Net.

On the other hand, it's a very long war. They still have a solid lock-in on the desktop for everything that's not the Web. Slowly, that's getting chipped away as well, for example by OpenOffice.

Probably their next move is to try to create lock-in by giving Web sites ways to add new functionality that only works with some MS-controlled software on the desktop. That type of lock-in is their real goal with DRM.
posted by fuzz at 2:27 PM on June 13, 2003


y6^3: One could argue that:

1. Microsoft was targeted because the failed to engage in payola. Engaging in payola made many of their legal problems disappear.
2. Thomas Penfield Jackson was way off-base.
3. Consumers weren't harmed.
4. Anti-trust law, as a whole, is misguided, ineffective, and harmful.

IANAL. Don't know if jon_kill is a lawyer. But it's a mite uncomfortable to be the lone pro-corporate voice on Metafilter. It's also work to write a good post, challenging everyone's assumptions as they pile up in front of one's very eyes. He gave up in the face of what he presumably felt was another bout of MeFi kneejerk anti-corporatism. I don't think this makes him a tool.
posted by trharlan at 2:32 PM on June 13, 2003


I was a fan of IE on the PC for a long time; I never liked Netscape... when Netscape starting losing marketshare, I thought, "Wow, in some cases, the market really does work." Now I see the after-effects--namely, MS won't upgrade its still-buggy browser (PC) for two more years. I've learned my lesson. Safari, even in its beta, is great, and I'm slowly starting to switch to Firebird. Unfortunately we still have to build for IE6 and IE5 Mac. Safari doesn't work unless you have OSX 10.2.

fuzz: I think they did do it with IE6, and they still are doing it with Office. I don't see your average consumer changing to Mozilla (unless it somehow becomes SO AMAZING that everyone HAS to have it), and I don't see your average consumer getting Open Office, either. What percentage of computer users are techies? They might switch, but not everyone else.
posted by gramcracker at 2:35 PM on June 13, 2003


"But it's a mite uncomfortable to be the lone pro-corporate voice on Metafilter."

Why would anyone be pro-corporate? I'm befuddled.
posted by Outlawyr at 2:47 PM on June 13, 2003


Safari isn't bundled, it's a separate install.

IE/Mac wasn't 'excellently coded', it was poorly coded in Carbon by a team that cared somewhat more about W3C standards than the IE/Win team. Yes, that made it better than what else existed at the time, but that time is long long past. If MS had ever been serious about IE/Mac, they would have ported it to Cocoa.

I would have responded to jon_kill, but I see he's had his ass handed to him already. Well done.
posted by Cerebus at 2:58 PM on June 13, 2003


Why would anyone be pro-corporate? I'm befuddled.

An incredibly fat paycheck could swing my vote.

Unfortunately we still have to build for IE6 and IE5 Mac.

DOCTYPE is your friend-- it can make those browsers play nice with DOM-compliant code and good CSS. Hell, we still have to make things at least look ok in IE4/NS4. IE6 and IE5 on a Mac hardly seems like a burden.
posted by yerfatma at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2003


Didn't a judge force MS to un-bundle IE from Windows? Does anybody know why it's ok to integrate browser & OS all of a sudden?

yeah, somehow, all that particular hullaballoo ended up applying only to win95, iirc. so, for a short time, M$ offered a win95 version which contained no IE, then they rolled out win98 and never looked back. a expensive farce. you and i paid the tab.
posted by quonsar at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2003


I for one am glad that I run a browser that runs FULLY in user space. If my browser has a security hole in like a buffer overflow only what MY user can do will be the maximum damage to my system. Where as on IE it wouldn't matter what user was running the software you can still get overflows that allow you execute arbitrary code RIGHT IN THE OS. If IE is integrated in the OS then there are probably going to be bugs in that part. And those are the most dangerous.

