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Is I.E. 8 the end for explorer?

Posted 11-16-2009 at 01:17 PM by pereb

I've heard through the grapevine that IE8 is the last version of the IE browser. Is microsoft throwing in the towel?

They've got to be coming up with a replacement. Some are claiming that Microsoft will go with WebKit, which, thanks to the popularity of Apple's Safari browser and also Google's Chrome, is rapidly becoming a standard for all non-IE and non-Firefox implementations.

Others say that that the whole WebKit story is merely a feint and that Microsoft will in fact be adopting a brand-new engine. Dubbed "Gazelle," this new engine will supposedly be more secure than Firefox or even Chrome, making copious use of sandboxing to keep its myriad plug-ins isolated and the overall browser process model protected.

But regardless of which direction Microsoft takes -- WebKit or Gazelle -- it will still have to navigate the treacherous waters of legacy ActiveX support. And as someone who has spent some not-so-quality time developing ActiveX controls in the past, the need to maintain some sort of compatibility layer within any proposed IE replacement is a critical consideration.

For most casual users , ActiveX was and is just another annoying [acronym="Rich Internet Application"]RIA[/acronym] mechanism, one that has increasingly been supplanted by Adobe Flash or various AJAX-based mechanisms. However, for enterprise IT shops with a heavy Microsoft investment, ActiveX has long been an integral part of many in-house applications.

If Microsoft intends to pull the plug on IE after version 8, it will need to articulate a clear legacy migration strategy that allows these shops to preserve their investments in ActiveX controls and resources.

Then there’s the issue of legacy HTML/CSS support. So much of the Web has been tweaked for IE 6.x compatibility that even Microsoft's own attempts to implement a more standards-compliant browser engine in IE8 have met with disastrous results.

Finally, there's the matter of third-party developers using IE's rendering engine with their own applications. A good example would be a program that includes a help file in HTML format and then uses a custom form to display an embedded Web browser object to host the file. This embedded object is invariably an ActiveX container for the IE engine that's installed with Windows, so any attempt to remove IE from the OS -- or to radically change its core underpinnings -- will need to account for applications that rely on the existence of an accessible, programmable IE object model.

Of course, all of the above is old hat for Microsoft, a company whose status as global software leader too often makes it a victim of its own success. I, for one, look forward to the possibility of a clean break with IE's creaky old rendering engine. But I hope the company pays more care and attention to preserving legacy compatibility than it did with some of its more recent OS efforts.

Microsoft should definitely either replace IE with something far better with better security and speed, or simply hang up their hat. ActiveX controls allow web browsers to download and execute Windows programs. So, users who are unknown of this keep letting them install execute programs. Kinda like the way Apple always checks all the boxes when they do "Apple Upgrade" so people download Safari. Taking out Active X Controls and upping the security a lot more would definitely help.
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Total Comments 3


  1. Old Comment
    I personally don't think that MSFT will give up on IE. I think they have too much put into it.
    Posted 06-21-2010 at 05:13 PM by jbux99 jbux99 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    haha - just wanted to obviously update this and say that I guess we have our answer now...IE 9 just rolled out recently! I think with all the recent news surrounding it, and with the improvements that have come with IE 9, IE is around to stay, at least for a while.
    Posted 08-23-2011 at 10:30 AM by pereb pereb is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Yes, IE9 is out but for Win Vista or will not work with XP...sad to hear!
    Posted 08-27-2011 at 11:15 AM by FredGSanford FredGSanford is offline


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