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IE The Great Microsoft Blunder? 643

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the not-a-shining-example-of-engineering dept.
JordanL writes "Hot on the heels of the beta rollouts of IE 7, comes an editorial from John Dvorak declaring IE the biggest mistake Microsoft has ever made. From the article: 'All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first advertised [...] If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column--billions.'"
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IE The Great Microsoft Blunder?

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  • by SlashChick (544252) * <ericaNO@SPAMerica.biz> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:40PM (#15199369) Homepage Journal
    Dvorak doesn't mention what is probably the greatest profit center related to IE: MSN.com. It's highly unlikely that MSN.com would be the #3 search engine if it weren't for MSN being the default search engine for IE. It's rumored that Google averages 12 cents of revenue per query on google.com... if MSN makes even half of what Google does per query, we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue. This recurring revenue stream is more than enough to justify an investment in a browser.

    Other possible revenue streams for Microsoft IE include toolbar buttons and bookmarks, as well as the licensing of Internet Explorer to AOL and other companies to use as their default browser. Whether IE is profitable or not is still a mystery, but I definitely wouldn't say it has been a zero for Microsoft.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:44PM (#15199427) Homepage Journal
      Dvorak doesn't understand business. IE is a loss leader. You give out IE in order to get other stuff back. This is the kind of thing we live with all the time in marketing. Our department always "loses" money, but without our department, the business wouldn't have any customers... so are we a money sink? Dvorak, apparently, would say yes.
      • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:55PM (#15199555)
        IE is a loss leader. You give out IE in order to get other stuff back.

        Microsoft bundles IE with Windows to leverage Windows' monopoly to gain marketshare for IE. Once IE has high marketshare, then Microsoft can control indirectly the website developers. Have you ever noticed how many websites are written to accommodate the bugs in IE?

        • by diersing (679767) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:02PM (#15199619)
          "the bugs in IE?"

          Features, man, they're FEATURES!!

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:23PM (#15199801)
          But everything they get with this loss leader could be obtained just as easily by bundling someone else's browser and forcing the defaults. Other companies built search engines and ISP businesses without developing their own browser. I can be done. In fact, others are currently doing it better than MS.

          Dvorak is right: the expense of IE development could have been spent elsewhere, and MS would be none the worse off if they bundled somebody else's browser. Actually, Spyglass WAS somebody else's browser -- MS just got carried away with modifications. On the other hand, there is some Monday morning quarterbacking going on here. MS tried to "embrace and extend" the Internet. That approach works great when you have only incomplete standards and some room to maneuver. But nobody needed MS to "extend" HTTP.

          If MS knew how the world would evolve, they would never have bothered with IE. But nobody knew for sure at the time. The early browsers were resource-intensive by the standards of the day; they were designed for X-windows workstations. I can understand why MS would want to get something light enough to run on typical PC hardware. The early versions of Mosaic for Windows required Win32S and more memory than most people had. Netscape was better, but there was still plenty of room for improvement. Besides, just about every product MS ever created had to displace an entrenched competitor in order to survive. They must have thought IE would do the same -- even if they had to give it away.

          I run Windows XP Pro. Occasionally I get stuck running IE when I have to visit a retarded website that requires it. The default settings of MSN and the toolbar links lasted about 90 seconds after the first boot. I never signed up for any service because of anything IE did. MS additional profit by give me IE: $0.00. Yet their reputation for security and stability lives in infamy, thanks largely to IE and ActiveX plugins that let spyware and viruses play right through.
          • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:08PM (#15200258)
            But everything they get with this loss leader could be obtained just as easily by bundling someone else's browser

            Microsoft would not allow themselves to be dependent upon someone else for such a critical piece of their strategy.

            • If they forked Firefox and labeled it IE7 (or 8), who would they be dependent on? Their only obligation would be to release the source, which wouldn't hurt them as they give the software away for free anyway.
              • If they forked Firefox and labeled it IE7 (or 8), who would they be dependent on?

                Microsoft would need to maintain it themselves. So what would that really get them? The web is written for IE, it would be a major amount of work to "downgrade" FireFox to emulate IE's bugs.

                Additionally, a major downside is that it validates FireFox, a competitor.

            • True enough but I can't help feeling they have lost focus. They developed IE ot "take over the web" but that's failed. What are they developing IE for now? I think they developed IE7 simply to save face.