Look at it this way. Your OS usually isn't your services. It provides services to your services. Now the services it provides should be pretty secure, like your TCP stack, your networking, you drivers. The web and internet is notorious for security problems and bad webpages who are liable to cause problems with your software. At least if you run Opera or Mozilla these bugs when they occur will occur in a much safer spot to crash than if it were IE.
posted by abez at 3:01 PM on June 13, 2003


"Oh, what must we do to protect ourselves from these ruthless criminals who fill our shelves with products and then wait for us to decide we want to buy them and enter into a voluntary contract which grants me ownership of their product and them an agreed-upon amount of my money?"

you mean the criminals who fill our shelves with shoddy unworking non-compliant products, falsely advertise to compel people to buy them, and enter into a deceptive one way contracts which grant me ownership of nothing, and grant them total immunity from responsibility for the scam?
posted by quonsar at 3:07 PM on June 13, 2003


oh, and the true meaning of the red herring language about needing greater access to the OS? simply that IE is going to be a major component of the DRM OS, so obviously it won't be developed on the Mac.
posted by quonsar at 3:09 PM on June 13, 2003


"kneejerk"

You might want to do a bit of research on that word.

Presenting arguments and asking questions in a rational manner isn't kneejerk. Kneejerk would be dismissing everything with a wave of the hand and accusing detractors of being insecure and small-minded.

This would be kneejerk:

"Oh, good, another thread about how Microsoft owes us something for some reason or another."

Especially when the thread didn't seem to have anything to do with that. Yes?

Or it might be considered kneejerk to label people as anti-corporate just because they don't like Microsoft. As an over-paid programmer working in the military industrial complex, I find large, greedy corporations to be absolutely wonderful. Especially the one I work for. But of course I'm able to see levels of grey which seem invisible to Mr jon_kill and yourself. I've watched for the last decade as Microsoft has made my job harder by stifling innovation and building systems designed purely to lock out better ideas.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:11 PM on June 13, 2003


gramcracker: You're right, Mozilla and OpenOffice aren't winning. But they aren't losing either. And in the bigger war, a stalemate is a victory if it keeps MS from creating another point of lock-in. Long-term, they need lock-in in order to extract recurring revenues from their customers, especially when competing with software that is free as in beer.

The Office file format doesn't imprison people on Windows as much as it used to. People are writing in HTML instead of Word. OpenOffice finally cracked the problem of reading Office file formats. Microsoft's usual strategy is to try to break that by getting everyone to upgrade to the new Office XP file format. This time it's not working as well. OpenOffice and StarOffice are giving corporations a negotiating lever against MS's abusive Office XP upgrade licensing policies.

On the consumer side, eventually WalMart and Amazon will be selling mass-produced PCs that run a free OS, Office suite and browser, with support for music, video, and games software. Hardware and software together, those PCs will cost less than a copy of Windows and Office today. And they will be much simpler than Windows-IE-Office to use. That wouldn't be imaginable without OpenOffice, which might not exist if Microsoft had succeeded in extending their Word monopoly on word-processing to page-design tools. Microsoft has to either lock-in the Web or lock-in the media platform to prevent this competition from destroying their margins.

And they're not managing to lock-in the Web. Mozilla and Safari have prevented MS from tying HTML to IE. Mac users can give up on IE and still view the Internet. Even though IE still dominates, I would guess that the number of sites that require IE is declining.
posted by fuzz at 3:12 PM on June 13, 2003


I wrote about this earlier today, so I'm stealing my own words:

Why pump money into a competing platform, build a browser that works on it, and help Apple make an inroad into corporate America for one of your competitors. I'd suspect Office X and is next. Maybe they'll release Outlook X before that.

Unfortunately, I'm only able to use IE 5.0 for the Mac, since the later Mac versions, have a horrible bug where once you connect to the ISA server, you'll have a browser crash. This is something Microsoft will probably never fix and was (as it now appears) probably intentional. No other Mac browser connects using NTLM, so Macs in a corporation can only use IE 5 to browse the web.
posted by mkelley at 3:39 PM on June 13, 2003


Safari isn't bundled, it's a separate install.

