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The Internet

Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues 758

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the digging-up-the-wars-of-the-past dept.
adamsmith_uk writes "For the first time in three years something has happened in browser land. In fact, major events have started happening at a breathtaking pace. Time for a long overview that tells the whole story. "
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Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues

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  • the future is now. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sweeney37 (325921) * <mikesweeney@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:35AM (#6433802) Homepage Journal
    The [Mozilla] Project needs to get its act together, though. No more rehearsing for the Navel Gazing Split Personality Idiot Savant role. No more antique cars stuffed with vague X-technologies nobody understands anyway. And no, not even one web standard. The Project should put Mozilla on a strict diet and star it as the Viable Alternative to the Senile Evil Dinosaur Usurper in the epic multimedial co-production "Browser Wars II: The Saga Continues".

    If the Project does so, it has a future. If it doesn't, it will sink further into obscurity and silly names.


    Apparently this guys has been out of the loop. I agree the silly name changes, and change in directions hurt, (hell it confused me too), but now they are on a strict roadmap. The Firebird browser is on a strict diet, it's slicker, leaner and meaner than anything Microsoft has to offer. Even some of the biggest Windows advocates [joelonsoftware.com] have jumped on the bandwagon.

    Hopefully enough eyes will be opened, and will see that the future is Firebird.

    Mike
    • Fat ass browsers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by siskbc (598067) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:12AM (#6434079) Homepage
      Apparently this guys has been out of the loop. I agree the silly name changes, and change in directions hurt, (hell it confused me too), but now they are on a strict roadmap. The Firebird browser is on a strict diet, it's slicker, leaner and meaner than anything Microsoft has to offer.

      Come on, that's like saying that if I went to fat camp I'd be the skinniest person there. IE ain't the poster child for a lithe browser, and Mozilla (not even 1.4) isn't either.

    • Ack, but I'd go a little bit further.

      Mozilla is an engine rather than a browser. This has led to projects like Galeon, just like KHtml has led to projects like Safari. "HTML views" (aka "browser windows") are already nearly as common as text editors in many apps (think HTML help, email, ...). So, in a not-so-distant future people will likely have more than one browser/rendering engine on their computer, and not even notice which one they are using.

      If this scenario happens, there will be no option for any
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:38AM (#6433827)
    IE is still the dominant browser, because Windows is the dominant desktop platform. People generally don't want to change what comes with their system, especially if it works well enough for them, to say nothing of the confusinig open source strategem of nightly builds, stable releases, unstable releases, etc etc.

    Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser.
    • by aeinome (672135)
      The problem is, people still might not change. They've worked with Windows for a lot of years- at least three, I'm sure- and so they'll stick with the "tried and true".
      • by TopShelf (92521) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:51AM (#6433912) Homepage Journal
        Exactly - that's why, for anything other than IE to succeed, it needs to offer a truly compelling reason to get people to install and use it over IE. No longer does IE have to be the best - it just has to be good enough. Good enough to make users comfortable with what they already have, and good enough to make the creation of a greatly superior product an arduous task.

        It's like the author says, however - truly this is a gripe by developers, not users. 9 out of 10 users are quite happy with IE, so much so that if there are any goofy problems with various sites, it's assumed that it's the site's fault, not IE (which, frankly, can often be true).
        • by Pii (1955) <jedi@nOSPAm.lightsaber.org> on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:09AM (#6434050) Journal
          I've always held that IE's stranglehold on the web, and nose-thumbing at W3C standards, would come to a rapid close the day that AOL replaced IE with Mozilla (Netscape, Firebird, whatever) in the latest and greatest AOL client software update.

          30 Million users is no joke... When an Internet commerce site starts getting complaints that AOL users can't navigate their site, or buy their wares, they're going to clean up that spaghetti web code quickly.

          We tend to dismiss AOL users, and their chosen ISP, as being the Internet's tricycle set. Let's not overlook their potential as an economic engine for change.

          • by gabec (538140) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:14PM (#6434554)
            That's been said a million times since Mozilla went 1.0 and AOL announced it was switching to Netscape. The truth is that first of all, AOL is an unhealthy company that is quickly becoming obsolete. Secondly, for those that are in the far-off world of dial-up and are the users to consider AOL as a snazzy way to access the internet, most of them have been using AOL for quite some time now and are in no rush to go upgrading to the latest greatest version. They're simply not the tech-savvy type.

            One of my close friends related to me his situation with his mother. She's on AOL 3.0. three-point-oh. She's afraid upgrading will lose her bookmarks or settings or something. Wow.

            So sure, 30 Million AOL subscribers. How many of those will be running AOL 8+? How many will revolt at the change and open IE instead?

            In other news

            Did anyone else feel this article was more like a really long blog entry or something? One big vomit of poorly contrived opinions?

            Though what is said about IE7 is interesting. It looks like Microsoft will be doing a Mozilla with its browser. (Rewriting it from the ground up and taking an assload of time to do it.)

            Which implies to me that right now is the hump-time for alternate browsers. In the gap between now and "MS Windows 2006" kicks off the newest "hey now we've integrated all the OSS features we found on the net!" version of IE that puts everyone back to the drawing board as far as "why we should continue" / "how can we improve" etc., browsers like Mozilla/Netscape and Opera will have a very good window for promoting their wares.

            Anyway, wtf was up with all the *seriously* tedious browser "roles"? Can anyone that read that crap tell me which one was referred to as "Innocent Victim of Brutal Murder"? "Sympathetic Outsider"? or even "Tragically Misunderstood Prophet"?! Though "Senile Evil Dinosaur Usurper", while convoluted and missing appropriate hyphenation, fits. But damn that got old quick.

        • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:28PM (#6434681) Journal
          No longer does IE have to be the best - it just has to be good enough.

          Thing is, users don't decide if it's good enough. We (the developers [and our employers]) are the ones that determine if it is good enough. If we use features that IE doesn't support in our websites, IE is not good enough.

          If [phoenix|firebird|???] realizes it's potential quickly enough, it's unlikely that it will fail to gain market share, particularly since it's open source nature would make it ideally suited as a vehicle for OEMs to make a mark on the users desktop.

          For example, I could see HP rebadging [phoenix|firebird|???] and making it the default browser for their systems, particularly if their experiments with Mandrake go well... they could support the same browser on Linux and Mac and reduce training costs in their call centers, a pretty good incentive if you ask me.

          Besides all this, IE is likely to continue to be a vehicle for virii, and Microsoft are unlikely to take any steps against intrusive advertisers, which means those will remain two areas where another browser can offer real added value to the consumer and motivate them to switch on their own. Lets be realistic, installing another browser is not exactly rocket science, is it?

    • by KillerHamster (645942) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:46AM (#6433873) Homepage

      Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser.

