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Interview with Microsoft Exec on IE7 and RSS 188

AvianFlugelhorn writes "BetaNews has posted an interview with Gary Schare, Director of IE Product Management, which touches on the changes coming in IE7, Firefox's growth, and how Microsoft will bring RSS to the mainstream. It's interesting to see Schare become more humble since a November 2004 interview, when he questioned whether Firefox could attract more than just early adopters. Now, Microsoft says: 'we respect the work that the Firefox guys have done.' Schare also admits problems with ActiveX and explains why Microsoft will revolutionize RSS." Couple of days old, but still interesting.
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Interview with Microsoft Exec on IE7 and RSS

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:19PM (#14770591) Journal
    It's interesting to see Schare become more humble since a November 2004 interview, when he questioned whether Firefox could attract more than just early adopters.
    So this came up today at work. And I thought I'd clear up some things for people who are confused as to what the phrase 'early adopters' means.

    'Early adopters' are what marketers call the first people to use your product. Now, let's say that there's some tiny percentage of people who initially use Firefox just because they had something to do with it or they need to run a web app that works best in Firefox. This 5% of the population is known as the 'early adopters' as it doesn't really matter what your product is; they're going to use it regardless.

    Now, imagine a normal curve of the population of users. The early adopters are the ones on the far left who use it right away and the ones on the right are the crusty old-there's-nothing-better-than-IE-change-is-bad people who will refuse until the bitter end. If you make it past the early adopters and into the 35%-45% of the population range on the curve, then suddenly this product can stand on its own. To hell with the competition, it can now fend for itself in the market with that kind of user base backing it.

    What he meant in that quote was that it had yet to be seen if Firefox would even make it past the initial 5% that would use it regardless and into a phenomenon that could potentially be a competitor with Internet Explorer.

    In most of the applications a programmer undertakes, she or he must strive to encompass more than just early adopters if it is hoped for the product to last. This usually involves clever marketing gimmicks or commercials but, thank the lord, in Firefox's case it's just been sheer security and ingenuity of the product helping it over this curve.

    Not only do I think it's well on its way past the early adopter phase, but I myself have moved to be an early adopter for most open source solutions I can find out there.
    • Looking SharePoint Server I see zero integration with RSS. Neither by creating feeds or allowing SharePoint to consume feeds. This makes SharePoint in my organization worthless. I know SharePoint wasn't a talking point but I see SharePoint becoming the new FrontPage in the Office 12 lineup.
    • Firefox has had some clever marketing... SpreadFirefox comes to mind, and the NYT ad was clever in both the way it was paid for (donations) and its design (the names of the donators).
    • imagine a normal curve of the population of users. The early adopters are the ones on the far left who use it right away and the ones on the right are the . . . change-is-bad people who will refuse until the bitter end.

      It's somewhat easier to see if you use the adoption S-curve [wikipedia.org]. Note how slow the adoption rate is at the beginning and near the end of the curve.
  • Respect? (Score:3, Funny)

    by EraserMouseMan ( 847479 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#14770614)
    So will Firefox users have any respect for IE7 as a capable browser (if it proves to be so)?
    • Re:Respect? (Score:5, Funny)

      by NoMoreNicksLeft ( 516230 ) <john@oyler.comcast@net> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:25PM (#14770629) Journal
      Will people wave hello to the flying pigs as they fly south for the winter?
    • Personally, I don't respect computer programs. As a firefox user, I would consider switching to IE7 if it was easier to use or had better features than firefox.
      • So would I.

        Ah wait, Bill called and apparently no packages will be made available for Gentoo.

        Oh well...
    • I'm not expecting IE7 to be very capable since Microsoft stated repeatedly that they are not going to make it standards-compliant.
    • Now, that depends - are these users of the "I judge programs by their worth, not by their maker." variety, or are they the "I will never use a product made by Micro$loth!" variety?