          • by ucblockhead (63650) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @06:49PM (#15201005) Homepage Journal
            Microsoft wasn't giving away IE free to get ad-revenue on their home page. Microsoft was giving IE away in hopes that they could translate a monopoly in the web browser market into a monopoly in the web server market. IE wasn't intended to make money off of end-users. It was intended to make money off of big corporations. In that sense, IIS sales should go on its profit-and-loss balance sheet.
          • by spectecjr (31235) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:23PM (#15201183) Homepage
            Dvorak is right: the expense of IE development could have been spent elsewhere, and MS would be none the worse off if they bundled somebody else's browser.

            Hmmm... tell that to Quicken or any number of other software apps which use IE for the UI solution. IE isn't just a browser - it's the HTML rendering component for the entire OS. And at the time it was first being developed, Netscape's HTML renderer wasn't componentized - which is yet another reason why they lost the browser wars and both AOL and Quicken went with IE instead of Netscape.

          • But nobody needed MS to "extend" HTTP.

            That didn't stop MS from trying [slashdot.org].



        • "People don't want bug fixes, they want new features."
          -William Henry Gates, III

          With that in mind and as to why they have Patch Tuesday when someone has stitched a sampler proclaiming "We are a monopoly!" hanging on the wall, perhaps it's what will happen to the stock [if they don't].
        • by twitter (104583) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:07PM (#15201100) Homepage Journal
          Microsoft bundles IE with Windows to leverage Windows' monopoly to gain marketshare for IE. Once IE has high marketshare, then Microsoft can control indirectly the website developers. Have you ever noticed how many websites are written to accommodate the bugs in IE?

          I'd like to see M$ own up to such a strategy because it's against the law. It may be true and they have been convicted of it, but they had better not admit to it.

          Dorvak's accusation forces M$ to admit anti-competitive practices or lose face on Wall Street. The second rate nature of both their browser and OS are now apparent. The only way to justify continued profits in the face of superior and less expensive competitors is to promise monopoly rents. Investors should be aware in either case. A company that screws it's customers is not much better to it's employees or investors.

        • by Eskarel (565631) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @08:25PM (#15201549)
          Microsoft bundles IE with Windows because you have to put some sort of web browser there and it's cheaper in the long run for them to make their own that to be reliant on a third party for such a vital component.

          In order for the general consumer to be able to make the choice between available free and non free web browsers, something has to be bundled with Windows to allow them to obtain whatever they choose.

          The fact that the average consumer will quite happily sit with IE because it's already there isn't Microsofts fault.

      • From the tagging:

        troll, dvorak (ie stupid idiot)

      • Dvorak doesn't understand business.
        Marketoïds do not understand the *REAL* universe, the one one that's governed by physical laws and logic.
        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @06:06PM (#15200702) Homepage Journal

          Dvorak doesn't understand business.

          Marketoïds do not understand the *REAL* universe, the one one that's governed by physical laws and logic.

          See, that's where you're an idiot. (I was going to just say wrong, but it doesn't express how I feel very well.) Marketing is all about logic. One of the key datums in marketing is that people make decisions based on emotion, not on logic. Oh sure, some people develop a logical system for evaluating purchases and then stick to it zealously, which allows them to make logical decisions, but most people vote for the better-looking candidate and buy the car that looks fast, regardless of actual suitability.

          Marketing exists in the really real world, not your slashdot fantasy world. Actually, it exists here too, if you don't have adblock or something. And it wouldn't exist here if it didn't work to some degree.

          Logic dictates that Microsoft is getting something out of maintaining IE.

          P.S. I work in a marketing department but I'm a longtime and very dedicated computer geek. Look at the number of /. posts I've made if you don't believe me :P

      • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:54PM (#15200137) Homepage Journal
        Dvorak doesn't understand business. IE is a loss leader. You give out IE in order to get other stuff back

        Also chances are the IE development team are completely separate to the Vista one, and have a different skill set. By developing IE, Microsoft has an HTML engine that suits their needs, without having to rely on some third-party. If you look around Windows XP, you will soon realise how much actually relies on that engine.

        The problems with Vista are probably bad management and trying to do too much in one go. If you look at one of the competitors, Apple, then you will see that they bring things out in managable increments. Sure it is $120 a year, but at least it is available and out there.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Further to this, it keeps people away from free products like Firefox. I would guess the browser is the number 1 most used piece of sofware on an avg. Joe's pc. If Joe found out he can download software for free, he's going to wonder why he pays for that electronic typewriter program (Word). So he may try OOo. And we all know that small FOSS consumption leads to worse and worse problems, like linux, and before we know it, Joe doesn't want microsoft any more as he is actively contributing to the codebase on
    • by adolfojp (730818) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:49PM (#15199491)
      MSN could be the default search engine of any browser that Microsoft decided to bundle.