That's because Safari didn't exist when the last version of the OS was released! Want to bet it won't be installed with Panther?

If MS had ever been serious about IE/Mac, they would have ported it to Cocoa.

Mac OS X's two APIs have equal standing. Cocoa is not superior to Carbon in any way that would affect an end user.
posted by kindall at 3:54 PM on June 13, 2003


oh, and the true meaning of the red herring language about needing greater access to the OS? simply that IE is going to be a major component of the DRM OS

No kidding. Why precisely does MSIE requires greater access to the OS for:Failing to fix all of the above just makes life difficult for web developers, and makes it a pain to develop elegant web applications that work for everyone.

By failing to do these things, Microsoft makes life more difficult for everyone. Web developers, because they have to create all kinds of hacks and workarounds to get stuff to work for everyone, and everyone else because they have to contend with the flaws that creep through when said web developers fail to write such workarounds correctly.
posted by moonbiter at 4:04 PM on June 13, 2003


This is a serious question. Can one of you techie types give me any reasons - practical or theoretical - why integrating a browser with the underlying OS is either desirable or necessary? What can you achieve with Windows/IE that can't be done with OSX/Safari or Linux/Phoenix, for example?
posted by salmacis at 4:32 PM on June 13, 2003


How much did Win31 cost retail? Hint: Less than Windows 98, and a lot less than Win2k.
The engineering cost of Win98 was much greater than that of Win3.1. And that of Win2k even greater. Of course, Win2k wasn't a consumer OS, so it's not really relevant. I would imagine that the cost of WinME was close to that of Win98; odd that you didn't mention it (yes, yes, WinME sucked. That's clearly not the point).

I for one am glad that I run a browser that runs FULLY in user space.
Uh, all of IE runs in user-mode. Being "part of the system" does not imply that it must run in kernel-mode (e.g., kernel32.dll is obviously part of the system, but it's purely user-mode code).
posted by JasonSch at 4:47 PM on June 13, 2003


#1 Apple has been banking on this. They don't want to rely on MS anymore. Period. Next is AppleOffice.
Safari is about 3 inches from beating the pants off of IE5Mac and it's not even out of Beta yet.

#2 Microsoft already ditched IE for Windows even before they officially ditched it for Mac.

#3 The next version of "IE" is Avalon. and it's not IE. It's the operating sytem. There is no 'browser'. It will just be web applications running off of a web-server in your OS core.
Avalon some sort of frontend happy face to work with the updated SQLServer-like database filesystem in the background.
Call it a flash/html killer if you will.
I believe its related to the new drawing layer that Windows(2004 or so) will have
(heyyyyy, where'd they get THAT idea . . . *cough*OSX's Quartz*cough*)

What we really need to be worried about is MS's willingness to share such technology or create some form of inroad to allowing other OS/devices to interact with this without MS's explicit license/allowance.
*guffaw*
Basically - the web/net/infohighway is gonna get a lot more proprietary.
posted by cinderful at 4:56 PM on June 13, 2003


Salmacis,

You can use IE to browse your computer's directories on a Windows PC.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:57 PM on June 13, 2003


This is a serious question. Can one of you techie types give me any reasons - practical or theoretical - why integrating a browser with the underlying OS is either desirable or necessary?

Scenario I:
I'm not a techie - but think of it this way.
You are in Flash, and you want to know how to make a button.

You hide/close flash and open your browser to look up a tutorial.

You find one and a .fla
you download the fla, unzip, and open it in flash to snooop around it.

Scenario II: You want to know how to make a button in flash, you open up the tutorial flash channel window and it loads Macromedia content and let's you search for tutorials by difficulty, author, topic, version, date, compelxity, etc etc.
You browse through and read them and find the one you want to peek at - you click it and the FLA downloads and opens.