    • I've noticed a pattern among people here sometimes, which is that they are too quick to praise MS if they do something right. The way I look at it is, we have Firefox, it's open source, it works on something like 95% of all webpages with no problem. Just the concept of having an extendable, open source browser is powerful enough to continue using Firefox even if it lacks a few IE7 features, because it will continue to adapt and will probably have all the features in 2 months anyway.
    • Re:Respect? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by killjoe ( 766577 )
      Why does a corporation need or want our respect? Isn't it enough for MS to be a monopoly? Isn't it enough for Bill Gates to wipe his ass with 100 dollar bills? Why does he care about my respect?

      Having said that the answer is no. I am too reliant on adblock, flashblock, live bookmarks, IMDB search, wikipedia search and a dozen other reasons to ever give up firefox. They will have to pry it away from my cold dead fingers.

      Lets face it IE is designed to deliver advertising to windows users, and to encourage web
    • by Z34107 ( 925136 )

      So will Firefox users have any respect for IE7 as a capable browser (if it proves to be so)?

      First of all, the fact that this is modded "funny" makes me want to cry. >.

      Personally, I liked Firefox better than IE6, but like IE7 better than Firefox. Works well, looks purdy, hasn't crashed once. The "Phishing Filer"'s pretty neat, too.

    • I'm a web dev. I spent half of yesterday correcting template errors that were down to IE6 misunderstanding entirely valid, correct CSS that other browsers and validators were quite happy with. Having to put in spurious DIVs, extra table cells and periodically spurious content to make it render what it was told to and the spec said i was supposed to.

      If they can remove these silly gotchas that probably took up half the build time, I'll be a happy man.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I didn't realize Slashdot posted things so recent...
  • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:31PM (#14770673)
    "Schare also admits problems with ActiveX"

    From my point of view, the whole ActiveX thing in IE should be taken out. In today's world, ActiveX does have a couple of niche uses, but the Internet by far has left it behind as a old technology. Technologies/Techniques like Flash, Javascript, AJAX, PHP, browser extensions and the rest can do a lot of what ActiveX could do, and much more securely. ActiveX in my view is a weak link that is asking for viruses.

    • Not to troll, but what please tell me what PHP can do on the client-side? While the rest of your cited examples are right on, PHP is NOT a client-side technology and does nothing from the perspective of interacting with the web browser. Java Applets are a far more correct example.

      • I ment to say that such technologies like PHP on the server side have taken out the need for ActiveX in formatting webpages. Even though ActiveX is client-side, it could change the way a website looked.
        • Well, part of that is true - but ActiveX is really, far far more akin to Java Applets, AJAX, and Flash than it is to anything on the server side. PHP cannot do ANYTHING on the client beyond the boundaries that HTTP as a protocol permits. The very problem with ActiveX is that it can do things within the client that transpose the boundaries between the content being delivered by the server and the sanctity of the client. From the server, I could at one point with ActiveX write downloadable applications tha
    • "Schare also admits problems with ActiveX"

      Heh, that reminds me of a typical parody-movie scene a-la Airplane..

      "Well yes, the house has a tiny little problem with pests..."
      (stampede of rats runs on the background)
      "And a little problem with the electrical installation..."
      (Suddenly an electric cable in the wall catches fire)
      "But overall, the house is fine"
      (the roof falls down)
    • Not at all familiar with corporate intranets, are you? There are thousands of activex controls for sale to corporations who use them on their intranets. IE isn't only about the public web running mostly apache and PHP. It's about corporate intranets who mostly run IIS and ASP. They use these components extensively.
      • The company I worked for had an activex page for their testing lab that would let you reimage the machine.

        Yes, you heard that. You completely swapped out your version of Windows FROM A WEB PAGE, with default IE settings on some versions of windows. And this was a capability that was supposed to be there, with the correct security settings.

        Even since I saw that there's no one who can convince me that ActiveX is a good idea from a security standpoint. Even if that is turned off by default (as it is on newer w
    • ActiveX served its purpose well. It was never really intended for use on the Internet, but instead was aimed at company intranets as a way of enticing client-server programmers to avoid using HTML based applications that do not require expensive Windows licenses. Even today, many popular intranet applications still run as ActiveX controls even though they could easily be implemented as pure HTML.
      However, ActiveX is on its way out, now that Microsoft has Avalon waiting in the wings to replace it as a Windows
    • "Technologies/Techniques like Flash, Javascript, AJAX, PHP, browser extensions and the rest can do a lot of what ActiveX could do"

      First off, the Flash plug-in is an ActiveX control in and of itself, as are the plugins for Quicktime, Real Player (may it die a quick death), Acrobat, and a whole host of other multimedia plugins, and all are things that cannot be replaced by AJAX, PHP, etc.