      Opera uses Google as a default search engine because of a smart bussiness deal.

      MS could easily do the same.
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@g m a i l .com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:53PM (#15199526) Journal
      I don't know. I mean, if MS did bundle another browser, they could set that bundled browser to MSN.com, and reap all the same profits. It would almost have to be expected that they would. In which case, they're wasting money on IE.

      The biggest problem with IE is that it is linked to the OS, which is why security exploits in IE are the biggest headache for microsoft. Hell, I love Apache. I view it as pretty secure. But there is no way in hell I'd pick up an OS where Apache was an inextricable part of the kernel. The very idea is absurd...Apache touches the internet, therefore, it is a security problem. End of story. IE touches the internet, therefore it is a security problem. Firefox, Opera, it doesn't matter. Burglars couldn't get into your house if you had no doors or windows.

      I think Dvorak is 100% correct (first time for me)...If they used any other browser, they could lay half their security problems at it's feet. They could point the finger, and shake their heads, and talk about how secure their system is and how, if they built a browser, it would be completely secure and oh-so-functional. Instead they look awful, and their browser is a technological fossil.
      • IE7 has been removed from the explorer shell and actually functions like a normal application again. In otherwords it took 10 years to go back to the win 95 model.
      • by AlephZero (640601) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:12PM (#15199713)
        "Burglars couldn't get into your house if you had no doors or windows."

        Um, if your house doesn't have windows or doors the burglars can just walk in.
      • by R2.0 (532027) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:14PM (#15199727)
        "Burglars couldn't get into your house if you had no doors or windows"

        Technically, that's incorrect.

        Current exterior wall construction for a large portion of the housing market consists of (from the outside-in)vinyl siding, Tyvek vapor barrier, a fibrous type sheathing (sometimes no more than 1/8" thick cardboard), glass fiber insulation, and gypsum wallboard. All of these material are easily cut with a $1.99 utility knife.

        You can get into most houses these days with a knife and 5 minutes by going right through the wall.
        • by Ryan Amos (16972) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:27PM (#15199854)
          As with most things in life, a good gas powered chain saw will do the job in a tenth of the time, and it's a lot more fun.

          Just make sure there aren't any electrical conduit where you're making your hole. That might make it less fun.
          • "Just make sure there aren't any electrical conduit where you're making your hole. That might make it less fun."

            That is a bit self-centred of you - it would be great fun for all the people watching you.
        • by saider (177166) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:32PM (#15199902)
          You can get into most houses these days with a knife and 5 minutes by going right through the wall.

          5 minutes is 4 minutes and 50 seconds too long in a yard with a 120lb mastiff on the prowl.
      • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:25PM (#15199829)
        Well, here's another thing: Five years ago people said, "We can't migrate from Windows; all our stuff runs on Office, or some Windows-specific app." Now people say, "We can't migrate from Windows, all our web apps use Active-X controls and can only run on IE."

        Chris Mattern
      • by gujo-odori (473191) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @06:00PM (#15200667)
        I'm a Microsoft employee, so maybe I can shed a little bit of light on IE. I didn't work here when IE was developed, that was all way before my time, but from a cultural/business perspective, Microsoft is big on the idea of Ownership. You Own a project. You Own the code you write (or you Own your non-code deliverables, if you're not a programmer). If it's screwed up, you're the one person someone can come to and ask "How did this happen?" because you Own that item.

        Yes, Microsoft could have perfectly well bundled Netscape with Windows (or even bought Netscape with pocket change) back in the 1990s and probably have done so for far less than the cost of developing IE. I think buying Netscape (in which case Netscape's web servers could have become IIS) would be the only way it would have been considered. Why we didn't go that way is an interesting question. I have no idea what the answer is.

        You may have noticed that Microsoft isn't big on bundling others' software, and when they do, it's always fully branded and user-transparent. I think acquiring Netscape is the only way anyone would have considered bundling it as the official Windows browser. Who knows? Maybe we did approach Netscape about either a buyout or a branding deal and they told us to get stuffed? I've never heard anything like that, and it's not often that a company declines to be acquired by Microsoft, but I suppose it's not impossible.

        Now, combine that lack of enthusiasm for bundling third-party products with the culture of Owning what you work on, and you get why (in my opinion) Microsoft would not have bundled Netscape unless it owned the company lock, stock, and barrel: you could technically lay any security problems at Netscape's feet, but our corporate culture wouldn't want to. Plus, even if we did, our customers wouldn't buy that. They'd say "You shipped it, it's your problem. Don't tell me to email Netscape for support." Anybody's customers would say that. If you sold it to them, you'd better be able to support it, even if it's a third-party product.