This is a very unimaginative example - but you can see why web services available to the OS and to application developers could be really cool.

but dangerous . . .

because what if Macromedia's tutorials suck and you want to get some from a third party?
posted by cinderful at 5:07 PM on June 13, 2003


Not only can you use IE to browse your computer's directories on a Windows PC, you probably are even when you think you're not. That's because Windows has, ever since Active Desktop, used IE as its Explorer view. In Windows XP (and probably other Windows versions, but XP is the one the machine I'm using runs) you can type a URL into the address bar in an Explorer window and the Web site will be loaded into that window. It's the same code as IE, just disguised a little (and not even very much, really).
posted by kindall at 5:09 PM on June 13, 2003


What can you achieve with Windows/IE that can't be done with OSX/Safari or Linux/Phoenix, for example?

well. ahem. first, if it's a part of the default OS on 99% of all machines manufactured, it's a de facto standard. now, you are a smart guy. most people who purchased computers from 1985 on are smart people. but there are a LOT more computers to be sold yet. and the people buying them are, for purposes of this discussion, morons. people who will expect the computer to require as much understanding and care as a refrigerator. people who accept information about things they buy, especially consumer electronics, at face value. these people do not distinguish "applications" from "operating systems". these people see only "computer". they only know that their computer, and the computer of everyone they know, except those nerdy mac users up the street, can surf the net and display html just fine. their computer certainly doesn't need a "safari" or a "phoenix" to get the job done. nope! see how silly those nerdy mac people are? see how superior microsoft products are? in fact, their computers will be able to do certain things that those safaris and phoenix things can't. it just doesn't pay to stray from the microsoft way! what can you achieve? lock-in.
posted by quonsar at 5:20 PM on June 13, 2003


Perhaps this is a bit off-topic, but after reading a Microsoft thread I like to read David Gelertner's Any Microsecond Now.
posted by y10k at 5:48 PM on June 13, 2003


That's because Windows has, ever since Active Desktop, used IE as its Explorer view.

It's ironic that embedding the IE engine got Microsoft into trouble when it arguably made Windows less proprietary in some ways. For instance, the customized folder views could then be HTML-based rather than some format they cooked up. Likewise, HTML format help documents replaced their closed document format. And once Safari gets to 1.0, the WebCore engine will presumably become part of the system for use by other applications (think iTunes Music store type interfaces, for instance).

I always thought that browser embedding was one of the weakest arguments in the case against Microsoft, since it makes so much sense as a service for all kinds of apps. But I suspect that in the future, Microsoft's reason for embedding it will have much more to do with DRM issues; the IE engine becomes the core for all kinds of media presentation, and control over DRM goes along with it.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:54 PM on June 13, 2003


Why would anyone be pro-corporate? I'm befuddled.

All the cool kids are anti-corporate, and some people just can't stand to be cool.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:56 PM on June 13, 2003


"Safari runs rings around IE, and there simply is no way to play catch up with what Apple has created... simply the best web browser out there"

*ahem*
posted by lotsofno at 6:23 PM on June 13, 2003


Can't say I'm sad to see it go. IE for OS X has been horrible and I switched to Camino ages ago. In beta form it ran better than IE for 99% of what I do.

What everyone is forgetting is that word on the back street is that Apple is increasingly going for the Windows market with its software. The idea being that since Apple's 'iApps' have been so well reviewed and received on both sides of the fence (Mac and non-Mac users alike), why not gain some financial reward from the Windows crowd?

Apple's greatest ability is to put out damned good, thoughtful, refined software. From the get-go. The hardware has always been 'cool' and 'thoughtful', but Apple was never able to get the cost-of-production low enough to really go gang busters.

Since the "Switch" campaign has been a less-than-stellar success at drawing Windows users over, Apple might as well hedge its bets: draw revenue from software on the Windows platform from people who most likely will never switch to Macs anyhow; and at the same time, continue to create Macintosh products for the faithful who will never switch to Microsoft anyhow.