      And while I agree the original implementation of ActiveX was poor, the idea is good (and similar ideas are used in other br
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Flash is an ActiveX
    • Technologies/Techniques like Flash, Javascript, AJAX, PHP, browser extensions and the rest can do a lot of what ActiveX could do, and much more securely.

      Isn't Flash implemented as an ActiveX control? How are you going to get past that hurdle without some sort of similar extension mechanism? Browser extensions are needed, just the way they are implemented needs to be carefully looked over. Whitelists and signed extensions are always a good thing.

    • AFAIK, the Flash plug-in is ActiveX.

      Secondly, what do you propose to replace common ActiveX tools that require OS interaction (like Windows Update or TrendMicro's online virus scanner)?

      • Secondly, what do you propose to replace common ActiveX tools that require OS interaction (like Windows Update or TrendMicro's online virus scanner)?

        How about downloading an application and executing it yourself? Why does it have to be on a web page? If I'm not mistaken, Microsoft has already said Windows Update in Vista won't be web-based.
      • What confuses me is why the netscape plugin API didn't (IIRC) have all the problems of ActiveX? I mean, I can run flash in Opera just fine, it certainly isn't ActiveX.

        Plus, there's always java applets for OS interaction, which work across all the browsers on windows, and can also (depending on your goal of course) work on other OSs. Not to say it's more secure per se, they both at this point pop up a dialog to grant more permissions, but it certainly would standardize things more in not needing 2 versions o
    • "[B]rowser extensions [...] can do a lot of what ActiveX could do"

      ActiveX is "browser extensions."

    • A good solution to the problems of ActiveX is to implement a whitelist of domains that are "ok" for ActiveX download and usage and then block everything else.

      For example a sysadmin could add *.mycompany.com and *.microsoft.com to the list but block all else.

      This will solve the problem for corporate intranets that need IE and ActiveX controls for corporate crap whilst still keeping the network safe from external ActiveX controls. And, if the corporation doesnt need ActiveX for anything, they can just disable
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:33PM (#14770689)
    "Quite often when you see an IE patch coming out, it's not actually a patch to IE code. It's a patch to kill the ActiveX control that's no longer needed, which we've determined has a vulnerability in it. ActiveX Opt-in is designed to reduce that surface area of attack by turning off most of those controls by default and letting users only turn them on if they need them. The feature makes it not interesting for the hackers to go after this legacy code that shouldn't be exposed to the Internet in the first place."

    So we've enhanced the functionality of IE by ramping up the number of programmers on the project, which is a normal function of software development at Microsoft but I can't give you specifics, to add new features to IE7... new features like... ActiveX Opt-In (tm), with ActiveX Opt-In, we've enhanced the rich browsing experience the users are used to by increasing the security model of the IE7 browser functionality through better security measures.

    And these security measures are?

    We turned the problematic ActiveX controls off.

    But wait how this is new functionali...

    Top. Men.
    • Hey, what happened? You don't look very happy.
      Fools. Bureaucratic fools.
      What'd they say?
      They don't know what they've got there.
      Well, I know what I've got here. Come on. I'll buy you a drink. You know, a drink?
    • Top. Men.
      Raiders of the Lost Ark quotes give any post some extra zing. Still, I wish IE was actually locked into a US military warehouse where everyone is safe from opening it and having their face melt (as has been know to happen from time to time).
    • BN: When BetaNews last spoke to you in November 2004, you said another standalone release of IE was not necessary because of the community of add-ons available (like those for tabbed browsing). Now, IE7 is building in a lot of new native functionality within the browser. Why the change?

      I found this question either naive or absurd. I'm not sure which.