      But people will be less likely to switch OS's if their favorite applications won't work on anything but Windows. If someone is already used to Mozilla, then switching to Linux will be easier, since the interface and configuration are basically the same, and all the user's bookmarks, preferences, and email can be imported.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:02AM (#6433996)
        If someone is already used to Mozilla, then switching to Linux will be easier
        That is like saying learning your multiplication tables will make learning calculus easier. Technically true, but...
      • by tfreport (458641) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:32PM (#6434731)
        Exactly. People need to realize this. I started with Slashdot (learning some interesting tech stuff), read about Mozilla (at home - here at work, I am stuck with IE) and so I tried that, then figured that I would give OpenOffice a try (when it reach 1.0.1), and finally I have now have given Redhat a shot (in a duel boot setting). While I always thought Linux would be interesting to try out, it wasn't until most of what I did already (Internet and Office Apps) migrated from MS to OSS in Windows that I was ready to try Linux.

        I think this may be the way that Linux can convince more people to move over. Show them they do not need MS and in fact can get better options from other sources. Then boom switch their desktop.

        Now I just need to learn MySQL and then I will have no need for MS again.
    • by Kosi (589267) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:47AM (#6433881)
      Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser.

      As we didn't have OS/2, BeOS and some others to teach us that no OS can win without popular applications.
    • Climate of fear (Score:5, Informative)

      by Epeeist (2682) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:51AM (#6433909) Homepage
      Agreed - at work we recently had a query about spam and popups. Two or three of us suggested using Mozilla or Netscape instead of IE. We pointed out the ability to suppress popups and minimise email spam within the Netscape mailer in addition to the lower chances of viruses.

      To put it mildly we were howled down. People wanted to continue with IE and Outlook. They were happy to add absurd bits of additional software to stop duff information getting as far as IE and Outlook, but they weren't prepared to change them.
      • Re:Climate of fear (Score:5, Insightful)

        by generic-man (33649) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:22AM (#6434136) Homepage Journal
        Outlook is not just an e-mail client. Outlook also provides groupware such as calendars, task management, and e-mail gateways to the same. Many people in a corporate environment depend on these features to help them stay organized. In Outlook, it is convenient when scheduling a meeting to look up the shared calendars of all potential attendees and try to schedule around potential conflicts. In Outlook, it is nice to send a task as a small, vCal (?) compatible e-mail attachment.

        There are many open source applications (Evolution, for example) that can interoperate with Outlook in a mixed-OS environment. However, it's naive at best to think that Mozilla Mail can replace Outlook all by itself.
    • People generally don't want to change what comes with their system
      Take over the desktop. then worry about a browser. Are you kidding? Taking over the browser is too confusing, so they should try taking over the entire OS first? Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but if people are scared of new browser, why the hell would they want to change their entire operating system? I say start small - once people see the benefits of open source apps, they might start opening their eyes to bigger things.
    • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani AT dal DOT net> on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:56AM (#6433950)
      This is true. BUT!

      When I'm talking to someone about the internet and they mention how annoying popups are, I mention mozilla. I mention the popup killing and the fact that I find it renders things slightly faster than IE. People want it, instantly.

      Its not a matter of getting people to change - they will WANT to change if the product is worth it. Its simply a matter of getting the word out there. Build it, and they will come, once you tell them how the hell to get there.
      • by AndrewCox (180128) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:44AM (#6434319)
        Have you tried the new Google toolbar with pop-up blocker? I've tried about a half a dozen pop-up blockers and they all failed in some respect (either blocked legitimate scripting or didn't block all pop-ups).

        No pop-up has gotten through in 2 weeks of using the new Google toolbar and every site that relies on Javascript for navigation still works.
      • I installed Firebird on one of the 4 computers at my house. The rest of my family is not very technical minded, but within a week I was getting requests to install it on all the computers. Which I happily did.
    • by WTFmonkey (652603) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:58AM (#6433968)
      I agree, but this argument won't hold for much longer. Now that kids are growing up with the computers and learning about them in school, we'll soon be reaching a technicalogical (I know, but I like that better than "technological") equiilibrium of sorts. The "new users" will have the know-how ingrained into them and will feel confident enough to say, "Fuck the bloat, I'm installing Mozilla (or Opera, or Lynx, or...)." They'll grow up knowing about computers just like kids in the sixties knew about cars.
      • They'll grow up knowing about computers just like kids in the sixties knew about cars.

        This is one of the most brilliant comments I've seen all day. This is also why Linux itself gains ground, and why the article's story script requirement of a single good guy is flawed. It is because future generations will not be naturally afraid of computers. The monolithic ideal of the same software vendor for your OS, browser, etc. will lose value as time goes on, because Joe sixpack of tomorrow won't fear the com

        • by thryllkill (52874) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:59AM (#6434451) Homepage Journal
          God damn I hate giving up the ability to mod this discussion, but I gotta say something.

          I disagree with both this post, and it's parent. Most of the kids I know who are "growing up" with computers know less than the regular users of yesterday (they not only know what a command line was, but what to do with it too). They don't know about Mozilla or Opera, they know about AIM and Yahoo messanger, and free blogs that don't require knowing anything.

          They're not afraid of computers cause it is an everyday part of their life, not cause they know about them. The computer has been dumbed down to the level of the television for most of them. Being a computer nerd is not as bad a rap these days because it takes almost no commitment or learning to be obsessed with using the thing.
          • by jd142 (129673) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:22PM (#6434620) Homepage
            I work in tech support at a college, and this is right on the money. If it isn't a chat program or word, they can't use it. I've sent students selfextracting zip files and they didn't know how to save an attachment in their webmail, as an example that happened just today.

            What's worse is that they think they know what they're doing. 5 years ago, they were willing to admit they didn't know how to use a computer, while now they think that because they use hotmail, they're computer savvy.

      • Bloat is a false issue. IE loads in less than a second, and responds promptly. It's fast enough.

        Download size is even sillier. I've got nearly a gig of MP3s, a web cache of over a gig, and you think I care about 60 Mb vs. 6 MB? Or even 100 MB to 1 MB? 60 MB is .05% of a new 120 GB drive.

        And spare me the "Wait.... what if I'm running on my old 386SX-16 Mhz? "

      • by ??? (35971) <k AT kobly DOT com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @04:47PM (#6437064)
        Kids have been growing up with computers for a long time already. We have a generation through school that has been exposed to computers throughout their school life. This has encouraged some of them to think and feel confident enough to challenge the status quo.

        This has encouraged the vast majority to simply use what is placed in front of them. Just as we have had a number of generations immersed in a life with cars, the vast majority of these people are not able to tinker with their cars, to modify them, or even to properly understand them.

        There are a small number of people who think critically, explore and challenge. There are a vast majority who go with the flow.
    • by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:02AM (#6433999) Homepage
      I agree with you ... BUT, they aren't incapable of making the change. They just need a good reason...