Works out as a 'best of both worlds' for Apple approach. iPod has been a stellar success, especially in Windows sales, which comprise almost 50% of sales (and will soon eclipse Macintosh-user sales, IMO) and with the Apple Music Store going Windows based (with an iTunes like App, hopefully), it looks like Apple might be able to make a decent end-run against Microsoft.
posted by tgrundke at 6:40 PM on June 13, 2003


kindall: "Ships with it installed" and "bundled" aren't the same thing. Try to uninstall IE from Windows. Can't do it. Meanwhile, I can drop Safari (or IE) in the Trash; no fuss, no muss, and no breakage. And guess what-- it'll be like that in Panther too.

Carbon and Cocoa do not have equal standing. There are serious rendering differences between the APIs. Text in Carbon is a bitch and a half. There are serious differences in how Carbon apps handle things like preferences. Apple itself will tell you that Carbon exists solely to ease porting from OS9, and that OSX applications should be ported forward to Cocoa-- period.
posted by Cerebus at 9:34 PM on June 13, 2003


Apple itself will tell you that Carbon exists solely to ease porting from OS9, and that OSX applications should be ported forward to Cocoa-- period.

Apple has said a lot of things along those lines, but Apple has a long and well-documented history of promoting all kinds of wonderful futuristic technologies that disappear without trace or apology, and savvy Mac developers know better than to pay more than half attention to them. The engineers pushing Cocoa the hardest are the ones Apple bought from NeXT, and it's not hard to see why someone would promote the technology they've been working on for the last ten years whether it really makes a difference or not. Mac users are all excited about Cocoa partly because it's shiny and new and partly because, being users, they really don't know anything about it. In truth, Cocoa is just as much a legacy technology as Carbon; it's the API and UI library inherited from OpenStep, just as Carbon is the API and UI layer inherited from Copland.

Cocoa has at least one major disadvantage in that it's hooked tightly to Objective-C. I don't know of anyone who didn't come from the OpenStep world who knows or gives a damn about Objective-C; the only reason to learn it is to use Cocoa. Cocoa advocates make great noise about how easy and powerful Objective-C is, which is pretty much the same line every language partisan gives you; it may be true or it may not, but it's a big ol' warning sign when you live in a cross platform world. Carbon feels more C++ friendly and in many ways parallels the Win32 API, which makes it an excellent choice for any piece of software which comes from or may someday end up moving to Windows.

Recently, you may notice, Apple seems to have come back a bit closer to reality and acknowledged that Carbon is not going away anytime soon. Perhaps the marketing people have gotten the fact that it's a bad idea to cut off the majority of your developer base into the engineers' heads at last.

There are serious differences in how Carbon apps handle things like preferences.

And there are serious differences in how Cocoa apps handle things like file types, interapplication communication, and text encodings... of course the two libraries have different strengths, reflecting the capabilities of the operating systems that spawned them, and the fact that Mac OS X - even 10.2 - really isn't finished yet. But I'm seeing convergence, not divergence, and judging by activity on the carbon-dev list and the new features rumoured for Panther I don't think they expect to stop Carbon development anytime soon.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:04 PM on June 13, 2003


Mac users are all excited about Cocoa partly because it's shiny and new and partly because, being users, they really don't know anything about it.

I think most Mac uses prefer Cocoa over Carbon coded applications mainly because of the number of ugly quick-n-dirty Carbon-ported applications out there. Mac users (me included) nitpick and aruge over the smallest thing and the way Carbon allowed a lot of ugly OS X ports did not help things.
posted by gyc at 10:20 PM on June 13, 2003


Plenty of fine Mac OS X apps are Carbon. Photoshop, iTunes, the Finder, BBEdit, Script Debugger -- none of those apps suck (though only BBEdit has trademarked it). Okay, maybe the Finder comes close to sucking, but it would if it were written in Cocoa too. Photoshop doesn't have any difficulty doing text in Carbon -- or anything else, for that matter.