        Finally, there's a lot of "not invented here" syndrome that runs around our company. It seems to me (I'm fairly new here, so if you've been around longer, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) if we don't have it, we're either going to buy someone who does have it or we're going to write it ourselves.

        IE has certainly had its problems over the years, and has of late been feature-poor compared to other browsers. Heck, until IE 7 betas started coming out, I even used other browsers unless someone was watching, and I still most often do because I'm very used to Firefox now. However, IE 7 is honestly a good browser. Beta 1 was usable, beta 2 is slick, and both are extremely fast, render well, and have a good, minimal interface. And finally, they support tabs! That was the huge missing feature. The first time I ever used a tabbed browser was the last time I could stand to not use one. It's just that much better. IE 7 is going to be very good. Far fewer windows users will find themselves with a reason to install Firefox instead of IE7. I expect Firefox will rise to the challenge and also become better and faster and it will benefit the industry as a whole, but there's no question about it: IE 7 is raising the bar.

        Overall, do I think IE was a mistake? No. It's true that I'm a n00b here, but as others have pointed out, IE was a good loss leader for our business that allows us to generate revenue in other areas, such as MSN. Was bundling it in the OS a mistake? Well, that's another issue . I hear there's a lot of decoupling of IE in Vista. You be the judge :)

        Notes: I don't work on either IE or Windows, so my opinions are reasonably objective, but they do tend to support our products over the competition, naturally enough.
    • by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:19PM (#15199761) Homepage
      Dvorak doesn't seem to realise that the IE development team and the Vista development team are different people. Yes, they work together on some things, but that's like saying GIMP is unnecessary, the developers' time could be better spent on Konqueror.
  • What's new? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Flimzy (657419) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:40PM (#15199380)
    When has Microsoft ever delevered a product "as promised"?
    • Re:What's new? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:46PM (#15199446) Homepage
      LOL!!

      C'mon, didn't you ever use the TRS-80 BASIC interpreter? Didn't everyone? It worked great, and was a MS product, IIRC. I think it was Micro-Soft basic 4.5 from what I remember. :) It worked exactly as promised.

      I never used the BASIC compiler for the PC, but I think it was supposed to be pretty cool. Again it worked as promised. Of course, it was cloned from an IBM product, but then what's new?

      Oh, wait - you already said that.

      Nevermind.

    • Re:What's new? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Foofoobar (318279)
      hOW IS THIS 'FLAMEBAIT'? He's 100% correct. Microsoft's motto is 'over promise, under deliver'. And this has always been true for every release they have ever had. Vista being no exception.
  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:41PM (#15199385) Homepage Journal
    As usual, Dvorak is on crack.

    I'm not sure what he means by biggest, but microsoft's stupidist blunder was Bob [guidebookgallery.org] and its most expensive blunder was the Cairo project [computerworld.com] (Cairo was later renamed and one of its most important element, OFS, is still nowhere in sight).

    Internet exporer was not so much of a blunder as an expensive way to kill off Netscape (they were a much bigger threat then Dvorak makes out.

    (the OT part) Still, at least Microsoft Bob was not a completely wasted effort - after all, you still have Rover the retriever [guidebookgallery.org] to help you with searching in XP - and we all know that was worth waiting 10 years for...
    • by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:54PM (#15199540) Homepage
      As usual, Dvorak is on crack. And he is not sharing which is a crime.

      IE is just a shell around libraries which do parsing of content and rendering. These are used throughout Windows including Outlook, parts of Office, the Windows Update infrastructure, etc. These have to be accounted for when making a loss/profit assessment. If it was not for IE, Outlook would have never reached its near universal penetration. Where Outlook and IE go, Office, Exchange, Departamental intranet servers on IIS with HTML written by people on crack follow. All of these depend on IE in one form or another. All of these are commercial products and cost a pretty penny.

      IE may be a loss, but it is a classic example of a well executed loss leader. If it was not for IE most of the remaining MSFT clutter would have had to be considerably better quality and less expensive to actually sell.

    • by jambarama (784670) <jambaramaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @10:44PM (#15202072) Homepage Journal
      From my blog: http://jambarama.blogspot.com/2006/03/how-microsof t-got-ie-to-be-de-facto.html [blogspot.com]

      Why did Microsoft care what browser people used?
      Operating systems can be replaced by higher level operating systems. BIOS stood for (used to, they changed it in the 90s) basic integrated operating system. BIOS was a full on (but limited) OS. Microsoft figured out how to use BIOS to boot DOS, a higher level OS. Later they figured out how to get DOS to boot Windows. Thus they knew operating systems could be replaced, they'd done it: BIOS > DOS > Windows (until they jettisoned DOS in 2000).