      I'll say this to start: Firebird .6 seriously kicks ass! Its the browser I've been wanting for a long time. Gecko is good, but the standard Mozilla implemention is bloated and it sucks too much. That's why firebird is nice... light, fast, and only the features I want. Nothing more.

      The good reason we can give for the IE tards out there that don't want to switch ... POP-UPS! Christ... all we need is an anchor on CNN (they're AOLTIMEWARNER, RIGHT? They *could* easily push firebird/mozilla) to do a 1 minute piece about how IE sucks and Firebird is better.

      The EASILY demonstrated value in Firebird/mozilla is the pop-up blocking feature. I bet that if Joe and Sally Q. Computeruser knew that there's an easier to use web browser that doesn't bombard them with POP-UPS, they'd download and install in an instant.

      Installing firebird is a piece of cake by the way... download, click the icon, the browser starts to run. Can't really get much easier than that.
      • by paladin_tom (533027) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:04PM (#6434489) Homepage

        all we need is an anchor on CNN (they're AOLTIMEWARNER, RIGHT? They *could* easily push firebird/mozilla) to do a 1 minute piece about how IE sucks and Firebird is better.

        If Microsoft did this, the whole Slashdot community would denounce the action as evil; ergo, it's just as evil for our guys to do it.

        Besides, there's already enough propaganda on CNN! :-)

    • IE is still the dominant browser, because Windows is the dominant desktop platform

      That's part of it, but IE is also the better browser. I've tried the assorted varieties of browsers and IE comes out on top for speed and usability. Opera is a close 2nd though, but it's not worth paying for (given that I use an ad-blocking proxy I don't want an ad built into my browser so the free version is out). IE passed NN/Mozilla/etc in quality around IE 3 which was...1997?

      You are correct, though, that people don't
      • I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

        by griblik (237163) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:35AM (#6434239)
        That's part of it, but IE is also the better browser... IE passed NN/Mozilla/etc in quality around IE 3 which was...1997?

        I'm a front-end web developer, so I usually have a range of browsers on my kit, and use them all on a regular basis.

        Personally, my browser of choice is Opera, but I'm finding more and more that my second choice is becoming Netscape - and this from someone who remembers well the nightmare that was NS4.x (it still makes me shudder). Mozilla's pretty good too, I like it, I just have to use NS6 and 7 as part of my job (and cos I'll get bitch-slapped by /. for not testing my pages) so I'm more familiar with them.

        I'd agree that IE3 was probably better than NS3, and that IE4 kicked the crap out of NS4, but lately, I'm finding IE to be slow and buggy, and it's literally the last browser I start when nothing else will do (hotmail, anyone?).

        Just my 2p, but imho the only reason IE's still the most commonly used browser is that it's what comes on most people's kits. It used to be the best browser out there - it's not any more. Gimme cookie controls, popup blocking, tabbed browsing every time...

  • Excellent article. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aeinome (672135) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:40AM (#6433834) Journal
    I agree with it on all counts. Microsoft is evil, Explorer is old, and we should move away from it. Unfortunately, most people don't care, and most of the other web browsers aren't all that final. Still, the next "Browser Wars" will be very interesting indeed.
    • by WeeLad (588414) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:02AM (#6433997) Journal
      I tried to get my (casual PC user) roommate to switch to Mozilla, thinking that if he only knew the benefits and became familiar with it, he'd switch.

      I installed Mozilla an made it the default browser. I put the icon on the desktop for him, right next to the IE Icon. I even clicked through it once for him and told him it would keep those nasty pop-ups from bugging him (for which he constantly had a new combination of swear words).

      Still, every time I see him browsing, it's with IE. Time to give up? Old habits die hard.

  • by ACK!! (10229) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:41AM (#6433836) Journal
    Come on, I know that Mozilla and IE and Netscape are the big dogs relatively speaking.

    What about Konqueror, Safari for the Macheads, Galeon, Opera or Firebird?

    I have always liked Galeon myself. Still Epiphany is supposed to be good and there are a zillion reasons for using an alt browser. What are yours?

    • by Jellybob (597204) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:58AM (#6433969) Journal
      Interesting... you seem to mention the same browser several times:

      Come on, I know that Mozilla and IE and Netscape are the big dogs relatively speaking.

      So, that would be Mozilla, IE and Mozilla which are big dogs.

      What about Konqueror, Safari for the Macheads, Galeon, Opera or Firebird?

      And then kHTML, kHTML, Mozilla, Opera, and Mozilla.

      I have always liked Galeon myself. Still Epiphany is supposed to be good.

      And then the ever pressing decision of Mozilla against... oh. Mozilla. (They even have near identical interfaces, both being GTK2 based.)
    • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:00AM (#6433979) Homepage Journal
      I've been using Opera [opera.com] (in "free with banner-ad" mode) for maybe a couple hundred years now -- don't know how long for real, because I cringe at the thought of using Explorer. I used to have to switch to IE for some work-required sites, but the new version (7.11, aka the "Slurpee" [bradfitz.com] version) has whittled my IE requirements down to just one boneheaded site.

      But the best test came when my mother sat down to do a job search using IE. She was immediately assailed by popups, so I helpfully pointed out that you don't get popups with Opera unless you want them. I showed her where to click... and she's hooked. Score one more for the Norwegians!

      On the other hand, my wife and 12-year-old daughter don't like Opera. In both cases, I think it's because Opera doesn't have enough security holes, and it interferes with their game downloads. I shudder to think what I might find if I were to install ZoneAlarm...
  • Web site stats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:41AM (#6433837)

    Funnily enough I was just checking the stats for a client web site and for the first time both Mozilla (about 5%) and Linux (about 2%) got into my report to the client. The web site is for engineers and my prediction is that engineers are going to be the first significant user of linux on the desktop over the next couple of years.

  • by cruppel (603595) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:43AM (#6433851) Homepage
    this is propaganda

    Come on. He even admits it. I can think of a couple ways of writing this article, transmitting the same information, and not come off as a bigot at the same time. It's rather interesting to read, but he is speaking for the browsers more than he needs to, let them speak for themselves!

    He's also obsessed with CSS (but we won't talk about standards in this article, no not any), like that's the only point you consider when picking/develpoing for a browser. Sure it's important, I use it a ton don't get me wrong, but it is not the only thing with IE that I have trouble developing for.

    • He's also obsessed with CSS, like that's the only point you consider when picking/develpoing for a browser.

      As a developer (including some web development), I can understand his obsession. Knowing which CSS properties are supported are essential to designing a good web site. If you use styles to highlight certain parts of your web page tehy won't be highlighted if the browser does not support the CSS properties you are using.