      This is Microsoft's MO. They've been doing this for years. A prime example was in the early to mid 80s when some MS VP told Information Week (I think that's
  • Security... (Score:2, Insightful)

    "The primary driver behind expanding the reach of IE7 to Windows XP was security," and again, "The additional functionality is only one half of the equation; the other half is security."

    Hmm... I wonder where they got the idea that IE wasn't secure enough? *cough*Firefox*cough*

    I guess competition is good, since now people know what they are missing. Finally someone is, in a small way, asking Microsoft to step up the quality of their products.

  • Woo hoo (Score:5, Funny)

    by secondsun ( 195377 ) <secondsun@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:42PM (#14770778) Journal
    MS Guy: We added tabbed browsing and upped our CSS support to what was published in 2000.

    Every web dev on earth: Good for you, now how about DOM2?

    MS Guy: But... but... tabbed browsing!

    • Re:Woo hoo (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:05PM (#14771042)

      MS Guy: We added tabbed browsing and upped our CSS support to what was published in 2000.

      There'd be hell to pay if the MS guy actually claimed that - they are still missing whole sections of CSS 2, published in May 1998 [w3.org]. Granted, Internet Explorer 7.0 has improved support, but it's still missing, e.g. generated content [w3.org] and tables [w3.org].

      You'll be pleased to know, however, that Internet Explorer 7.0 finally has complete support for CSS 1 [w3.org], published in 1996. So let's all welcome Microsoft to ten years ago!

  • Because if any one of the questions had been by any person ever asked to design a site it would have included something like the following:

    Hi fucktard, are you bunch of fucktards ever going to fucking support the goddman fucking standard like bloody PNG and position: fixed and other basic stuff?

    Who cares about security, if windows users did they wouldn't use windows. Who cares about hot new features. If people wanted cutting edge they wouldn't use windows. Sadly all those windows users do want websites th

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think the AJAX complaint is unfair. It was, afterall, MS that made the object in the first place.
    • I'll add that I hate IE as a web developer.
      I use PNG transparencies and I have the javascript code that fixes it for IE. If an IE user has JS turned off, too bad.

      My CSS has a few '!important' declarations with /* This is because IE is garbage */ right next to it.
      • I use PNG transparencies and I have the javascript code that fixes it for IE.

        We just use Macromedia Flash MX. Solves ALL browser problems instantly. HTML/Javascript/CSS is awful for anything even remotely more advanced than paragraphs of text. Like, for example PNG files. Browser incompatibilities are a phenomenal waste of time.
        • So you're one of those web developers who has helped make that dim vision of a web where every website is just a container for a massive Flash mess a reality. Please, stop doing this. I don't have Flash. I never will. I want to look at your website, but I guess I nevel will do that, either.
          • So you're one of those web developers who has helped make that dim vision of a web where every website is just a container for a massive Flash mess a reality. Please, stop doing this. I don't have Flash. I never will. I want to look at your website, but I guess I nevel will do that, either.

            We used to develop sites in a text editor. CSS, Javascript, HTML, DHTML, XML. We even had our own markup languages. The sites we produced were functional, but looked awful.

            Macromedia Flash is what HTML/CSS wanted to be
    • The parent has been modded as flamebait. However, more than one web developer may consider IE itself to be flamebait. Just look at the CSS-discuss [css-discuss.org] mailing list and count all the efforts made to work around the refusal of Microsoft to support CSS standards that almost every other web browser supports so much better.

      The parent may be overly passionate, but, well, there could be some real motivation for the passion.

      • The parent may be overly passionate, but, well, there could be some real motivation for the passion.

        The parent is modded flamebait because it's an ignorant flame. Those questions weren't asked in the interview because they've already been answered, both as commentary on the Internet Explorer weblog, and as a working beta that fixes the problems he is complaining about. Everybody who is remotely in touch with the web development industry is already well aware of the limitations of current versions of

    • by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:28PM (#14771253)

      Because if any one of the questions had been by any person ever asked to design a site it would have included something like the following:

      Well no, seeing as they've already fixed everything you mention: PNG [msdn.com], position: fixed [msdn.com], native XMLHttpRequest [msdn.com]. Have you tried the latest beta?