To showcase the power of Cocoa, we have developers like Omni Group. I hate to pick on them, because some of their apps are great, but even they couldn't get their browser to render HTML decently until Apple came along and basically did the job for them (the next version of OmniWeb will use Safari's rendering engine). Or there's Nisus, who decided to rewrite their flagship word processor in Cocoa, then gave up on that and decided to license another company's word processor and add their goodies to that, and are just now entering beta, over a year and a half after Microsoft shipped Word v.X. My intent is not to slag Omni or Nisus (I like both companies) but merely to point out that Cocoa is by no means a magic bullet.

The quick-and-dirty Carbon ported apps are somewhat regrettable, except for the fact that without Carbon you probably wouldn't have certain apps at all. Not just the crappy ports, but Office, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Flash, FreeHand, and (at long last) QuarkXPress, for what it's worth. Apps that the Mac needs to be a serious platform. And, of course, there have been a good number of quick and dirty Cocoa ports that were just as bad as the Carbon ports, except not as many, because there weren't as many NeXT developers as Mac developers. And there are crappy UNIX ports too; someone is actually charging money for MacGIMP, an X11 version of GIMP that acts nothing like a Mac app.

The great thing about Mac OS X is that it has three full-fledged APIs. The NeXT developers are ecstatic because their codebase works with Cocoa, giving them access to the huge Mac market (huge compared to NeXT, anyway). Mac developers are glad to be able to write software that runs on a modern OS that their customers want, without having to throw out all their code. And the Unix geeks love being able to buy a well-supported UNIX that runs mainstream apps and all their BSD, POSIX, and X11 stuff too -- for a really affordable price, considering all you get and the prices historically charged by commercial Unix vendors. These three groups of developers and users are coming to the Mac for different reasons, which will lead to some bumps, but it's the widest audience the Mac has enjoyed in years. Use whichever API suits your needs; they all work.
posted by kindall at 11:47 PM on June 13, 2003


You can use IE to browse your computer's directories on a Windows PC.

Er, yes, I can use Konqueror to browse my computer's directories on a Linux PC. I can also use Konqueror to browse the files on the Windows partition. I can't use IE to browse the files on the Linux partition.

I can also use Mozilla to browse local files, though it clearly wasn't designed for the job.

I'm not trying to be a Linux zealot here. I just want to know why it's impossible to uninstall IE.
posted by salmacis at 9:25 AM on June 14, 2003


Surprisingly this apparently isn't being done because of the low market share for Macintosh

From Wsj: The move isn't surprising, said Rob Helm, research director for Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland-based independent research firm.

Internet Explorer already has more than 90% of the market, he said, and Microsoft doesn't need the added exposure to Mac users, who constitute less than 5% of computer users


jonson, would you like to revise your statement?
posted by Bag Man at 10:11 AM on June 14, 2003


No, Bag Man, I agree with you - I just meant that the STATED reason wasn't low market share. I'm sure if market share was worth bothering, they'd figure out a way to cope with the proprietary OS integration issues.
posted by jonson at 11:05 AM on June 14, 2003


There's a diffrence between bundling something and building something deep into the OS. Obviously MS should ship windows with some web browser, but they should provide an API to replace it with another one if the user chooses.

The way Microsoft is going is absolutly horrible from any software engineering perspective.
posted by delmoi at 12:27 PM on June 14, 2003


Zeldman's comments.
posted by rory at 5:18 AM on June 16, 2003


But it's a mite uncomfortable to be the lone pro-corporate voice on Metafilter.

There is a huge difference between being open to multiple viewpoints and requiring multiple viewpoints. One could just as easily say it's a mite uncomfortable to be the lone pro-terrorist voice on MetaFilter. Just because a group of people might purpose to give all viewpoints space in the debate doesn't mean that it's a mark against them if some viewpoints don't get represented.
It also isn't a mark against them if a person with a minority p.o.v. isn't doing a very good job of making his/her case. Allowing someone with whom I dsagree to speak and giving them my full attention when they do does not mean I will agree with them when they're done speaking. If they're really good at debate, they'll make me re-think my position, but that isn't always the case.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:42 AM on June 16, 2003


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