      Personally, I will either a) develop a web page based on the standard PC configur

  • Too bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by presroi (657709) <neubau@presroi.de> on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:45AM (#6433862) Homepage
    I really miss the "Software war" map which used to be at atai.org

    The last update has been 2002 and it never got updated since.
  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:46AM (#6433867)
    Unless MS is forced to remove IE from Windows as default IE will remain in the dominant position regardless of which browser has the best features. Having AOL and MSN both using IE must help too. Chances are that casual PC owners who just do a bit of browsing, a bit of emailing and type the occasional letter will have not even considered that anything other than IE exsists. Like the way people look for the "Microsoft Word" link on Linux boxes to type a letter. MS has so ingrained the general user base with their apps and their names that it will be an uphill struggle to get people to even realise there are alternative browsers out there. :(
  • by fozzy(pro) (267441) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:47AM (#6433879)
    I agree IE MAC was certainly moree css compliant then the windows version, but only slightly so. IE MAC is slow and slugish on most macs comapred to just about every other browser it also crashes frequently. The macs i use are top end, with lots of ram, lots of hd space and they are constamtly replaced and teh same problems persist with IE MAC. Saffari is not bad, but it's not that hot...i'm not a big mozilla fan, buty the mozilla family is tops in OS X land, it is the fastest most compliant browser i have used on a MAC.
    • It's Mac not "MAC."

      It's Safari not "Saffari."

      It's the not "teh."

      Kidding :)

      IE was the best browser on the Mac probably since 4.5, and certainly since 5.0. There's no question about that. Was it the best browser period? I think it was, crashes notwithstanding. It lost what was left of it's lustre, though, when it came to OS X.

      Mozilla is slow and ugly. Safari is clearly it's equal or it's better and six months time will see it clearly surpass all competitiors on the Mac.

      The real question is, will the
  • Old thinking? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lysol (11150) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:48AM (#6433896)
    Granted, a lot of web developers have had to deal with IE, but it seems to me with the only mention of Moz as being in trouble is, well, kinda stupid. I keep reading Moz keeps getting better and better and sure enough, with each release it does get better and better. And so do the browsers based on Gecko. If anything, Moz has crossed over that hump that IE is hitting now. And let's not forget all the neat stuff coming out in XUL. Sure, it needs to be faster, but the possibilities are interesting. Especially if you don't wanna be M$'s bitch.

    Maybe it's because I mostly focus on enterprise apps and not too much on client side stuff, but frankly, this guy downplays standards too much, which to me is bizarre because the whole non-standards thing is how we got into this whole mess of one browser no innovation crap. Yah sure, standards take long and companies innovate faster. But, look who you signed on the dotted line when all you web creators went strictly IE. Yes, the f-ing devil.

    I probably live in the dreamy stratosphere demanding on most of my projects that we find ways around IE only stuff and make the application robust, secure, and stable, which to me and end users is far more important than js, layers and whatnot. Sure, I also know there are plenty of people who need jazzy sites and have to deal with these issues but you only have to be burned so many times to realize that you need to pull your hand away from the flame.

    I guess though, I just feel like design on Moz based browsers and tweak for the rest. Because in time, these scales are going to tip out of IE's favor. I know, I'm in the minority, but I also want my stuff to work. I sacrafice a little zing for a better development experience. Cuz in the end, the users don't care.
  • there is hope (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sootman (158191) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:51AM (#6433910) Homepage Journal
    From the article:
    If Explorer 7 will be tied to the new OS, it will take at least another two years (and probably three) before it becomes available.


    The famous talk show transcript says: "Further improvements to IE will require enhancements to the underlying OS." I tentatively translate this line as "We cannot improve IE any more" because it fits with an idea I've had in the back of my mind for two years now.

    Why is Microsoft unwilling to fix the CSS bugs that everyone's been asking it to fix for ages? I think it's not unwilling but unable to do so. Explorer's code engine cannot be updated any more.
    Good, maybe the'll do a ground-up rewrite, falter for a few years, and give someone else a chance to get on top (see this article [joelonsoftware.com].) Someone standards-compliant and not in bed with every large company on the planet.
  • The Biggest Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dark Paladin (116525) * <jhummel&johnhummel,net> on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:53AM (#6433926) Homepage
    There is no browser.

    I think after all I've seen, that's the biggest point, and the biggest reason why using Windows really stuck in my craw (well, other than crashing, being less efficient than Unix, crashing, not letting me do what I wanted unlike Unix systems, etc).

    It was that it usually didn't matter what you did - if Microsoft put it in your face, the people would use it.

    People don't start their browser - they start the Internet. They'll tell you so - they click on the icon marked "Internet" and off they go. They don't use a document editor, they use Word, and if they use Wordperfect they'll usually say "Wordperfect", though in the back of their head they'll say "that thing I use for editing typed stuff".

    Mac users (and I'm one of them - recent convert, thank you for asking) use Safari because it's there.

    My fear for Google is that people will say "I'll just google that", and type in a search string into their little browser bar, and be taken right to MSN search.

    Microsoft: Hey, what's the problem with that? We're not a monopoly, after all!

    Me: Yes, you are. Just stop pretending otherwise, please. While there are millions who honestly don't give a flying fuck, I do. This is no different than in the old USSR when there were two telivision channels - Channel 1 was propoganda, Channel 2 was a guy telling you "Hey, go back to Channel 2. There's nothing else here."

    That's the only reason why I wish OS X would come to the i386 platform.

    (I'm going to pause here because I know the screams of people foaming at the mouth. "Apple will never do it! They're addicted to hardware!" "If they did, Microsoft would do to Apple what they did to BeOS and threaten computer manufacturers to never let it on their systems".

    I know - it will never happen, and that's why I use the term "wish".)

    Or my hopes that as more businesses turn to Linux based solutions for the business and start putting it on the desktops to save themselves hordes of money rather than paying another huge Microsoft Enterprise Licensing fee, that more businesses will start being able to say "Well, the cost of making Microsoft angry is now less than putting Dell Linux on a system - so let's do that." (Of course, that will mean that somebody will have to do for Linux what Apple did for it's BSD based subsystem - oh, and make it easier to play games on Linux than it was trying to get Quake II installed.

    I'm going to pause here again for more foaming at the mouth people telling me it was easy to get Quake II running on a Red Hat system if only I remember to compile support for something somewhere. I know, I'm an idiot, I bask in your knowledge and lay be belly and bar it at you to acknowledge your greatness. Feel better? I never got Quake II to really run on Linux, so I gave up and installed it on a Windows machine. Thanks for playing.)

    I'm waiting and watching the future, so we'll have to see what it does.

    My point? Browsers don't matter. Office suites don't matter. OS doesn't matter. What matters is that the user can sit down and do their shit (whatever particular shit that happens to be), and not think about how they do their shit. Once that happens, businesses can just change out the parts that the users need to get the cheapest/most efficient/most effective shit making stuff.

    When that day is truly, completly realized - then it will be Microsoft who is in the shit, because they'll have to truly, honestly compete. Not just put up whatever shit they want and expect me to swallow it.