      Oh and line 1 and 3 are only there to keep IE happy. 2nd line would be all that is needed if you coded only for real browsers.

      Nonsense. Those lines are there to not break for any browsers that don't support native XMLHttpRequest objects. That includes quite a few versions of quite a few browsers.

      No doubt IE7 will cause this simple code to expand yet more.

      Internet Explorer 7 includes a native XMLHttpRequest object so it acts exactly like all the other browsers and you don't need the extra code that Internet Explorer 6 and below does.

    • Seeming as XMLHttpRequest is a nonestandard control first provided by Microsoft in IE and then 'tucked' into somewhere vaguely appropriate by other browser vendors when it became obvious it would be a useful control, you really dont have a leg to stand on in that regard.
    • It is very simple, very basic support for simple standards that IE just isn't capable of it. I can only think of the following reasons, ... B, they want to hold the web back so they can launch their own new version.

      I've always wondered what level manager in a software company's hierarchy decides to make "competitive" products that break the standard. And how far down the chain of command is this stragegy known?

      For example, Microsoft's Java virtual machine was developed specifically to break cross-platform
    • Personally don't like all the try/catching in that example code and think this is a heck of a lot cleaner. This is not cut-and-paste code to create an XHR, but rather just a snippet of code from Echo2 (which absolutely requires an AJAX capable browser of one form or another). Works in FF, Moz, Safari, IE6+, KHTML, Opera, etc. YMMV.

      var usingActiveXObject = false;
      if (window.XMLHttpRequest) {
      this.xmlHttpRequest = new XMLHttpRequest();
      } else if (window.ActiveXObject) {
      usingActi

    • For my own personal sites I have long since stopped adding IE support. Get a real browser or fuck off. Sadly that is not acceptable in business sites. Not even the customer service section.

      I do a very small amount of Web development these days. The content is strictly for security professionals and network engineers who have shelled out tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to my employer. After spending a lot of time trying to make work arounds for IE we finally asked our customers if an

  • BN: The browser landscape has changed a lot in the past two years. Security threats, RSS and AJAX, for example. Where does Microsoft see the market headed and is IE7 a pioneer in this area or a follower? On the outside, it seems like many of the new IE7 features have long been offered in alternate browsers. Is Microsoft playing catch up or are you breaking new ground?

    GS: I think you can make a fair case that we're doing a little of both. There were clearly some areas that the early adopters had been usi

  • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @03:59PM (#14770970)
    "In the early days, we admit, we focused more on the power and stability than on the security."

    Might wanna focus a little harder, man. =O
  • We'll have similar dates for a more public beta of Windows Vista

    Does this mean we might be able download and run a Vista beta legally? You can normally find the betas on p2p or bit torrent, but it'd be interesting if they actually released it with an expiration date for public download. While I'm sure it wouldn't be stable, it might be cool to mess around with under dual boot or on an extra machine.
    • Does this mean we might be able download and run a Vista beta legally?

      Depends on who "we" are. By making it "more public", Microsoft is probably referring to extending the beta to a handful of people who don't have the Microsoft Developer Network subscription required to get the legal beta. Odds are, they'll never have an open beta of Vista, but one just like they said - "more public."

  • I know that here at Slashdot I'm not the only one that whenever I download a Microsoft "security upgrade," the first thing I do is turn off all the crap that Microsoft puts in as "security."

    Putting in things that pop up on your screen asking you if you really want to do this, or if you noticed that it did something, or that you haven't turned on something or you haven't updated something is not my definition of security.

    My definition of security is to fix the problem, not put up caution tape and flashing li
    • My definition of security is to fix the problem, not put up caution tape and flashing lights around the problem.

      Of course it is. So is everybody's. The problem isn't necessarily that Windows isn't secure; the problem is that the average-Joe enduser that makes up the bulk of Microsoft's customer base rarely take the time to actually download the security fixes. The pop-ups warning that your version of Windows is out of date and your anti-virus hasn't been used since dates were stored as one-byte offse

  • by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:16PM (#14771136) Homepage Journal
    When telling friends about Firefox, and why to use it, I've always mentioned the tabbed browsing first, and then noted that it's more secure than IE. Sure, there's a ton of other stuff that FF "does", but those were the two things, the selling points if you will, that I wanted to show them. "Tabbed browsing, man! You'll never surf the same way again!"