      They were afraid the internet was going to do this again. And Netscape would be basically an OS on top of Windows. The problem was this: if everyone develops for Netscape, not for Windows, then Windows wouldn't matter (just like who makes your BIOS doesn't matter now). Microsoft was terrified that Windows would get built over. Then they couldn't charge much for Windows (because it wouldn't be that important). So they did their darndest to kill Netscape and force IE on everyone else.

      Getting rid of the Apple Problem
      Macintosh threatened to throw a wrench in their plans. Even if Apple went out of business, someone would buy it up and still offer Macs. Because there was another viable platform, many early developers felt they should work for compatibility with both Mac and Windows. There was no IE for Macintosh and even if there had been, Microsoft needed a way to get Mac users to use it. If IE wasn't default for all major platforms, IE wouldn't be the standard, it would be a standard.*

      Luck was on Microsft's side. They had been killing Apple's revenue for sometime and Apple was willing to partner with anyone to survive. For Microsoft it was worth $150 million to make IE the de facto standard that it remains to this day. For Apple is was worth accepting IE to survive to try and fight again.

      So what about Netscape?
      Tying means using one product to sell another. Tying is like selling a copier and forcing (contractually or with technology) the consumer to get the copier serviced by you as well. This example is an actual case - Kodak did this. Tying is not bundling (for example selling Office rather than Excel or Powerpoint alone. Bundling is fine). Tying is per se illegal - if you are found to be tying, you are wrong, no debate - bundling is fine.

      I don't think there was any doubt in Microsoft's mind that bolting IE to the OS was "tying." The problem for Microsoft was that permanently bolting IE to Windows (and making it default) was the only way to unseat the current king of the internet, Netscape. It worked. And then they got slapped with an anti-trust suit for guess what... tying.

      During the trial a Princeton computer scientist got the Windows code via a court order and found that by removing two lines of code (from the source of Win98) you could get rid of IE. So Netscape presented this in court. Microsoft's rebuttal was a video, showing that by removing these two lines of code Windows crashed. When the prosecutors looked into this they found this was two different videos spliced together (thanks Ballmer). Guess what?

      They were found guilty. Judge Penfield Jackson was furious. He'd been annoyed by Bill Gates' irritated deposition. Gates had been ornery and not very helpful, but this put Jackson over the top. So Jackson wrote a scathing decision and Microsoft was supposed to be split into three companies. Because this decision was so harsh when the change of administration came, they refused to enforce it.

      So Microsoft won. They got IE to be the standard everyone uses when developing for the web and no penalties for it (if you don't think IE is the de facto standard, make your site incompatible with IE and, unless it is slashdot, don't expect to get much return traffic). Microsoft now has new pressure again - from alternate web browsers and from alternate operating systems. But there is a new savior on the horizon for them - trusted computing. If they succeed with the vendor lock-in trusted computing allows they'll never go out of business.
  • billions.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joe 155 (937621)
    ...what's it made of, gold? but more seriously, this could well be a worth while investment for MS, if you make people used to your software then they keep coming back... see it as a loss leader. Some people will say "I want to stay using windows because it has IE and thats what I like" (I know you'll think no one would say that but they really do). So maybe not such a bad investment.
  • the new IE7 Beta 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:42PM (#15199392)
    I just installed it a few minutes ago, and am using it now. Bleh. The interface is still pretty horrible. Is this supposed to be the final layout? UnBELIEVABLY bad! What are their UI people smoking? Or did they hire some Opera UI people?

    And the ClearType on by default is ridiculous. :(

    At least I didn't do any stupid IE hacks with the sites I've developed for work - so everything works fine, except now with ClearType on by default, all the text looks bold, so many of our text links simply look like regular text. Nice UI move there, MS. *grumpy*
    • by Werrismys (764601) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:47PM (#15199463)
      Text links should be underlined. That's the convention.
      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *
        Text links should be underlined. That's the convention.