    Of course, this is just my opinion. I could very well be wrong.
    • by Rinikusu (28164)
      I really really hate people that use arguments like: /* This is no different than in the old USSR */
      It just shows that you're clueless and have absolutely zero respect for the millions who did suffer under the USSR. What's the penalty for disagreeing with USSR politics when you were in the USSR? Imprisonment, confinement, exile to Siberia, "disappearance". What's the penalty for not liking Microsoft? Linux. MacOS. BeOS. (indeed, some people wouldn't even consider that to be "punishment") Whatever, t
    • Re:The Biggest Point (Score:4, Interesting)

      by kisrael (134664) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:10AM (#6434064) Homepage
      People don't start their browser - they start the Internet. They'll tell you so - they click on the icon marked "Internet" and off they go. They don't use a document editor, they use Word, and if they use Wordperfect they'll usually say "Wordperfect", though in the back of their head they'll say "that thing I use for editing typed stuff".
      The interesting thing is that in some ways, this is pointing to the fufillment of a long term dream of computer usage patterns. You're not concerned about your tools, you're just doing your tasks. In its ubiquity, the brand is getting more and more transparent.

      I'm not saying it's good that this path of carefree electronic life is looking so propietary, but it could be worse.
    • by mog (22706)
      Mac users (and I'm one of them - recent convert, thank you for asking) use Safari because it's there.

      Have you used Safari? If you have, you should know that we use Safari not because it's there, but rather because it's really, really good. Not perfect, sure - but it has a real future, and it's getting better all the time.
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:55AM (#6433939) Homepage Journal
    I don't know the exact figures, but a fairly large number of websites continue to use Microsoft IIS to power their webservers.

    As long as the Microsoft IIS server continues to favor IE, (can't find the older /. articles about IIS circumventing the standard HTTP protocol to serve pages faster to IE, and also display crappy pages on Mozilla) rather than serving pages fairly across all browsers, and continues to be as widely as Apache, IE will still remain in the game. Simply because general home users wont understand why some pages crap out with Mozilla/etc (not designed for any browser other than IE or due to discrimination by IIS).

    It's a pity Apache doesn't start favoring Mozilla/Opera over IE, but I guess that wouldn't be fair play.

  • by revery (456516) * <{charles} {at} {cac2.net}> on Monday July 14, 2003 @10:56AM (#6433952) Homepage
    In the beginning...
    In the beginning was the review, and it was OK. It used Titles for Everything, and as such was a Trailblazer in some ways. It quickly became Old and strangely played the role of The Great Distractor.

    The Players

    This is Part 2

    Part the Third

    There is a great deal of discussion about browsers. Some of it makes Good Sense, but sadly much of it Does Not. There is a War. That much is certain, but

    Who Will Reign Victorious
    Will the Aged Dragon obtain the Dentures of Power and regain the Throne of Browser Supremacy or will his son the Flaming Sparrow recently renamed the Songbird of Fire throw down the Gauntlet of "Bring it on"? Only one thing is certain.

    The Reviewer is unsure

    Finis
  • by AssFace (118098) <stenz77NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:00AM (#6433978) Homepage Journal
    When I was in college from 95-99, it was easy for me to be anti-Microsoft. I didn't particularly know much about it, but I knew that my Win95 machine crashed and therefore those MS people must be morons.
    I knew that there were a lot of others that hated them, so I just sort of figured it was the cool thing to do, hate those bastards.

    Then I started learning more econ and started thinking less as a college student and more rationally in terms of how MS got there, and I stopped hating MS.

    That said, I did hate IE. It sucked nuts. Mosaic was total ass, and at the time Netscape was the bees knees.
    I continued to use Netscape throughout college and was annoyed whenever I had to use IE.

    Then I graduated and began to actually program - my particular projects were nearly all DHTML web applications that were large scale ports of existing legacy apps, moving to the web to allow easier use and upkeep... so they said.
    DHTML on Netscape sucked the hugest and hairy nuts, so we told our clients that they would have to use IE (these were private applications, used in house at many large universities, we weren't designing storefronts that needed to be cross-browser).
    I hadn't seen IE in a long time and was really enjoying working with it compared to the clunky and awkward Netscape.

    As a result, up until about a week ago, I was all for IE. It was fast, worked well with DHTML, and most importantly in the past year or two - it has the Google Toolbar.

    I have been trying out Mozilla for the past few years, but haven't been all that impressed by it - in fact I was really put off by it at first.
    But I just installed 1.4 last week and was really impressed with it - and once I saw that I could get the same Google Toolbar functionality that I used all the time, I realized that I really had a reason to switch now.

    I personally am still sticking with IE at work, b/c I do a lot of IT admin stuff on an MS network, and using IE makes it easier to do some of the MS updates.

    At home I will likely make the switch over to Mozilla to keep track of many e-mail accounts, as well as for my personal web surfing.

    I'm at the point now where I am starting up my own web venture, so I am actually going to have to test for cross browser look and feel, as well as functionality.
    My first test at it showed that Mozilla 1.4 is better at dealing with png graphics than IE 6.something. Mozilla also renders a page faster.

    I haven't used Opera in over two years, I suppose I will need to test that as well on the site. I don't have a Mac, so I can't test any of their browsers.
    I think those should totally cover my target market (I actually think in terms of the business, it will be nearly 99% IE users).

    What does this have to do with anything? Not a whole lot I guess.
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:00AM (#6433980) Homepage Journal
    The whole point of this long blabfest is that now is the time for a browser other than IE to emerge. MS has stated no further IE6 development will continue. No new features, no new standards compliance fixes, no nothing. Don't try to convince end-users about Mozilla's standards compliance. they don't care. Give them real reasons to switch, and they will.
  • by beaverfever (584714) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:05AM (#6434027) Homepage
    This whole browser thing has been going on for so many years, and yet I don't think the question has ever been answered; if a company/group wins the browser wars, what does it get them? Microsoft, Apple, etc. pour how much money into development of software they give away - where's the reward/compensation for the investment?

    The only thing I can think of is an assumption that people would choose an OS based on its proprietary browser (Explorer7 or Safari) but I think everyone would agree that the decision would probably work the other way around (OS first, browser selection consequential).

    If that's not it, what's the answer (the answer to a shareholder's question, perhaps) for pumping money into browser development? Is there a day of reckoning fast approaching when we'll all start paying for browsers and this long-running war is just for future market credibility and establishing a price point?
  • by lateralus (582425) <.yoni-r. .at. .actcom.com.> on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:09AM (#6434055) Journal

    I think that the pretense of the article is wrong. When I reached the point of the article where it said "end users do not care about browsers" I felt like I should stop reading. You are the end user even if you are a developer. If no-one cares about it then why write about it? If no-one understands or cares about CSS then why mention it again and again?

    Not only is the article poorly worded but it states all it's theories and conjectures as if they were facts! Where is the proof?