    But after trying IE7, I've realized there's so much more to the experience. Tabs are a given, but FF seems to do them so much better. It's faster, snappier, cleaner. I come to accept the security as a given. Even in IE7, I wouldn't go to half the sites I do in FF. IE still doesn't seem to handle popups as well as FF, I've come to rely on the the Adblock extension which makes the browsing experience so much better. Pages load faster in FF. Little things like Find-As-You-Type (why in the hell does IE still have the ctrl-F dialog box that pops up, and doesn't wrap around the page? Up or Down??). I think I'm realizing that the EXTENSIONS in FF are what makes it great. Just the handful of ones I have installed make my browsing experience that much better, and I take for granted what I can do, and I don't notice this until trying to do the same in IE7. Why can't I rearrange tabs in IE? Ctrl-tab doesn't cycle how I would like it, but what can I do? In FF, I just find an extension. Plus, IE7 is ugly. I can change the theme in FF.

    I think the only thing IE7 is really going to do is get an installed base of "secure" IE out there - all the Joe Schmoes that don't care, power up their Dell nekkid to the cable modem, and check their email. Maybe this will help curb some of the stupid things that have resulted from the old IE versions. But in no way is IE7 even remotely close to the browser that Firefox is.
  • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @04:27PM (#14771236)

    I've only seen two types of sites that consistently give me security warnings about ActiveX (SP2).

    1. MS update pages
    2. Pr0n and hax0r sites trying to install some weird "requirement" that is probably a trojan

    So... Exactly why is it I need it again?

  • I guess RSS feeds will soon be able to exploit my win box :(
  • we fielded a number of questions and even complaints from customers saying "When are you going to give us tabbed browsing in IE." Now we've done that; IE7 has a very, very good tab implementation.

    He must be using a pretty significantly different version of IE7 than the Beta 2 preview that I am using, because the tab implementation on my version is pretty terrible. Because the tabs have to share space with 9 different buttons/menus, I can only have about 3-4 tab names become virtually indistinguishable. In
  • RSS and Usenet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tabdelgawad ( 590061 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @05:57PM (#14772098)
    Why wasn't the RSS spec designed from the get-go to duplicate the functionality in Usenet? It seems to me that a good RSS reader should have the basic functionality of a Usenet newsreader: threading, sorting (by author, date, etc), read vs unread, catchup, reply (if the feed allows comments), article expiration, etc.

    In Mozilla Thunderbird, if you set up an RSS account for a Google group (using the atom 1.0 feed), it looks like a usenet subscription, except it's much more limited. If it's the same paradigm (except where the articles are hosted), why not the same functionality?
  • one of my biggest pet peves about IE is the way it handles MIME types (other browsers are probobly guilty of this to some extent too).

    I cant find the RFC itself but I seem to recall that the standards for HTTP and MIME and stuff say that the client should treat what the server returns in the Content-Type header as authoratitive and not try to "guess" the content type from the filename or file contents. But, IE (and probobly other browsers although IE is the worst offender) ignores the spec and attempts to g
    • Web servers very often screw up the MIME types. It's no surprise. The client has all the media players and plug-ins and such. The server is just a server, hopefully without any of that junk installed. The server might even run without a GUI.

      Very often, I try to view some plain text with Firefox. The web server gives a MIME type that Firefox is clueless about. (probably the specific type of text file, however MIME says "patch file" or "shell script") Firefox gives me the option to save the file or browse my
  • IE7 has one advantage: As for some reason browser generations are coupled to IE releases the release of IE7 will mean that Forefox and Opera will instantly turn from sixth generation browsers into seventh generation browsers as they already do everything IE7 does.

    And when Microsoft will announce that their browser now has almost-complete CSS2 support (somewhere around 2011) Firefox, Opera and probably even Lynx will watch the IE dev team in the backlights as they continue to boldly go where no browser has

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