        Non-bolded text should stay non-bolded in applications unless you specifically configure something that way. That's another convention.
      • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @06:14PM (#15200786) Homepage Journal
        Text links were underlined because content and presentation were not separate in the original HTML. Now, it is. There's no longer any reason for it to be so, especially since by using user style sheets, you can make them flash purple and blue and outline them with a dotted cyan line if you want to. Further, text was underlined for links because while emphasis for the sake of emphasis is disposable, designation of links is not, and underlines are available in more places than italics or bold. Pretty much every glass terminal has underlines, but not all of them have both bold and italic - plenty of them have one or the other but not both. Text isn't shown in two sizes in lynx for the same reason - xterms and vt100 can handle that kind of thing, but how many other terminals do that?
        • by localman (111171)
          But there's the fact that despite all the configurable style sheet stuff, underlined links are still the convention. It's not a technical limitation, it's stored in the minds of millions of users. There nothing on the web as instantly clickable as underlined text. You can get all stylish and ignore that, but since most websites make their bread and butter off of functionality and not aesthetics, you're usually better off checking the wanna-be graphic artist tendancies and building an app that behaves as
    • by jgalun (8930) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:50PM (#15199502) Homepage
      If I had mod points I'd mod you up - the Internet Explorer 7 interface is atrociously bad. I am not a Microsoft basher (I don't love them, but I find it hard to work up a good hate for them too), but this design will confuse the hell out of people. What's with eliminating the standard menus that every other Windows program uses? This will just confuse the hell out of users, without any countervailing benefit!

      The interface for IE 7 was not thought through at all.
      • by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:59PM (#15200185)
        What's with eliminating the standard menus that every other Windows program uses?

        You can enable them!. Look here! [lmame-bug.com]. The menu is placed between the address bar and the tab bar. The tab and the address bar are both related with the page you're viewing, the menu is not. It's probably the worst place to put such menu: you want to keep such elements in the same place. But hey, this is microsoft - some reviewer will argue that it has sense.

        The UI of IE7 was designed very carefully. They just don't know to do it right. Look at the the latest paul thurrot's vista review:

        http://www.winsupersite.com/images/reviews/vista_5 342_rev5_02.jpg [winsupersite.com]
        http://www.winsupersite.com/images/reviews/vista_5 342_rev5_08.jpg [winsupersite.com]
        (Try to guess which is the active window)

        http://www.winsupersite.com/images/reviews/vista_5 342_rev5_01.jpg [winsupersite.com]
        ("File operations"! great!)

        I've enought problems to make people understand XP (why the extension->program associations are placed under "carpet options"???? Why i need to look at the taskwork's properties to delete the list of recently opened files in the start menu??? Why some visual effects are on the "my pc->properties" window, others in the display's properties and some duplicated in both?? Oh, and wait: in IE7 beta 2 you configure cd-auto-startup in IE's advanced properties). I can't wait for vista, it looks like they'd be trying to be better than mac os x but they keep falling in the second-system syndrome. It's so bad when it comes to usability that is laughable - most of the people knows windows just because they're taugh the basic operations in the school.

        Look at how many XP/office training courses are in your city. It's so fucking bad that people can make money with it.
      • by elsilver (85140) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @05:53PM (#15200604) Homepage
        What's with eliminating the standard menus that every other Windows program uses?

        Oh, they're eliminating those too.

        Have you seen Windows Messenger Live Beta? Or Windows Media Player 10? They are moving towards having the three or four most important actions in the tool bar (like "Change the color scheme of this window" or "Get your own space on Spaces"), and everything else is accessed from a "menu" button hidden up there with minimize, and close.

        Personally, I'm mixed on this idea: I hate having to try to find the menu, and wonder where in there they have hidden what I want to do. On the other hand, I've noticed that the stripped down versions of IE, Word, etc. on my PDA have only a small number of menu items, and it's really nice not having all that extra crap.

        Reading over what I just wrote, I had a thought: maybe I hate the new candy look and hiding the standard menus. I also hate product bloat. There, that's better, when I put it that way, MS can't do anything right.

        E.

        • Retraining Costs? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by twitter (104583)
          What's with eliminating the standard menus that every other Windows program uses? - Oh, they're eliminating those too.

          So much for the bogus issue of retraining costs keeping people from using free software. People waiting for Vista should just put GNU/Linux on their current hardware.

  • Don't Reply (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:42PM (#15199393) Homepage Journal

    DO NOT REPLY TO THIS STORY. Dvorak is not that stupid. He's just tweaking the tech community to see if he can get a response. To date, the tech community has been as predictable as Marty McFly.

    If you really want to understand Dvorak, pick apart the post I made [slashdot.org] on his last big story. I think you'll understand him a lot better if you can take a clinical look at his sudden and inexplicable leaps of logic. It's what he does, and he's damn good at it.

    I know its hard to resist the Dvorak trolling, but you need to consider one thing: He's not listening to you. He doesn't even care about your opinion. His crazy theories are keeping the money flowing, and that's good enough. Arguing with his drivel is simply wasting your time.
    • He's not listening to you. He doesn't even care about your opinion.