  • by release7 (545012) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:10AM (#6434062) Homepage Journal
    Web guy: Hey, you should think about switching browsers.

    User: Browser? What's a browser?

    Web guy: A browser is the application---er, software program---that you use to view web pages on the Internet.

    User: Oh. How about them Mets?

  • Heck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Viceice (462967) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:12AM (#6434077)
    ... I'm working my holiday away at a computer store. You know what? 90% of those who bring in their computers complain that their PCs are lagging.

    I ask, "Do you use IE?" They all reply, "Yes!"

    I install Ad-aware and 198 items removed later: "Wow! Thats fast!"

    Using IE is like walking into a battlefield with a big bullseye painted on you.

    • Re:Heck... (Score:5, Funny)

      by bravehamster (44836) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:47AM (#6434345) Homepage Journal
      I'm in the exact same situation. Our current record for Ad-aware items found on a customers computer is 3,796. Seriously. This was on a Sony Vaio in a family with 5 teenagers. Every file-sharing program and cute little computer "enhancement" program known to man had been installed on the computer. Bonzi Buddy, Hotbar, and Comet Cursor were among, but far from the worst of the offenders. On bootup there were over 50 popups and it wasn't even connected to the network yet! They also had 6 different popup blockers installed, none of which were doing a damn thing. We removed every single one of those items, installed Mozilla, taught them the meanings of the words spyware, adware, malware, and how not to click on every button constantly like a burn patient on a morphine drip, and we haven't heard from them since.
  • Explorer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mcc (14761) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:14AM (#6434089) Homepage
    This guy interprets Microsoft's "improving IE any more will require changes to the operating system" as meaning that the IE codebase is so bloated and stuffed that they can't fix bugs anymore without a major rewrite.

    Here's a different theory for you: Microsoft isn't fixing the IE6 css bugs because they don't care, and the "operating system" comment means that IE7 is going to try to move away from HTML and into web-based embedded windows ".Net" (or whatever) applications. Microsoft has from their perspective won the browser wars, and they are finally ready for their long-awaited "Make The Web = Microsoft" step that that whole "open standard" thing has prevented them from for so long.

    Just a thought. But probably not all that paranoid.

    What really interests me is, what happens now that IE has dumped the whole cross-platform-y ness thing? IE's big strength right now is that everyone targets it. IE HTML is standard HTML. What really interests me is the idea that at some point in the future, the idea of targeting Konqueror will begin to begin to look increasingly attractive. After all, there are a nontrivial amount of web designers who use the mac. I'm sure Microsoft is hoping that these web designers will be willing to switch to Windows just so that they can see what their web pages look like for 90% of the customers.

    However, unless things reach the point where (say) Banks can afford to totally ignore all Macintosh and Linux customers (instead of just giving them substandard service), we may start to see the ubiquity of "optimized for IE only" disappear. Big sites like targeting only one browser. If someone comes up with a windows version of Konqueror in the near future (and preferably finds a way to make it muscle into the file browser in IE's place), that browser may well become Konqueror. Konqueror already has a pretty decent amount of mindshare in both Linux and Mac (I don't know any mac users at this point that don't use Safari over IE) and the potentiality that Konqueror could become the one browser that's actually *the same* across *all* platforms might start to look very attractive to web developers at some point-- the sort of thing that Mozilla/Gecko might have at some point fufilled if it had ever become, you know, not painful to use. (Galeon/Phoenix and similar projects may still someday allow Gecko to take on that role.)

    At the least, which sounds more attractive; tell your windows base, some of which have a KHTML-based browser, "you have to have KHTML to view my site", or tell EVERYONE except those with the brand new IE8.NET2WINDOWS2007WEB "you can't use my site at all".
    • Re:Explorer (Score:3, Insightful)

      What really interests me is the idea that at some point in the future, the idea of targeting Konqueror will begin to begin to look increasingly attractive.

      I don't think that will happen for a long long time, if ever.

      After all, there are a nontrivial amount of web designers who use the mac.

      Don't kid yourself. Market areas vary, but not that much. Most web work is still carried out on a PC, in order to work with Internet Explorer, which is what the users use. The Mac market share is still only 2% or l

  • by CrazyWingman (683127) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:15AM (#6434092) Journal
    This is an interesting article, in light of the one a couple of weeks ago about browser innovation being dead [slashdot.org]. That article almost seemsed to talk about the idea that in order for any browser to come out on top, a new interface for browsing would be necessary. This article, however, is more focussed on stability and standards conformity as the way to win the "Browser Wars."

    I don't know as I can say what people really want more - stable browsers, or new [useful] features. I know I'm all for the stable/reliable/unified/etc. browser design, but then again, I'm not a M$-using consumer whore. :P
  • Mozilla (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rathian (187923) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:15AM (#6434093)
    I love Mozilla, have contributed to Mozilla, recommend Mozilla, and use it for my everyday browing. It's a great browser!

    But this guy does have one valid point when it comes to Mozilla - it needs BUSINESS WINS. Until companies start adopting Mozilla as their core browser technology it will likely be always relagated to the back room.

    Does Mozilla have evangelists? If not, it needs some.

  • by davemac30 (637917) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:16AM (#6434101)
    A few years ago, in London, during the Internet silly season, somebody had the bright idea of gathering sysadmins and web developers together and plying them with free beer. This happened on the first Tuesday of each month for about a year or so. So I went to Techie Tuesday, as it was known, once. Of course the majority of the punters were recruiters who had rapidly changed into sweatshirts on their way up west from the city. There was the odd nerd, though. After some deeply unfulfilling chit-chat with one such low-life, I was asked the question 'So, what is your favourite browser'. I left and never went back.
  • slow down there (Score:4, Insightful)

    by August_zero (654282) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:26AM (#6434157)
    Is that all supposed to be true? I mean the facts seem ok but the structure of the piece resembles the ramblings of someone that is on waaaaay too much speed. Note for the future: Metaphors can only be stretched so far, at some point the facts need to stand on their own.

    It would be interesting if it was better written, I guess that is what I am trying to say.
  • by MojoRilla (591502) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:29AM (#6434183)
    The article seems to take Microsoft at face value when it says it can't change its browser. This is hogwash. It won't change its browser, because it is dominant.

    I don't believe for a minute that the code base is so bloated that they can't change it. In the late 1990's, when they weren't dominant, new features and versions were released all the time.

    The only reason MS spent money on IE in the first place was to keep people from viewing the operating system as a commodaty (gee, I can get everything I need through the web on any platform, why buy MS Windows). Once they established IE as the dominant web browser, they relaxed. People need to buy Windows cause it is the best (only for some sites) way to browse the web.

    IE hasn't kept up with the times (CSS bugs, bad png support, no tabbed browsing, popup blocking, etc). But now that it is dominant, people write to its bugs. IE is the only browser that can view some websites. Even though I use Mozilla as my primary browser, I still fire up IE once or twice a week.

