The (old) Licquia Family Blog

This is the old blog site, powered by a simple blogging system called Blosxom. It's here to keep old links from breaking, and for whatever historic interest might remain.

Here's the current site.

Sun, 01 Jun 2003

The Browser War enters a new phase

Remember the Browser War? Microsoft and Netscape duking it out for dominance in the all-important browser space? Microsoft being convicted of using its monopoly power to crush Netscape?

It's not over yet. Not by a long shot.

The announcement you might have heard was the one that Microsoft and AOL have settled their antitrust lawsuit. Of course, this is bad news for the Netscape crowd, since AOL will continue to base its software on IE for the foreseeable future.

But here's the announcement you might not have caught. Basically, IE is dead; an upcoming maintenance release will likely be the last. >From now on, the Windows browser will not have an identity as a separate piece of software.

This has a lot of implications. For one, it's now clear that all IE users today will have to upgrade their operating system in order to get "IE 7" (in whatever form it takes). Those who don't will have to stick with IE 6. For people who write Web pages, this is a bad thing, because IE hasn't changed fundamentally since IE 4, and has huge bugs in its support of Web standards. (For more information, look here, here, and here, among other places.) For better or for worse, we're all stuck with the bugs of IE for the next few years, just as we were stuck with the bugs of Netscape 4 for so long.

With a lack of bug fixes comes a lack of new features, as well. I'm always surprised when I find myself needing to use IE; it seems so primitive, even compared to the minimalist Epiphany browser for GNOME. No tabbed browsing or popup management, and all security and privacy settings force you to deal with "zones" that no one, in practice, can seem to get the way they want them.

Another, nicer surprise is that non-Microsoft browsers are making a comeback. In one of the links above, Tim Bray mentions that the traffic to his site seems to be trending away from IE and towards alternative browsers such as those based on Mozilla, Opera, or Konqueror. Others have also noticed this trend.

If you're reading this site using Internet Explorer, therefore, you'd do well to look at some of the alternatives. If you don't like full-fledged Netscape, Mozilla is a good alternative, and they now make a nice stripped-down browser called Firebird. Apple has released a new browser for Macs called Safari, based on the Konqueror browser for UNIX. Opera is still going strong, if you don't mind paying for it.

Jun 01, 2003 | Comments are no longer available