      He does have a feeling you're starting to tune him out though. FTA:

      The joke of it is that Microsoft is still working on this dead albatross and is apparently ready to roll out a new version, since most of the smart money has been fleeing to Firefox or Opera. This means new rounds of patches and lost money. Continue reading...

      [emphasis added]

      Please, for the love of God, continue reading or else I'll have to get a real job instead of being

    • Almost every media outlet has someone whose job it is to write inflammatory rhetoric (at the local level, usually jeers directed at the local local sports teams) in order to sell papers. For example, it's what journalist-cum-troller Andrew Orlwoski [wikipedia.org] does at the register. Dvorak is doing more of the same here.
    • I know its hard to resist the Dvorak trolling, but you need to consider one thing: He's not listening to you. He doesn't even care about your opinion. His crazy theories are keeping the money flowing, and that's good enough. Arguing with his drivel is simply wasting your time.

      Opinions that differ from yours aren't "Trolling". As for his crazy theories, if they are that crazy just ignore him.
    • by fm6 (162816) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:51PM (#15199518) Homepage Journal
      Dvorak has been the classical asshole industry columnist for a long time — and he is that stupid. This isn't even the stupidest thing he's said. I first realized how stupid he was back in 1983, when he made some silly pronouncements about the secret plans of a company I was working for. It was painfully obvious that he hadn't the slightest understanding of the technology we sold. Why he continues to get published is one of the great mysteries of our time.
  • If they hadn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JavaLord (680960) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:42PM (#15199395) Journal
    John Dvorak declaring IE the biggest mistake Microsoft has ever made. From the article: 'All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first advertised [...] If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column--billions.'"

    Yes, but we don't know what would have happened had they left netscape to dominate the market. Netscape might have taken over the world by now and enslaved us all!

    Thank god for IE.
  • Is it just me of is posting any article about Dvork and calling him an expert trolling?

    Or I should say flamebait? Good god.
  • by alienmole (15522) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:42PM (#15199398)
    Dvorak might have a point here, but for one thing: as long as people see IE as the default web browser, the idea that Windows is the only choice in operating systems is reinforced. Take the browser out of Microsoft's hands, and a lot of questions about how much we really need this Windows thing are raised. Those questions exist anyway, but the dominance of IE makes people less likely to ask them.
  • Who will the /. faithful back? The uber-troll Dvorak, or the uber-monopolist, Microsoft?
  • The Microsoft attitude to "do it all" and never retreat is how I view their attitude in attempting to be all for all PC users.

    That leads to a tunnel vision in a bizarre way that doesn't allow rational business analysis to proceed and get carried out in practice.

    It also leads them to litigation (read Bill's father's advice), when settlement would often be the wisest choice
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:43PM (#15199417)
    Maybe sd should stop parrotting every dang fool thing Dvorak writes or says?

    I suspect the coding effort in IE is about 3% of that invested in XP and Vista. Where does he get the $billions cost from? A web browser is a biggish program, but many lone hackers have written one in under one person/year.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:44PM (#15199430) Homepage
    IE is a huge success:

    The Web was threatening to become a client independent client platform.

    Netscape looked like it would make a ton of money.

    Microsoft had no significant web presence as a portal.

    Now?

    MSN is a huge portal.

    Netscape is dead

    And the web is a significant client-independant-client, as long as that client is Internet Explorer, which only runs on Windows...

    IE preseved Microsoft's monopoly, killed a huge potential competitor, and has made microsoft a signiciant player in the Portal business.

    Hardly a failure.
  • Dvorak couldn't be more incorrect. The dominance of Internet Explorer has guaranteed that every user must have at least one Windows machine in order to access some critical services, such as online banking and even confidential health communication systems. Without Internet Explorer and its proprietary extensions, Microsoft would be more threatened by other platforms, as there would no longer be such a critical justification for using their operating system.

    Internet Explorer, despite having a poor reputatio
  • This just in ... Dvorak just took a massive dump. Reporters from various news outlets are gathering to cover the news, with at least two subsequent /. stories on the event expected.