    And Microsoft has no motivation to fix it. Why would they? When you have 95% of the desktop and 95% of the browser market, why spend a dime? Every version of IE they release costs them millions of dollars in development, testing and support. Why spend a lot of money to change a product that people are happy with?

    Instead, Microsoft is concentrating its efforts on new ways to make money, like DRM and "safe computing" (which gives them a new profit center in code signing, validation, and security tools).
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:37AM (#6434261)
    Kind of impressed with it. I'm a big fan of Mozilla (I kinda *like* the swiss-army-knife approach). However, when setting up my son's account on my home computer, I found that Playhouse Disney works better on Konquerer. I've also used Opera and I like it, but Java apps seem to crash it a lot in my experience. Were it not for that, I think I'd prefer it to Mozilla.

    BTW - my son is 2 1/2 years old. He calls my Debian installation "Penguin and Dragon" after the boot Logo and KDE splash screen. I actually installed Debian because I'd heard good things about the childrens program "gcompris". It has definately lived up to what I've heard about it.

  • by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:48AM (#6434360) Homepage
    For the first time in three years something has happened in browser land. In fact, major events have started happening at a breathtaking pace.

    I'm sorry, but what are these "major events"? I read the article and only saw an overview of the past and some predictions about the future. But there is no mention (that I could find) of any "major events" that are happening "for the first time in three years."

    Is the major event that these guys have concluded that IE isn't viable long-term? That would mean that the major event is that these guys came to a conclusion, which sounds fairly minor to me. Maybe it's KHTML being used for Safari. I guess that could be major to a Mac person, even if the rest of the planet never notices.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday July 14, 2003 @11:54AM (#6434409)
    The article author is correct - there is an opportunity now for lots of people to take on a new browser. Pop-up blocking alone is worthwhile.

    How do do it? Firebird release, AOL style! You build a custom CD image with firebird set up in the most friendly way, perhaps with a quick tutorial explaining what tabs are and how popups are blocked. Then anyone can download the image, burn some CD's and make use of AOL kiosks in stores to distribute the browser images. Put a snazzy cover on the front explaining "Free browser! Blocks popups dead!! Tab support!! Better online bank support!!" and at least a few people would take them, and tell others about the browser as well.

    Key is to make sure the windows login integration code is in place so the things will work at work, also the distro should have mozilla mimic IE ID strings close enough that detection sites will not block the browser.

    Make sure the CD works OK on the Mac too, even though the Mac has Safari there are times when it's nice to have Mozilla around.
  • by WestonB (53247) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `naartsubw'> on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:07PM (#6434514)
    Microsoft's decision to move to a browser inseparable from the OS will become a major thorn in their own side, and possibly end up helping out the various alternative browsers out there.

    The key thing to notice is that for Windows 95 through Windows XP, IE 6 is effectively the last Microsoft browser those OS's will be able to run. This means that, in order to see any new features from IE 7+ users will need to replace their entire OS. This is where Microsoft's huge marketshare starts to work against them. Even now, there are large numbers of people who refuse to upgrade from Win9x because their current machine cannot handle the newest versions or because their happy with don't see the point in upgrading. Microsoft will have to fight there own installed user base.

    Case in point: I have one machine with an Intel processor in it. It's an old Gateway laptop. It was running NetBSD for learning purposes. I needed to be able to run a few windows-only apps, so I broke down and decided to install Windows. This laptop can't really handle anything over Win98SE, so that's what I installed. In the process, I ran Windows Update and updated IE to version 6. But, according to Microsoft, after version 6, there will never be a higher version of IE available for this machine. So what am I to do? I'm not going to spend money on a new machine, at least not another x86 machine. Fortunately, Firebird is available, and is more than up to the task. My little laptop will be surfing the web for at the near future.

    If websites start designing for features found in IE7, large groups of people will be left behind. Large groups of people will complain because sites don't display properly in their 'old' version of IE6; sort of like the situation Netscape 4 was in. In Netscape 4's case, when a better alternative came on the scene ( IE4 ), people dumped Netscape. People will now be faced with a new decision; do I shell out the cash to upgrade my OS and possibly my machine, or is there a way to view the latest and greatest websites on my current machine?

    Since IE will cease to be an option in this case, people will be forced to look for alternatives. Hopefully, one of the alternative browsers will be there with open arms.
  • by Dracos (107777) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:12PM (#6434547)

    The browser wars are over. Pitting products against each other is now pointless, because the rules of engagement have changed.

    The new conflict is the Standards War, where the features (or lack thereof) of the products stand toe to toe. The W3C now decrees the rules of war, not various marketing departments.

    A side skirmish in this will be about user interface: tabs, popup blocking, etc.

    The announcement about IE6 development being at an end is not news: a resourceful googler could put together the pieces months ago, as I did. The only thing not verified yet is a bit about IE7 only being useable on an MSN account, which seems like MS shooting themselves in the foot.

    MacIE suffered its fate because MS is a poor loser, but a smart one. They know Apple is going to do the same thing on Mac that MS did on Windows.

    Many people (the author of the article included) forget that Mozilla is not a commercial product, which is why there is still a Netscape branded browser.

    Many forward thinking people are beginning to realize that over the next decade, the desktop based browser will become an ever shrinking peice of the browser market. PDA's, phones, kitchen appliances will all have browsers. The embedded browser is coming fast. Is IE6 capable of being embedded in anything? The correct question is: Is Windows capable of being embedded in anything? Probably not. Will IE7 be embeddable? Ask about Longhorn instead. Mozilla (Gecko) is capable of being embedded, so MS has already fallen behind once again.

    I personally wouldn't even put Opera on the battlefield, they're like Switzerland: capable and organized, but too small to make a difference and not interested anyway.

  • by gmezero (4448) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:25PM (#6434646) Homepage
    The reason IE is getting the overhaul that it's receiving is so that it can be fully integrated into Microsofts DRM efforts. Microsoft is moving towards making it so that every single bit of data that moves across your PC has a digital signature. IIS is a part of this effort as well. The next major iteration of IIS will include server verified signatures with all of the files. Signatures that only IE will be able to process. This will go one step beyond the Key signatures that you know today in the web world... Then Microsoft will toute their platform as the only true one-to-one path of content control for publishers. ("Look, we can track every single file anywhere, and you can even put an 'end of life' on your file to make sure people don't retain a copy or mirror of the data! Isn't that great!")

    Don't believe me? Read your EULA with Media Player 9. This program is the priming piece of their technology on the user end, and fundamentally changes all of your Microsoft software rights the moment you install it... and they've already trained a whole new generation of users to call MS everytime they want to activate their OS.

    You'll also start to see this implemented in the next year or so when they start to offer limited productivy aps to next generation X-Box Live subscribers (eg, Longhorn web services). ...two years isn't all that much time people, and unless something radical happens in the OSS world **right now**, it will come and go and MS will be even deeper entrenched.
  • by iceT (68610) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:51PM (#6434931)
    Opera, while a nice, lean, fast browser, has a couple of major flaws in it that would ever keep it from being the king of the heap:

    1) It isn't free. People haven't been paying for browsers since the web first started. IE was always free, and Netscape had that 'evaluation' clause that didn't have any boundry. People aren't going to want PAY for a browser, and then download 6 meg, and have nothing tangible to show for it. Unless Opera finds a business model where it's free, it will always be 'niche'.

    2) I know I'm going to get a lot of flack for this, but, opera doesn't have a mail client.
    IE has Outlook Express. Mozilla has Mail&News. If Joe Homepc doesn't want to buy a browser, you can BET they don't want to go out after that and buy a mail client. Email, after all these years, is STILL the killer app for the Internet. Mom's and Dad's aren't getting internet access because they like CSS. Email is the first reason, and then, MAYBE, the web after that.

    Opera is a great browser for those who have very specific requirements for a web browser, but it is not the 'browser for the common man'.
  • Bang! Flash! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jefu (53450) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:52PM (#6434941) Homepage Journal
    I heard someone (and someone with some technical savvy too) the other day bemoan the fact that macromedia doesn't make a browser. There were a number of reasons - but reliable Flash was a big one.

    I have not measured (time to do that, I think) but I suspect now that around three percent of web sites I visit are now flash only and probably about three times that have a signficant flash component.

    Designers like flash - it gives them lots of power and lots of ways to restrict the user into seeing a web site the way the designer (or the marketroid who owns the designer) wants. Then too, its a standard. And finally it is certainly browser neutral (modulo the usual problems where it doesn't run on this machine or that - which is, of course, the users fault for choosing such non-standard platforms).

    So, I think the article has it wrong. None of the current browsers will survive long. Someone will build a flash/shockwave platform that manages to display html and take over the world.

    I have seen the future and it is unstoppable flash popups!

  • by Control-Z (321144) on Monday July 14, 2003 @12:55PM (#6434979)
    I like IE, it's fast and works great. I've used it ever since Asheron's call forced me to install IE5....

    But I've had it with popups, and the "last stand-alone" version of IE is the final straw. So I've switched to Firebird at home and as of today, at work. Pretty painless transition really, I can even drag and drop my Toolbar quick-links from IE to Firebird. So far so good.

  • by zxSpectrum (129457) on Monday July 14, 2003 @01:00PM (#6435043) Homepage Journal

    Unfortunately, the author has somewhat misunderstood Opera's role in the browser wars.

    The next generation browser wars will not be fought on the desktop - it will be fought on mobile devices, and on embedded devices, a market where Opera doesn't have any competition from either Mozilla, IE or Konqueror/Safari.

    Opera have partnerships with Sony Ericsson, which brings their phone to devices like SonyEricsson P800. Furthermore. Opera is also available, and by far the superior alternative for other mobile devices such as Nokia 3650/7650, effectively bringing a sixth-generation browser with full CSS/DOM-support to handhelds.

    Unlike the Mozilla project, Konqueror or Apple, Opera has created partnerships and made deals with a lot of companies, as outlined here [opera.com].

    As a desktop browser, Mozilla will remain what it is today: An outsider. The browser is too large, or bloated, if you will, with features noone hardly ever uses (And, yes, that goes for Mozilla Firebird as well) - for many desktop users it's just too complicated, and too slow.

    Konqueror will remain a competitive alternative for which platforms it exists - it won't be any better or worse than other alternatives.

    As for Safari, it may well become the dominant alternative for Mac users, but being what they are, a minority, Safari will remain a minority browser.

    Opera is available for all major desktop platforms, and will compete on equal ground with the other browsers.

    As for the behemoth of web-browsing, Internet Explorer; it's days are numbered. Following the statistics for a site like AWStats [sourceforge.net] is interesting reading: The percentage of MSIE users has been decreasing from month to month. Granted, AWStats is a specialty site, mostly interesting to web developers, so it's statistics may be somewhat skewed. Keep in mind though: Web developers are what has made the browser market what it is today, it's web developers that chose to develop for MSIE.

    Finally, the author failed to mention the perhaps most important of the browsing competitors of the future: The Aggregator, enabling users to subscribe to XML feeds, instead of visiting a site by traditional means. The aggregator market is a highly diverse market, with products like NNTP//RSS, Amphetadesk, Radio, RssBandit, FeedReader, FeedDemon and a whole bunch of both commercial and homegrown readers. Many of these either utilise some common browser rendering engine, convert content to plaintext, or have a minimal HTML rendering engine.

  • by Aqua OS X (458522) on Monday July 14, 2003 @01:27PM (#6435300)
    That article, and a million others like it (written by folks who don't know much about the Mac's browser market), claim that Safari came along and was sooo awesome that IE's development on the Mac platform had no choice but to fizzle out.

    Honestly, that couldn't be anything further from the truth.

    Microsoft hasn't legitimately updated Mac IE for -years-. Of course, they've released small fixes for critical bugs and security updates; however, that's it. Mac IE on OS X was littered with hundreds of horribly annoying, very obvious, bugs that have been present since it shipped with Mac OS X Public Beta in 2000. That's almost 3 years!

    Just about every OS X user loathed IE X. It was slow, it crashed, it had UI problems, and it had rendering problems that it's OS 9 cousin didn't have.

    Apple -had- to make Safari. Microsoft was going to let Mac IE rot until Mac users were forced to adopt a better default system browser. Yet, OmniWeb was not standards compliant, Mozilla was too slow with quartz and didn't have a Mac like UI, Opera was still full of bugs, etc.

    But then Camino/Chimera came along. :) Apple began to look at hiring Dave Hyatt and possibly adopting Camino since they were the only glimmer of hope we had to browse the web with any dignity. The only problem with Camino was, as Dave himself has mentioned, that it didn't have a native rendering engine. A gecko browser has less speed potential (among other things) then a native browser. So, what did Apple do? They hired Dave, took a bunch of the great concepts that Camino had, ported KHTML over to X (since it could run natively unlike gecko), got some additional Apple developers, started building in Cocoa, and had Safari beta 1 out in only a few months.

    If Microsoft really gave a damn about IE X they could've built an awesome cocoa browser within 6 to 8 months. Shess... they HAVE enough money. Or, at the very least, they could've fixed the hundreds of tiny bugs that IE X already has. If they did that, there would be no Safari. ...well, at least not now.

    MS is getting back to it's old dirty tactics with the Mac market. They're killing IE, they bought VPC, and they are suing the makers of Real PC. Soon, they only way to check your JavaScript with MS JScript or HTML in Tasman will be to have access to an x86 box. Moreover, soon IE exclusive web sites will be Windows exclusive.

    This is really obnoxious.

"I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid" -- the artificial person, from _Aliens_

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