    Seriously, of course MS never expected to make money on a product they give away for free ... it's like the XBox, a "loss leader" to help consolidate their monopoly.
  • ...Dvorak is an idiot. He does not rate a headline at Slashdot. I mean, Jeez, what's his definition of "blunder"? Something that creates huge lockin for Windows? Every time I cry about lack of standards support in web browsers, somebody says, "IE is the standard". And I hate to admit it, but they're right. There are zillions of Intranet applications that you need IE to use, and that means that there are zillions of companies that can't consider running anything but Windows on the desktop. Not the biggest re
  • IE isn't the biggest blunder. Actually, it was fairly shrewd (from a MS point of view) since they were originally selling it, then released it for free to compete with (and eventually pretty much sink) Netscape. IE removed a competitor from their market - so a strict profit and loss analysis doesn't really sum it up, IMHO. It's their standard strategy. Look at MS Virtual PC versus VMware for current data if you're interested.

    So no, IE is not the biggest mistake MS has ever made. Making it part of the

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:48PM (#15199476) Homepage
    I don't understand why Microsoft doesn't just rewrite Internet Explorer in .NET. They can leave the existing rendering engine behind as a legacy component and work on a new IE that can take advantage of .NET's security mechanisms. Not only would it be a good excuse for a clean break, but it would also give them a chance to show off what .NET can do for desktop apps.
  • As people keep forgetting, IE is a reusable component and because it's so easy to integrate to allow other applications easy browing, HTML editing support, and related technologies it's helped not only Microsoft's applications (using either MSHTML or the WebBrowser control) but countless numbers of developers.

    While it probably has been expensive to maintain, I'm sure it adds a lot of value to all the applications that use either mshtml.dll (rendering) or shdocvw.dll (WebBrowser control, which uses MSHTML

  • by WndrBr3d (219963) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @03:48PM (#15199481) Homepage Journal
    I think credit should be given to IE and Microsoft for inspiring the next generation of browsers. I mean, if it weren't for Internet Explorer setting the bar in browser features and functionality, we wouldn't have such a great open source push for a great new browser platform such as Firefox or Opera.

    Imagine if Microsoft's only competition was Netscape :-(
  • M$ has a lot of competition in that category.

  • What is he on? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gentlemen_loser (817960) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:01PM (#15199609) Homepage
    From the parent:
    All the work that has to go into keeping the browser afloat is time that could have been better spent on making Vista work as first advertised [...] If you were to put together a comprehensive profit-and-loss statement for IE, there would be a zero in the profits column and billions in the losses column--billions.'"

    In all honestly, its a headline I would love to read. I absolutely can not stand the crap software or the tactics put out by that company. However, I will not dignifiy Dvorak with the ad revenue of clicking to his article and will instead take apart his weak qoute from the Slashdot story...

    Dvorak, quite simily, is an idiot or is on something. I'll go with the former. First off, on any given development project, there is a finite number of developers that you can through at it before productivity begins to go down. As such, it makes sense for a company like Microsoft with BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of dollars laying around to create other teams to do other things. The utter failure of Vista has nothing at all to do with IE and all its associated problems.

    Ok, so now that we've dealt with how the two could not possibly be linked lets look at the reason d'etre for IE. IE has probably not DIRECTLY generated any revenue for Microsoft, however indirectly its been a cash cow. Had MS not used illegal predatory practices and bundled IE with Windows and given it away for free, MS would have steadily lost a foothold in the OS market by giving Netscape the browser edge. Even more servers would be UNIX based Apache (or Netscape) web servers and MS and its operating system would have been completely commoditized faster than its already happening. Every major web page that "works best with IE #.##" means another desktop that is not running Linux or OS X or whatever other great alternative we would have found. Its absolutely assinine to question why MS "keeps their browser afloat".

    Well, there goes 15 minutes of my life, rebuffing Dvorak, when I could have been doing something more productive like watching dust settle on my finger nails. Stupid me.
  • He he ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:03PM (#15199628) Homepage
    I see Slashdot's tagging system has become sort of a working dictionary in cases. The current tags say:
    [+] dvorak, ie, troll, stupid, idiot

    Why, yes, he's all of those things!!

    Amazing this new fangled technology -- how does it know?
  • Mythical Man Month (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pkulak (815640) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:05PM (#15199649)
    Because we all know that the only problem with Vista was that there wasn't enough people working on it...
  • by mslinux (570958) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:06PM (#15199654)
    [+] troll, stupid, dvorak, ie, idiot (tagging beta)
  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wheatwilliams (605974) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @04:22PM (#15199796) Homepage
    This is the first sensible statement, and the first intelligent article that I have read from John Dvorak in the last twenty years.
  • by sinewalker (686056) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @07:59PM (#15201393) Homepage
    Great, I've found a new project to work on while on my train-trips home: alter the Slashdotter firefox plugin so that it filters out any post containing the regex "[jJ]onh [dD]vorak". Also any post made by Zonk.

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